While everyone might know her for her incredible tattoo artistry and pigmented product line, the top characteristic I associate with Kat Von D is her unbridled passion for creativity. I recently had the opportunity to chat with her about her new Artistry Collective, and it was during that conversation that I became a superfan.
You see, Kat is not here to half-ass anything in life, and doesn't respect those who are. Above all, she works hard because her love of art and creation is what is motivating her. When I asked her to give advice to aspiring makeup artists on Instagram, she told me that above all, it's important to be yourself. "It's OK to be inspired by others," she told me, "but there's a difference between being inspired and being ripped off." She added, "It's important to do your homework and get better and better. A lot of people want to have direct result of success without actually doing the work. That's something I'm definitely turned off by."
That's why I was not even remotely surprised that she called out beauty brand Makeup Revolution on Instagram, accusing the company of ripping off one of her eye shadow palettes. However, after fans called her out for being so negative, she decided to make a lengthy follow-up video that not only explained her frustration, but gave deep insight into her creative process.
"I just think that there's a difference between a dupe and straight-up plagiarism."
Kat was personally offended by the dupe, because she puts her heart and soul into every product. "I wouldn't be so offended by that company if they just took the concept and called it inspiration and then created something on their own," she explained in the video. "I just think that there's a difference between a dupe and straight-up plagiarism." She pointed out that everything from the color selection and palette layout to the actual name of the product is almost identical.
"When we start normalizing something that is unjust," she said of the copycat brand, "that's not good. That's not how we should treat each other, whether it's a brand to another brand or a person to a person. We should treat each other with kindness."
Kat went on to explain that each thing she works on is her "baby." "I don't have children," she noted. "I don't have kids that I come home to and be like, 'I made you.' My products, my art, those are my babies, so I do feel I have a valid reason to be offended by that company."
From there, she went on to show her creative process, starting with a tour of her office. This included a peek at her vault of artwork that she's worked on for the brand, which houses many of the logos she's illustrated. "Everything is hand-drawn, not computer-generated at all," she said as she rifled past lettering of "Everlasting," "Serpentina," "Shade & Light," and other familiar text from her brand's packaging (in multiple drafts, showing the hard work she puts into each step).
She then revealed her testing station — her kitchen counter — which was covered with tubes, palettes, and vials of both initial prototypes and final products. (We even get sneak peeks at a bunch of new Kat Von D products coming down the pipeline!) Kat concluded her creative tour with selections of images from photo shoots, which she does for every single product in her range.
"It's not just like, 'oh, I get to play with lipstick!'" she said of the process. "No, dude, there's intensive involvement that goes behind every single product. I just pour myself into everything I've ever created for you guys."
Kat acknowledged that many fans recommend she lowers her price points so that other brands stop copying her, but she doesn't believe that will prevent imitations. But she fairly pointed out that there's "a certain price to pay for a certain quality," and that she works really hard to make her products accessible, changing the packaging or other features of an item to make it as affordable as possible.
"I know what it's like to not be able to afford makeup," she said. "People want to sit there and be like, 'Oh, your white privilege is showing.' First of all, I'm not white, I'm f*cking Latina, so those kinds of comments are obnoxious, and also, as far as being privileged, there's a difference between growing up in luxury . . . I was born in Mexico with like, dirt floors." She went on, "I know what it's like . . . I couldn't even afford drugstore brands when I was a kid." She appreciates those who take time to save money for items that they really want because she can relate.
I find it extremely satisfying — and empowering — to hear a brand founder speak about her products like this. It's not rare for someone to own a makeup company to be an artist, but not many would defend their creative process in a 20-minute YouTube video like this. Yes, Kat is dedicated to producing quality formulas for her fans, but it's clear to me that she works even harder for herself and for the satisfaction of creating excellence.
In our chat, she told me, "If you actually stick to something and work hard, and really dedicate yourself to something so holy, you have no idea what's around the corner." That is basically the description of Kat's career, as her success is self-made.
Kat wants you to know, though, that this video doesn't come from a spiteful or petty place. It's more out of a hope to inspire change. "My intention is never to inspire negativity," she said. "Ultimately, my goal is to inspire people and to stand up for what I think is right." After all, only good can come of Kat's call for competitors to be more creative! More innovative concepts on the market mean more exciting makeup options at every price point, which is something any beauty junkie can get behind.