Kat Von D is a woman of many talents. Not only is she a social media influencer and a famous tattoo artist, but she’s a model, an entrepreneur, and a television personality. The makeup guru has made quite the name for herself in Hollywood, proving just about anyone can make it big if they have what it truly takes.
Von D’s story began when she was born on March 8, 1982. The beloved beauty, whose real name is Katherine Von Drachenberg, was raised by her parents, René Drachenberg and Sylvia Galeano, in the small town of Montemorelos, Mexico, until she was 6 years old. The family, which also includes Von D’s siblings, Karoline Von Drachenberg and Michael Von Drachenberg, moved to Loma Linda in San Bernardino County, California, in 1988.
Though some of Von D’s first memories as a child include “running around barefoot” and having no “electricity or running water,” as she wrote in a 2016 PopSugar article, the businesswoman is proud of her early upbringing in Mexico. “At the end of the day, where I come from doesn’t define me,” she penned, “but like any life experience, it’s helped shape this beautifully charmed life of mine that I could never take for granted.”
It’s evident that Von D has completely evolved her looks and career since pursuing her goals, and the star said her “Latin background still plays a huge rol[e] in everything” she does. Keep scrolling to see Von D’s transformation through the years.
Kat Von D's love for tattooing begins at an early age
While living in California as a little girl, Kat Von D and her family became involved in the religion Seventh Day Adventist. It’s not hard to see why, given that Loma Linda is a town known for its big population of observers. As she recalled in her PopSugar article, Von D said her family followed strict guidelines, which meant they “kept the Sabbath, went to church on Saturdays, followed the ten commandments, and didn’t eat any pork or fish without scales.”
However, Von D (pictured above in 2007) strayed from her parents’ adapted way of life as she grew up, and soon enough, she started expressing herself through different hairstyles, art, and tattoos. “I first started tattooing when I was 14 years old, and I got into my first shop when I was 16,” she told The Fix in October 2016. “I really felt like it was a luxury to be able to do something that you love.”
When Von D’s passion for tattooing became so overwhelming, she “stopped going to school.” Though her parents were “supportive” of her artwork for as long as she “can remember,” Von D noted her decision to drop off and pursue tattooing full time was “really scary” for her mom and dad. “I had a mohawk … my dad’s a doctor and they were missionaries for the church,” she told PR.com in July 2008. Fortunately, Von D’s parents have embraced her talents as she became a star.
Kat Von D makes it big in showbiz
After years of sprucing up her tattoo abilities, Kat Von D was given the chance to make a name for herself on the TLC show Miami Ink. The star was cast alongside Ami James, Chris Nuñez, Yoji Harada, Chris Garver, Darren Brass, and Tim Hendricks in July 2005. At the time, Von D felt fortunate to pave the way for women in the tattoo business.
“There’s not that many tattoo artists that are girls and that are also cool and don’t get offended, and who are actually good and have been tattooing a long time,” she told PR.com. “The network approved me and I flew down there.” Throughout the two-year series, Von D appeared on 20 episodes, which is the highest out of the entire cast.
However, Von D eventually returned to her stomping grounds in California when LA Ink premiered in 2007. Though the TV star didn’t mind the “different vibe” Miami offered, she knew in her heart belonged in LA. “I’m so used to living in Hollywood where it’s totally not a big deal to be tattooed,” she told the outlet. “To be separated from that and put in South Beach, I got a lot of weird looks in a bathing suit,” she said with a laugh.
Von D starred on LA Ink for four years until 2011. The show premiered seven seasons and followed along as Von D pursued her “dream of opening up her own tattoo shop,” per IMDb.
Kat Von D reinvents her career with a new business venture
Though Kat Von D was starring on LA Ink in the late 2000s, she was extremely busy with plenty of other projects. The tattooed bombshell (pictured here in 2009) was given the opportunity to reinvent her career when she launched her very own makeup line in 2008. After grabbing the attention of viewers with her one-of-a-kind style and undeniable artistic talent, Sephora offered her a deal, and from that moment on, Kat Von D Beauty was born (via Insider).
“I wasn’t too sure how the public would respond. A lot of people, even though they do like me, they think I look different,” she admitted to PR.com. “I tried to find a good balance between wearing something that’s wearable in public and then if you want to get a little bit crazy you can.”
Kat Von D Beauty became a total hit, and throughout the early 2010s, she completely expanded her brand. In the beginning, Von D was just selling “eyeliners, lipsticks, eye shadows and brushes,” she told PR.com, noting, “But, we’re going to expand that to everything from glitter eyeliner to skin prep.” Von D kept true to her word, and she even launched perfume and accessories.
When Von D became vegan, she transformed her beauty brand into a completely vegan-only line. But “from the beginning,” she always “refused to test on animals,” she told Vegan Food and Living in 2018.
Kat Von D takes some time to focus on her love life — which includes becoming a mom
After nearly two decades of putting her career on the forefront, Kat V Don gave love a shot with Rafael Reyes. Though the entrepreneur dated her fair share of men over the years, including Steve-O, Deadmau5, Jesse James, and of course, her first husband, Oliver Peck, it appears true romance wasn’t in the cards for Von D until she met Reyes, an author, and musician.
Von D and Reyes were first linked in 2016 after they met on the set of a music video for one of his songs. The “From Dog to God” artist asked Von D to appear in the clip, and instantly, sparks flew, per Earn The Necklace. After two years of dating, the lovebirds tied the knot in an extremely private wedding in February 2018. Von D gushed over the ceremony on Instagram, writing (via Shemazing), “It was a beautiful sacred thing to get married alone, just the two of us.”
The couple held an over-the-top second wedding several months later in June 2018, per Brides, and by November, the pair were parents when they welcomed their son, Leafer. For his first birthday in 2019, Von D marveled over the journey of motherhood. “I’m so lucky that I’m able to be there to witness each and every moment,” she penned on Instagram. “Every day I look forward to seeing him grow into the sweet little boy is becoming.”
Kat Von D does it all while juggling work, marriage, and motherhood
Kat Von D’s dedication to her career has been unwavering throughout the decades, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t make time for her family. Since marrying Rafael Reyes and settling down with their son, Kat Von D has transformed from a total tattoo badass to a complete softie. On Instagram, the High Voltage Tattoo author loves giving fans glimpses inside her life as a mom. “I’d do anything for this little one,” she captioned a photo of the mother-son duo holding hands in December 2020.
Notably, in 2020, Von D left her longtime brand Kat Von D Beauty after 12 years. The news came months after she launched her vegan shoe line, Von D Shoes, in November 2019. After reflecting on all the amazing milestones she accomplished in the last few years, Von D decided to take a step back from her eponymous line.
“It has become clear to me that I just can’t do everything at the maximum capacity,” she said in an official press release at the time, noting she sold all of her shares to Kendo (via The Cut). “I decided I wanted the makeup line to continue to thrive and grow.”
Von D has no intentions of leaving the spotlight, though. In the press release, she dished she’s “busy prepping to release [her] long-awaited album,” followed by “an international tour.” It sounds like Von D has some surprises up her sleeve!
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