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Kat Von D Biography

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Birth Name: Kat Von D
Born: 03/08/1982
Birth Place: Monterrey, Nuevo Le

Katherine von Drachenberg was born on March 8, 1982 in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Both of her parents were born in Argentina, though her father, Rene Drachenberg, was of German descent and her mother, Sylvia Galeano, was Spanish-Italian. Kat Von D's family moved to Colton, CA when she was four years old. Her paternal grandmother's love for classical music helped shape Kat Von D's own artistic interests, particularly her love for Beethoven's masterpieces and learning how to play the piano at age six. Growing up on the outskirts of Los Angeles, Kat Von D was influenced by the prominent Latino culture as well as the punk rock scene. She grew up listening to the music of seminal punk bands such as the Ramones and the Misfits, and by age 14, received her first tattoo - an Old English "J" on her ankle. Two years later, Kat Von D realized she was not cut out for school and decided to train to become a tattoo artist. One of her first experiences giving a tattoo was using a homemade machine to draw the Misfits' skull logo on a willing friend.

Kat Von D began her professional career as a tattoo artist in 1998, working at the local shop Sin City Tattoo. She moved around and worked at various shops in the Los Angeles area before landing her breakout gig at True Tattoo in Hollywood, where she worked opposite renowned artists Chris Garver and Clay Decker. It was Garver who recommended Kat Von D to try out for a spot on "Miami Ink," a reality series about a famed tattoo shop in Miami, FL. "Miami Ink" followed around the clients coming in to the shop for tattoos as well as the personal lives of the artists who worked there. Kat Von D made recurring appearances on the show's first season as a replacement for artist Darren Brass, who had suffered a broken arm, but quickly gained a following for her realistic tattoo portraits and no-nonsense attitude. She returned to the second season of "Miami Ink" as a series regular, although frequent verbal clashes with shop owner Ami James caused her termination. After her "Miami Ink" fall-out, Kat Von D returned to Los Angeles and opened her own shop, High Voltage Tattoo. It also spawned her own reality series "LA Ink," which became one of TLC's highest-rated programs. The series featured other artists who worked at High Voltage Tattoo, as well as celebrity clients including rocker Dave Navarro, actor Stephen Baldwin, and comedienne Margaret Cho.

In 2007, Kat Von D set a Guinness World Record for giving the most tattoos in a 24-hour period. Thousands lined up outside High Voltage Tattoo to take part in her history-making attempt. She ended up drawing 400 tattoos to set the world record, but only to have the number surpassed the following year by her ex-husband Oliver Peck with 415. "LA Ink's" popularity established Kat Von D's career and expanded into other equally successful projects. She made guest appearances on friend Bam Margera's reality show "Bam's Unholy Union" (MTV, 2007), launched a cosmetics line for Sephora in 2008, and opened an art gallery and boutique next to High Voltage Tattoo in 2010. Kat Von D's personal life became a hot topic in 2009 after she began dating Nikki Sixx, co-founder and bassist of heavy metal band Motley Crue. Sixx even wrote the foreword to her New York Times bestseller High Voltage Tattoo (2009).

The couple lasted until early 2010, around the same time rumors swirled that she had moved on to Jesse James, the West Coast Choppers CEO and reality TV star who had been famously married to actress Sandra Bullock for five years before his infidelities sunk the marriage. Kat Von D confirmed she was dating James via social networking site Twitter in August 2010 - only months after the Bullock/James marriage implosion. On an episode of "LA Ink," Kat Von D surprised James on his birthday by showing him a tattoo of his fifth grade portrait that was inked under her left arm. The pair announced their engagement in January 2011, only to split a few months later. Just days after revealing that her relationship had ended, Kat Von D appeared on the local morning news program "Good Day L.A." (Fox, 1993- ). When producers showed a clip from James' birthday surprise episode, Kat Von D stood up and walked out of the interview. She cancelled all media appearances promoting "LA Ink" following the incident.