If you are not "in the know," Kat Von D is the star of The Learning Channel’s L.A. Ink. It is a reality show focusing on the lives of those working at one of the hottest tattoo shops in Los Angeles. To be completely frank, I am not a fan of the show in the least. The craft of her work is apparent but the show has never appeared to be more than just another reality show. But this book is something else.
Its Gothic style sets the mood perfectly for what is, in part, an excellent autobiography. Von D explores her influences and early work. She also provides a huge number of stories about the impressive array of celebrities who have set foot in her shop over the years. And there is a huge spread in the book detailing her own tattoos; it’s almost a guided tour of Von D.
More than that, this book is actually quite an impressive analysis of tattoo culture. Von D discusses her shop, her tools, her processes and the making of complex tattoos. She interviews people who have had absolutely stunning work done, complimented by pictures and artists renderings. It includes art portfolios of Von D’s work as well as work that has inspired her. It is as much an art book chronicling a contemporary artist, as it is anything else.
With High Voltage Tattoo, Kat Von D really puts into focus the reason she is at the top of her profession. And, if nothing else, she has inspired me to take a second look at the TV show.