Glamour in a package is what you would expect from a cult makeup product line and that’s exactly what you get from the Kat Von D Beauty collection and its namesake founder.
Created by Katherine Von Drachenberg, one of the most respected and sought-after tattoo artists in LA, the Kat Von D Beauty Collection is a cruelty-free make-up line known for its wide range of highly pigmented colours, long-wear and out of the box packaging.
Better known as Kat Von D, the famed American tattoo artist starred in the popular 2005 reality television series Miami Ink and later in L.A. Ink in 2007, featuring her tattoo shop in Los Angeles, High Voltage Tattoo.
At 34, she has published two books compiling her artwork and tattoos, set up an art gallery and boutique, launched a clothing line and in 2008 launched the Kat Von D Beauty makeup line with Sephora.
“I don’t consider myself a tattoo artist or a makeup artist. I just like to create and I will continue to do that in whatever art forms it takes,” says Von D at an interview in Kuala Lumpur recently.
“For the majority of my childhood I was made fun of for looking different. I was dressing like an outsider and my makeup was very extreme compared to other kids. So, when Sephora contacted me it was shocking but exciting, and a huge compliment!”
When Von D meets you she immediately offers a bear hug, instantly disarming you with her warmth and friendliness.
She’s animated and laughs easily, totally contradicting her Gothic rebellious facade.
Meticulously made-up with dark smoky-eyes and a bold red lip, she’s dressed in her signature Goth-approved black outfit.
The side of her left eye is speckled with tiny black star tattoos, while her arms, hands and fingers are almost covered with intricate tattoos. Her Instagram is mesmerising in an artistic, gothic and vampy way. Even her unconventional cats seamlessly complement that vibe.
When asked what is it about Goth that attracts her, Von D says, “I don’t like to label myself that way but I had always been more interested in the darker side of things.
There is beauty in the melancholy and also it’s very real. We can enjoy happy times but we’d be pretending if we say our lives are happy all the time.”
Reflecting Von D’s fascination for all things Gothic and music, her products are designed with a rock n’ roll artistic edge, and is quirky with coffin-shaped make-up palettes and black studded lipstick casings.
When someone sees your products initially what do you hope? “I surely don’t hope that people will walk away or are afraid to try it!” Von D says without missing a beat.
“Kat Von D Beauty is created for everybody and not just for the gothic girl. I had my mother in mind, who’s conservative and doesn’t dress like me. So, there is a duality to it. I can wear the same shades and make it different from someone with differing styles.”
She started wearing makeup at 12, which she now feels is too early. Later on as a teenager, she started using it as a form of self-expression, after she discovered punk rock music: “It wasn’t about beauty. I liked black nail polish as that reflected my feelings inside. Nowadays, black nail polish can be considered high fashion. What used to be abnormal is now beautiful so it’s really cool.”
Here’s what she has to say on her makeup line and being vegan:
How involved are you in the creation of Kat Von D Beauty?
The entire process actually, from concept, art direction, drawing the actual component and artwork, packaging, formula testing, composing shades to naming them.
Then, there’s the marketing behind it, from curating, managing thekatvond Instagram, doing contests and sitting here doing interviews!
Would you consider your makeup line conventional?
I think it is but some shades may be considered unconventional. Times have changed and people have adapted to these wonderful outside the box shades, like black lipstick is no longer weird. You see it on the runway, in editorial to the girl on the street. She looks cute and she doesn’t look scary, and that’s pretty exciting. It’s not just in the beauty world; it’s in fashion, movies and everything. As a species we are evolving artistically.
You’re now 100% vegan. What led to it?
Nine years ago I was a vegetarian and many things changed and my personal life improved. Shortly after releasing my makeup line I got sober. In fact, I just celebrated nine years of being sober, without drinking. I never imagined it would be so exciting to celebrate this and it’s a huge blessing. Being a vegan was a transition from being a vegetarian. I learnt so much more about the world and saw how we exploit animals and the environment.
Vegans don’t support any kind of product, food or entertainment with animal product like dairy or beeswax, avoid wearing leather or supporting animal exploitation via animal testing or the entertainment business. As a vegan you start seeing it everywhere and it’s important ethically to do what’s right. You’re part of the problem or part of the solution. Some think it’s really silly to try but I would rather try than not. Especially when we are living in a modern world where we don’t really need to rely on animals.
What does it mean that the Kat Von D Beauty collection is 100% vegan?
Carmine is an ingredient used in red and purple shades in makeup. It’s made from crushed beetles. When I found out I felt it was important to reformulate my products. I found a lot of great alternatives and one is using beet-based substitute for my palette to achieve the exact same shade.
If we can create synthetic beeswax then why not! As of now my makeup line is about 99% vegan, with a few shades left that we are reformulating, so by the end of this year it would be 100% vegan. Even our brushes are synthetic. Meanwhile, you can visit katvondbeauty.com to see the vegan section, which lists those that have been reformulated.