Nicola Burford • 14 January 2015

I went into Sephora just before the Christmas break and I think I’ve only just recovered. It is really is a rapture of blush, lacquer and gloss. One recent line to arrive on our shores is the cosmetics line created for Sephora by the multi-talented tattoo artist Kat Von D. One thunderous afternoon whilst in Sydney to celebrate the Sephora store launch, she happily spent some time with pages, waxing over the colour palette of storm fronts and bonding over the benefits of the brow.

Makeup artistry and cosmetics seem like a natural progression from your tattoo artistry. Did you approach the concept in the same way?

First and foremost, I’d be flattering myself by saying I’m a makeup artist, but I’m not. I have such a high degree of respect for makeup artists – to me, they are the artists that intimidate me the most! Hopefully my fans would love [the range] anyway, as they are such cheerleaders for my work and creativity, but for makeup artists, who are saturated with brands, for them to use and love my product, now that would be the biggest compliment.

My new shade palette is very good example of how makeup artistry and tattooing are similar as it’s all to do with shape and light, which gets me excited about how colour and different light work, which then makes me want to explore more into formulas and so on.

For tattooing and its artistic experience and producing a makeup line, there definitely is a correlation between the two, but I’m certainly not cool enough to be a makeup artist.

How did you decide on the range and colour choices, as well as the packaging?

The artwork on my packaging was something I painstakingly micro-managed – for example, I treat it like a tattoo, taking into consideration the muscle structure and seeing were the line lands on the existing body. For the rose pattern, it’s not a repeat pattern. I’ve drawn everything to work on each product, which makes it feel solid and complete. My favourite is the eye shadow palette with the subtle tiny skulls that you may not notice at first glance. You see stuff like that in nature – it’s all about the details. Again, fans will respond immediately but other customers will be intrigued and hopefully grow to love and be given a clue to the next discovery.

Sephora first approached me to design a range of four red lipsticks and I was like “Cool, I love red lipstick, but four!? OMG!” But now we have 30 shades! It’s pretty mind boggling that I can do all of this. When I’m creating, I tend to ignore trends, not in a rebellious way but more because I’m bored by them to be honest. I have an arsenal of ideas I intend on exploring and using in terms of makeup that could last me an entire lifetime!  Sometimes things are inspired by a piece of literature I’ve read or something I’ve experienced. For example, I’ve had the most amazing experience while in Sydney watching the thunderstorms, so if I was to make Sydney a palette, what would that look like? What would that be in a Pantone? There are so many amazing environments in Sydney, it’s a hard one to crack!

What’s your favourite makeup style and technique?

I’m the worst at advice but have embraced that. There’s a beauty to not knowing what you are doing and just being free to have fun as you like and fuck up as many times as you like because you can just wash that shit off! There’s no such thing as a bad decision in makeup and that leaves you with a freedom of creativity.

I’ve loved creating the makeup tutorials as I love to show how I would approach a technique on myself, but then love to hear how others do it in better ways than mine. It makes it less intimidating.

Like with red lipstick – I think it’s a shame that most people think they can’t wear red lipstick. There’s a red for everyone, so ask a professional to help you. I love it when a blonde finds the perfect red – it may not be the same as what looks good on a brunette but allow yourself to try them. That’s why I’m excited about Sephora being here as I’ve learnt so much from my Sephora cast members – they are geniuses!

Your work is adorned on many celebrities and the general public alike. Are there any times when you have simply had to say, “That is a terrible idea!” and how did you make them come round to your way of thinking?

There never really has been any time when I’ve though something was a totally terrible idea – even if I was in disagreement, it could never be totally terrible because, it’s like, “Whatever floats your boat”. Of course, I’ve turned down plenty of people, not in a diva way, but I respect my art enough to not take their money and do something that I think won’t stand the test of time. It’s your responsibility to guide people into getting tattoos which they won’t regret and that will age well. That’s what’s different than with makeup. Trends are very fleeting. You shouldn’t get a tattoo based on trends.

My whole team and I have made a pact: we won’t take you money unless it’s something we believe in. And then there are assholes – if you’re an asshole, I won’t tattoo you, so fuck you, I don’t care! I’m sure people at Sephora can’t do that – can you imagine the saying, “Get outta here, you don’t deserve this lipstick”?

Read onto page 2 of our interview.