Express Yourself: Kat Von D

In just a few short years, LA Ink's Kat Von D has catapulted from an average LA tattoo artist into an icon, a brand unto herself, and a true badass in every sense of the word. But behind the blood-red lipstick, the piercings and the body art, we discovered a soft-spoken girl ready to shed her skin as a consummate bad girl and reinvent herself as a strong young woman in love. In the November issue of Latina, Kat riffs on the power of self expression, the memories of her troubled past and how she turned a love of body art into real world success and stardom.

On getting over alcohol abuse and the pain in her past:
“For a long time I felt like there’s no God, there’s no karma. Meeting Nikki (boyfriend, Motley Crue’s Nikki Six) was an eye-opener. He helped restore my faith in general. I’ve taken an oath to be honest and open with my life.”

On her drinking problem, a result of a divorce that was chronicled during L.A. Ink’s first season:
“I found myself drinking in the daytime, and that’s when I realized that it was for function versus fun. I was gaining weight. I was hung over all the time. I couldn’t remember anything. But I always had a rule: If anything ever got in the way of my art, then I would delete that. One day I woke up and said, ‘I don’t wanna drink anymore.’”

On embracing her life as a tattoo artist:
“It took a decade and a TV show, but now my parents realize what I do. For a long time they just thought I hung out with bikers and drug addicts. But tattooing was a lifestyle for me. It was a form of self-expression. When I started, I didn’t even know it could be a job. Now I’m constantly feeling honored that someone wants me to permanently mark them for the rest of their life.”

On her Latin roots:

“Most people don’t even think I’m Latin,” she says. “They just think I’m a white girl. But I don’t consider myself Mexican. I don’t consider myself Argentinean. I’m definitely not Caucasian. I just consider myself Latina. And without sounding sentimental, it’s a big f--king honor. People don’t realize how much my heritage contributes to my art.”