What You Never Knew About Kat Von D

You probably know Kat Von D as the ultimate tattoo artist, makeup guru, reality TV star, and singer. With her instantly recognizable 1950s-meets-modern-goth look, Von D is something of an icon. Von D first shot to fame in the reality show "Miami Ink," which followed her career as a tattoo artist in Miami. That was followed by the show "LA Ink." Since then, Von D has become known around the world, releasing a makeup line, an album, and a book.

If you're one of Von D's over 7 million Instagram followers, you probably know a few things about the icon's life — how she released her first album in 2021 or how she tied the knot with second husband Leafar Seyer in 2018. But there are a few details that even the biggest Kat Von D fans may not know. Curious to learn more about this tattoo artist's life and career? Here are a few surprising things about Kat Von D.

Kat Von D grew up in Mexico speaking Spanish

Kat Von D is one of the most prominent Latina stars around. However, many of her fans don't seem to realize the full extent of her Latin roots. 

"I was born in a little pueblo in Mexico and didn't migrate to the U.S. until the mid-80s," the star explained to Dazed. She went on to explain that she was raised by her South American parents speaking Spanish at home. "A lot of people don't know that I am a Latina and it's something that I'm super proud of and shows in my art background," she said.

Kat Von D is clearly still incredibly proud of her heritage and her mother tongue. In fact, in 2017, she captioned an Instagram photo with a Spanish phrase meaning "may you sleep with the little angels" (via People). However, some fans criticized her Spanish, claiming the correct phrase would be, when translated into English, "May you dream of the little angels." She retorted, again in Spanish, "Spanish was my first language. I don't need Google to wish you a good night."

This is one of Kat Von D's biggest pet peeves

Kat Von D doesn't mind expressing her opinions. In an interview with Rebellious Magazine, she explained that she has a big pet peeve when it comes to live music gigs. "One of my bigger pet peeves when I go and see a band play," she said, "is if somebody is just standing stagnant at a mic."

For Von D, a great musical performance is all about "storytelling" — and that involves lots of movement. So, when it came time for Von D to create her own tour for her 2021 album, she was keen to include lots of visual elements. "We've been working during this whole entire lockdown on the visuals and set design for our live performances because I think going out and touring is going to be an amazing experience," she said. Sounds like Kat Von D wants her shows to be real spectacles!

Kat Von D claims she's been misunderstood

In 2018, the tattoo artist became the center of a social media controversy when she claimed she wouldn't vaccinate her children (via USA Today), and in 2019, Kat Von D was accused of being anti-Semitic, as noted by USA Today. Von D spoke to The Washington Post about some of the controversies on social media. According to her, the rumors have all been false. "There's been so many terrible rumors that have been brought up about me that are completely untrue," she said. As she explained, she has often been misunderstood.

While Von D usually tries not to let these untrue rumors get to her, she explained that she sometimes feels upset by claims that she is racist. "None of that stuff really bothers me more than the racist stuff, because I feel like, you know, I'm a proud Latina," she said. While cancel culture can be difficult for misunderstood celebrities, it seems that Von D is dealing with rumors the best way she can.

This is Kat Von D's beauty idol

While Kat Von D is widely known as a tattoo artist, she is also famous for her striking makeup looks. In fact, she's often considered to be one of her generation's greatest innovators when it comes to makeup. As she once explained to Get the Gloss, her beauty looks aren't exactly inspired by one individual person. "I'm more inspired by things — eras, nature, people's style and aesthetic," she said.

When asked about her beauty idol again by Vogue Paris, she echoed the same sentiments. However, she did mention one name — Edith Piaf, the famous French singer responsible for songs like "La Vie En Rose." "I like her beauty even if it isn't too conventional, so I can easily identify with her," she said. "In fact, I think my icon could be a half-Edith Piaf, half-vampire creature." Wow, with inspiration like that, no wonder Von D's makeup looks slay!

Kat Von D collects antiques

There's something incredibly retro about Kat Von D — while she loves to experiment with her look, she always gives some serious old-fashioned, sometimes Victorian vibes, too. As she explained to Vegan Food & Living, she is, in fact, obsessed with antique items — especially books. "I love antiques of all kinds and I collect old bibles and books," she said. As she explained, as a vegan, old leather books are the only animal product she feels comfortable buying. She once revealed on Instagram that she also collected old Victorian lampshade frames to make custom retro-inspired lampshades.

It turns out, Von D has so many antiques in her collection, she hosted an estate sale in 2021 to get rid of some of them! Some of her antiques included an old dressing table, marble top tables, and canopy beds (via CityBeat). We are seriously impressed — clearly Von D's collection is filled with plenty of vintage treasures.

Her poor upbringing taught her to be innovative with what she had

While Kat Von D is now one of the world's most famous and top paid tattoo artists, she didn't always lead such a luxurious lifestyle. As she told Get the Gloss, her family was actually relatively poor when she was growing up. "We were quite poor," she said. "I didn't have financial access to luxury brands, which I think was a blessing in many ways as it forced my sister and I to take existing products and be as innovative as possible with them."

So, even though Von D didn't get to experiment with lots of makeup as a child, she learned to create amazing looks with what she had. As she went on to explain, she and her sister got creative and learned how to express themselves as teens with the few things they could find — no wonder Von D went on to create a makeup line when she grew up — she had been experimenting with makeup for her whole life!

Kat Von D's makeup line is influenced by her tattooing background

Kat Von D began her career as a tattoo artist — however, she always made a statement with her personal makeup looks. So, it was no great shock when she branched out into makeup and launched her own line.

As she explained to Get the Gloss, the transition from tattooing to making makeup was actually a lot smoother than many might assume. In fact, being a tattoo artist actually helped her learn about what kind of makeup she wanted to create. "My art background influences the creative process and my approach to technique, as I'm not a professional," she said. "I understand contouring from knowing how to draw portraits and my understanding of facial structure." She even created an eyeliner called Tattoo Liner that aimed to recreate the detailed lines of a fine needle in tattooing. For Von D, tattooing and makeup are both art forms — no wonder she's so good at both!

Kat Von D began tattooing as a teenager using a homemade tattoo machine

If you've seen Kat Von D at work on a tattoo, it's easy to think that she's been doing tattoos for her entire life — and that's not too far from the truth. As the artist explained to Dazed, she began tattooing at the very young age of 14. She then gave her first tattoo in a professional shop when she was aged 16. "It was honestly love at first sight," she recalled. And apparently, she still loves it just as much as she did back then.

According to Glamour, Von D's first tattoo was for a friend. It was a skull that she made out of a homemade tattoo machine that she'd constructed out of nothing but a motor from a tape player and a guitar string. Apparently, Von D wasn't just a naturally talented tattoo artist — she was also a genius when it came to DIY!

In 2021, Kat Von D released an album that she had written a decade before

In 2021, Kat Von D released her debut album, adding to her long list of achievements. As the star explained to Rebellious Magazine, the album was a long time coming. "I'm excited because I wrote this album about 10 years ago and I just kept putting it on the back burner because we were filming the TV show and doing book tours and all that stuff," she said. Apparently, she was just too busy to give the album release the attention it deserved.

Nevertheless, even though the album didn't see the light of day for a decade, Von D still felt that her music was an important part of her creative process. "I think a lot of people know me for tattooing and makeup and things like that, but I feel like music has always been the force behind all of it," she explained.

Luckily, 2021 proved to be the perfect time for the delayed album. Presumably because of the pandemic, she had time to plan the tour and focus on the album release.

Kat Von D was celibate for three years

For a while, Kat Von D chose to live a celibate life. As she told Loudwire Nights, she decided to take a period of celibacy after realizing that she had fallen into a pattern of entering toxic relationships. "My type was like, I guess you could say daddy issues," she said. "For some reason, I dated a lot of guys that had a lot of abandonment issues, and that in turn would reflect into how they treated who they dated."

So, Von D took time off dating altogether to figure out why she was dating the wrong guys. "I was like, 'I'm not gonna date, I'm not gonna be intimate with anybody and just really focus on myself because I'm tired of seeing the same movie over and over again,'" she recalled. Luckily, her three-year period of celibacy seems to have worked. In 2018, she tied the knot with Leafar Seyer (Kat Von D had an extreme goth wedding!) — and the pair seem to be happier than ever!

This is Kat Von D's favorite tattoo

In 2017, Kat Von D spoke to Vogue Paris about her work. When asked about her favorite tattoo on her body and her favorite tattoo she had ever done on someone else, she had a pretty surprising answer.

Her favorite tattoo on herself is a portrait of her father. "He's my best friend so it's very reassuring always having him close like that," she said.

As for her favorite tattoo on someone else, Von D explained that it can change — especially as she's always trying to improve on her last piece. "I like to think that the last tattoo I've done is the one which I am most proud of," she said. She went on to explain that she is constantly trying to learn new styles and techniques from other artists so she can keep improving. What an amazing attitude!

Kat Von D is a passionate vegan

As fans of the tattoo artist may know, Kat Von D's makeup line is completely cruelty-free — as you may have guessed, she is a vegan who is passionate about animal rights. As she explained to Vegan Food & Living, she first became a vegan after being a vegetarian. "I went vegan after seeing the documentary 'Forks Over Knives' and I've never looked back," she recalled.

For Von D, transitioning from vegetarianism to veganism wasn't too difficult — especially as she had always loved animals. Plus, for Von D, the principles of veganism felt like second nature. "When it comes to the suffering of animals, I think everyone's a vegan deep down inside," she said. "We'll always side with choosing non-suffering for anything — any living being."

Von D went on to create vegan makeup and a line of vegan shoes. Clearly, she practices what she preaches!

Kat Von D's tattooing obsession led to her going to therapy

In a 2009 interview with The Aquarian, Kat Von D was asked about how much time she had for tattooing. As the artist explained, she actually made time for tattooing every single day, even though her career had already taken off. In fact, Von D explained that her obsession with tattooing had gotten so out of hand, she had sought help. "I'm actually going to therapy about it because I need to take a day off," she said.

Apparently, Von D loved tattooing so much that she found herself in danger of becoming a workaholic — she often tattooed for 10 hours a day! Of course, this was while she was working on her reality show, so it was all part of the job. Nevertheless, we certainly hope she's learned how to take a day off work every now and then!

Kat Von D used a midwife rather than a doctor when she gave birth to her first child

Kat Von D gave birth to her first child in 2018 (via E! News). Unlike many women, Von D opted against consulting with a doctor throughout her pregnancy. As she told the "Informed Pregnancy" podcast, she visited two Ob/gyns before deciding to use a midwife instead. Apparently, the visits to the two doctors left her feeling either "a sense of doom and fear" or a lack of personal connection to the doctor.

Then, she met her midwife, Sarah. "The minute we met Sarah, it was like, 'Okay, let's get excited now,'" she explained. With Sarah, Von D finally felt comfortable and confident about giving birth.

In a since deleted Instagram post, Von D went into more detail about her birth plan. She explained that she was planning on having "a natural, drug-free home birth in water with a midwife and doula" (via Insider).

Kat Von D went to the same boarding school as Paris Hilton, which she experienced 'trauma

In 2020, Paris Hilton released a documentary about her life, in which she claimed she had been emotionally and physically abused at a boarding school called Provo Canyon for "troubled teens," as noted by BuzzFeed News. Shortly after the documentary was released, Kat Von D revealed on Instagram that she had spent time at the same school after she had become interested in punk music and style (via Insider).

In the 23-minute long video, Von D opened up about her traumatizing time at the school. Apparently, she was at the school for just six months when she was 15, but it was long enough to have life-changing consequences. "I spent those six traumatic months of my teenage years, only to leave with major PTSD and other traumas due to the unregulated, unethical, and abusive protocols of this 'school,'" she wrote in the caption.