Kat Von D is a Mexican-American tattoo artist and television personality best known for her work as a featured tattoo artist on the reality television show Miami Ink and her own spin-off series, LA Ink.
Born in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, Von D moved to the United States when she was four, settling in Colton, California. Her father, René von Drachenberg, is of German descent and her mother, Sylvia Galeano has Spanish-Italian roots, but were both born in Argentina.
She speaks fluent Spanish and English.
Growing up in the Inland Empire, she made her first tattoo at age 14, a logo of the rock band Misfits. In early 1996, her friends asked her to pick up the machine and work on them (her first effort was a Misfits skull with a homemade rig).
In 1998, she began working in her first professional shop, Sin City Tattoo. This was a great period of growth in her work and led to her eventually moving to True Tattoo for a chance to work with Clay Decker and Chris Garver.
This afforded her the opportunity to live and work in Hollywood, Los Angeles.
While working at True Tatto, Von D met her ex-husband, Oliver Peck, and occasionally worked at his tattoo shop "Elm Street Tattoo" in Dallas, Texas.
Von D is currently dating Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue fame, and made their first media appearance as a couple on 31 March 2008 episode of Sirius Radio's 'Radio Bam', hosted by Von D's close friend and professional skateboarder Bam Margera.
"Von Drachenberg" is German and means "From the dragonmount".
In February 2008, Von D was the subject of controversy when it was reported that an autographed head shot of herself was given to former co-worker and fellow tattoo artist Chris Garver to pass on to her ex-boss Ami James.
The head shot in question was autographed and signed: "Burn in hell Jewbag xoxo Kat Von D". The photo also had a drawing of a burning Star of David and a swastika.
Von D denied the accusations and stated through her publicist that:
"The recent accusation of a publicity photo of me with offensive and anti-semitic comments and graphics allegedly written by me is completely false and unfounded, and clearly a forgery. This was already proven many months ago to be 100 percent untrue. I always have been, and will continue to be an advocate for tolerance of all races, religions and ways of life."
Though Garver confirmed that Kat Von D herself handed him the autographed head shot, the TLC network stated that a full investigation was conducted and insufficient evidence existed to conclude that Von D authored the text.
Besides her tattoo career, Von D has also appeared in a version of HIM's music video for "Killing Loneliness". She has appeared on such shows as Tom Green's House Tonight, Late Night with David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and The Ellen Degeneres Show.
She is also sponsored by the soda company Jones Soda and has worked with Vitamin Angels, a non-profit organisation that fights child blindness caused by vitamin deficiencies.
Von D has collaborated with professional skaters Bam Margera, Chad Muska, and Mike Vallely on their skateboard deck graphics.
She started Musink, which is a collaboration between famous bands and tattooers alike. In February 2008 Musink opened for the first time at the Orange County fairgrounds.