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Mike Dow Mike Dow
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Kat Von D Got Ink?

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A conversation with renowned tattoo artist, television personality and author Kat Von D invariably revolves around ink.  

Born Katherine von Drachenberg in Mexico, Kat Von D moved to the Los Angeles area with her parents as a young girl, where she became fascinated with tattoo art and lifestyle. From art and music (she's a classically trained pianist but also harbors a deep love for rock and roll) to fashion, she quickly gained notoriety as one of LA's go-to tattoo artists and personalities.

In 2005, Von D inked a deal with TLC to join reality show 'Miami Ink,' which led to a return to Los Angeles and her own TLC series, 'LA Ink.' After four seasons and 84 episodes, Von D pulled the plug in 2011 when the show's carefully edited drama superseded her desire for a series centered more in reality.

In recent years, Von D has been romantically linked with Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx, Jesse James (Sandra Bullock's ex) and LA musician Alex Orbison (son of Roy). These days, Kat says she's met her match with progressive house-music producer and performer Joel Zimmerman, better known as Deadmau5. They began dating last September, and she received his proposal three months later. Von D says the pair will have an underwater-themed wedding later this year.  

Von D's third book, 'Go Big or Go Home: Taking Risks in Life, Love and Tattooing,' has just been published by Harper. I spoke with Kat last week, shortly before doctor's orders temporarily postponed further publicity due to illness.  

Dow: In this book, you write in depth about your successes and failures. What prompted you to take a more personal approach?  

Von D: My initial idea was to put together a collection of tattoos that take longer than one session some of them many hours worth of work. The stories behind them tend to be a little more profound and because of that, my reflections tended to go deeper than with other books. It's exciting and I'm a little bit nervous.

Dow: Among the book's seven essays, you write about some of the challenges you've faced. What have you learned from some of those difficult times?  

Von D: I look at the challenges or obstacles that I've been dealt as blessings. I've learned so much from them. I think there is strength in the idea of learning from vulnerability, and that's one of the biggest lessons that I've learned. 

Dow: After four seasons of 'LA Ink,' you decided you'd had enough. Why?  

Von D: Contractually, I filmed all of my obligations and I felt that it was time for me to step back. My goal with the show was to just put out artwork and inspire people with the stories behind it. When ratings start mutating more toward drama, it didn't make me feel like a good human being. If I were to do another show, I would want to own it. Unless you have total control over the show, including editing, it can be quite taxing if it's not in your favor.

Dow: What is your most recent tattoo? 

Von D: I got a matching tattoo with my fianc - a series of numbers and letters. It's like our secret code and everybody wants to know what it is, but we haven't told anybody. I would tell you what it means, but Joel is like, 'No, we should keep it a secret forever!' (laughing).

Dow: Do you see yourself become totally tattooed someday, or have you reached tattoo totality?  

Von D: I have a couple of big chunks left and then I can call it a day. I love all of my tattoos but I'm just not very good at getting them. I don't have a high tolerance for pain. The older I get, the more resistant I am to it.  

Dow: What can't you live without in this world?  

Von D: Love. I'm not really tied to material things. My house burned down about a year and a half ago and when you lose everything, you realize you have nothing to lose. I would say that the one thing that's vital for my existence is love. Whether it's romantic love, love from family and friends or even from a stranger. It's the one thing we can't live without.  

Dow: Do you have a recent favorite tattoo that you've crafted for someone? 

Von D: I finally got to tattoo a portrait of 'Tattoo' (late actor Herve Villechaize) from 'Fantasy Island.' I was so excited, I went on Twitter to say 'I finally got to tattoo Tattoo!'' I'd been waiting to say that for a long time (laughing). 

'The Big Morning Show with Mike Dow' can be heard each morning on Big 104 FM The Biggest Hits of the '60s, '70s & '80s - airing on 104.3,104.7 and 107.7.


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