Kat Von D is the tattoo mogul the world didn’t know it needed until she actually appeared. From her wicked (almost literally) style to her keen eye for art, KVD and LA Ink is the standard for pretty much all tattoo TV shows now.
For those that don’t know, LA Ink is all about Kat Von D’s shop, High Voltage. And honestly, we just watch it for the tattoos. Some of the work that Kat Von D and her other compatriot artists do is just incredible. Watching what they can translate from photo to ink is a kind of magic in and of itself. Some of it, however, doesn’t quite work. And hey, the TV watching is better when things don’t go as planned, right? We’ve gone through and found the best of the best. The best of the worst, that is.
22 Sickest: The Drum Tattoo
The drum tattoo is one that we’re still in awe of today. Not only does it feature some awesome realism, but she’s managed to take a pretty standard piece and integrate it beautifully onto someone’s body. The line work is awesome, and we like the fact that it’s not as stand alone realistic as some of the other stuff that’s been done.
21 Sickest: The Model's Monster
True fans will totally remember this episode, as it was one of the coolest and quirkiest pieces that had been done. The model’s monster was a pin up version of Frankenstein’s monster, and we love the creativity that that forced upon the artists at High Voltage. Not only did it turn out great, but we’re sure it still looks amazing today.
20 Messed Up: This Super Basic Back Tattoo
Honestly, we’re not even sure what this is. If we re-watched the episode we might be able to tell, but as it stands now… Nope. No idea. It says something about a piece on LA Ink if there’s nothing memorable about the story, which is part of the reason we had to include this one as a major mess up.
19 Sickest: Flower Power
The photo doesn’t quite do it justice, but anyone enamored with floral designs and intricate sleeve work will know just how intense this piece turned out to be. Considering the fact that this was essentially a full arm piece, the session ended up being a great lesson in patience (and editing, for all those producers we’re sure were watching).
18 Sickest: This Cleanly Lined Face
Okay, okay, look away from the lower half of the tattoo for a second. Yes, the picture itself is awesome. However, what we want to point out in this one is the clean lines and detail work. The facial structure is clear and crisp, and the rest of the style is smooth and straightforward. She really jumps off the arm.
17 Messed Up: This Questionable Expression
Clearly not all portraits are created equal. While we’re not sure if the photo was originally cross-eyed or not, we have to say that it’s not exactly the most flattering iteration of this person. The line work isn’t too bad, but that shading is a little heavy in some areas of the composition. Plus, she definitely looks a little confused.
16 Sickest: This Super Detailed PB&J Portrait
This is one episode we haven’t seen, so we’re not entirely sure of the relevance of PB&J. But we don’t necessarily need to know in order to appreciate the details and the design of this portrait. The hat alone is some incredible work, but then you get down to the script. Talk about a tasty tattoo!
15 Sickest: KVD's Pin Up Prowess
One of the things Kat Von D does well is the pin-up style of tattoo art. The Old School tattoos are a traditional type, and difficult to rework to fit on a contemporary person. KVD certainly succeeds, as evidenced by this tattoo magic she’s managed to perform. We love this piece due to its clean simplicity.
14 Sickest: The Pretty Kitty
It’s like we could reach out and scratch it under its little chin. Not only does this kitty have a personality, but it also has a whole lot of technical skill. The way that the fur looks, and the whiskers, create a very realistic looking cat. Not to mention the fact that the eyes are shining with intelligence seldom seen in people; let alone tattoo cats.
13 Messed Up: Whatever This Is
We’re just really unsure about what this is. And hey, maybe that’s not a bad thing. Tattoos can mean a variety of things to people, and the meaning doesn’t necessarily need to be written on their sleeve. Meaning can come from symbols, which is definitely the case in this creative piece.
12 Sickest: Their Beautiful Script Work
It seems like everyone in the shop can do amazing script work and text, which doesn’t surprise us in the slightest. Language is an important part of us, and it’s only natural that we want to put words and names onto our skin. We carry the important things forever, so why not the memory of whoever’s initials these are?
11 Sickest: The Medical ID
Those who have a peanut allergy or diabetes will know this fact well: oftentimes there needs to be a medical alert bracelet or card that outlines what exactly is the medical issue. Some people choose to get them tattooed, which is the case with this dude. He chose a brilliant artist to craft this super cool medical ID, which we’re betting he’s still stoked on.
10 Messed Up: The Infamous Steve O Tattoo
When Kat Von D decided to tattoo her then significant other, the last thing anybody thought she was going to do was this. This photo of him as a child is probably the least adorable, least flattering thing that she could have picked. The execution isn’t terrible, but c’mon; we do our best to repress childhood. The last thing we’d want is to wear it!
9 Sickest: The Meteor Shower
As big fans of stars and meteors, this is one of those tattoos that we can’t help but gawk at. The colors, the shape, the structure, even the placement makes this a very well done tattoo. We like the way that it looks like it’s going to crash into the person’s heart (or, you know, slightly down and to the right of it).
8 Sickest: Stunning Simplicity
We’ve mentioned the word clean a few times in this article, but can you blame us? Clean lines are so hard to do; anyone at the beginning of their tattoo career will know that. This tiny tattoo is a perfect addition to this woman’s wrist, as the definition and clarity makes for a beautifully done piece.
7 Messed Up: This Relic From Kat Van D's Past
Even the pros had to start somewhere, but we never thought Kat Von D would have started all the way down here. This tattoo appeared in an episode where KVD was doing a portrait of a woman’s husband. The husband, lo and behold, had been to KVD before. This was the piece he got. While it’s not technically High Voltage work, it’s too hilarious to not include.
6 Sickest: The Mermaid Sleeve
Sleeves are so impressive to look at. When they’re made up of a bunch of disparate images, they’re pretty good. It’s the quantity that’s impressive. But when that sleeve is crafted with a specific theme in mind, watch out. That’s when the real magic happens. The mermaid sleeve was a thing of beauty, and a great example of that.
5 Messed Up: That Raven Eye
On the flipside of that mermaid sleeve is this weird piece of work. If someone asks for an eye, we’d be willing to bet that they didn’t want the rest of the animal with it. Somewhere along the way that preference must have been lost, though, as this is an eyeball that looks ready to take flight. Weird.
4 Sickest: Hello Cleveland
Hello Cleveland? More like hello amazing tattoo! This is a piece that really represents exactly what we mean when we say “sick” tattoos. It’s dramatic, it’s big, it has a message, and the actual artistry of it is second to none. This is one of those pieces that truly exemplifies why High Voltage is still popular today.
3 Sickest: The Husband Portrait
We couldn’t not include the husband portrait if we talked about the husband himself. Yes, the gentleman who had the firefighter inspired tattoo a few points back looks like this. His wife was the one who got the portrait done, as he received a cancer diagnosis. It’s a sweet idea, and a beautiful rendition.
2 Sickest: This Ho-Hum (But Very Well Done) Face
The angle is a little off, and we’re not entirely sure why it’s facing that way, but we still had to include it as one of the good ones. The sickest tattoos are often the ones that are either super abstract or super realistic. This one seems to straddle the line as a realistic piece surrounded by smaller, more unique things. Well integrated!
1 Messed Up: This Dog's Breakfast
Of course we saved the best (of the worst) for last! Kat Von D’s old friend Jeffree Star was the one who got this piece done, and it was meant to be a nice rendition of his dog. Looks like Kat Von D is more of a cat person though, as this doggy portrait has turned into a bit of a dog’s breakfast rather than a beautiful bone.
Sources: imdb.com, youtube.com