TMSLA Keynote Recap: Living in Color - Kat Von D - Hosted by James Vincent

Friday, April 1, 2016

I actually sat in on this keynote out of necessity since I had already made my rounds through the floor, my feet were tired, and I was getting cranky during my wait for the last keynote of the day, which was Union Strong: Women in Television and Film. I'm actually glad I decided to go to this one because I learned way more about Vat Von D and her products than I did before... which was approximately zero things.

The line for this keynote started piling up over an hour before the keynote was supposed to take place. I had the pleasure of waiting next to a couple of gregarious Latinas and during our chat in the queue I got to hear why they like Kat so much and what their brand means to them. Like I said before, I knew pretty much nothing about Kat prior to this forum, so I had no idea that she was born and raised for several years in Mexico and that because of that she has become a huge pillar or inspiration for a multitude of Mexican and other Latinas and Latinos in the makeup industry. Their excitement only intensified as we slowly ambled into the already half-full space. One of the lovely women, a thyroid cancer survivor, was so anxious to be there that any movement from down the hall made her crane her neck looking for any sign of Kat. Talking to these women pre-forum made me almost giddy to be there.

Once Kat entered the space there was a nearly deafening roar of cheers and applause from the room, which was fully seated in addition to people sitting on the floor in front and others standing nearly completely lining the back wall. Her tall, slim frame was clothed head to toe in black clothing, tattoos peeking out on various limbs. In contrast to her badass outfit, her hair and face were done up in an almost sweet fashion, heavily reminiscent of a 1940s pinup model, and a powerful red lip popped against the cascading layers of black. Silence fell almost instantly as she and James Vincent, the education head of TMSLA and forum host, took the stage with microphones in hand.

Over the next 30 minutes, I learned a LOT about Kat Von D. She's incredibly candid, swears like a sailor, and is an exceptionally creative artist who draws inspiration from anything and everything. From the time she started talking about her childhood, growing up in Mexico and being the "weird" kid in the class, you could definitely feel a sense of sincerity and genuine warmth coming from her. Kat got her start in the makeup industry after Sephora noticed her when she was on Miami Ink in the mid to late 00s. Her line originally started out with 4 "perfect" red lipsticks and took off like wildfire from there, making it the most successful Sephora-based brand to date.

Over the past decade plus, Kat has made a name from herself in many industries, many of which are male dominated. She rose above male scrutiny in the tattoo industry by letting her work speak for itself, rather than be defined by her being a female artist. Instead of deciding to take her career route in the makeup industry, she just kind of happened into it. Basically, she said "fuck being a one trick pony", and branched out into several different things. She took a page from the book of Salvador Dali, who did painting, poetry, sculpture, architecture, film, and pretty much everything in the arts and just does everything. Despite being a well known name in tattoo culture, the fashion industry, and makeup community, she doesn't consider herself a official MUA/Tattooer, or fashion designer.

The banter between Von d and Vincent slowly turned into a more industry focused line of thought once the questions began. When posed with the question "What do you love most about the beauty line", she answered with a somewhat surprising answer. Sure, she adores the creative process because she is an artist in many respects, but she also enjoys learning how things work. When it comes to deciding what to launch and what to name products, Kat pulls inspiration from just about everywhere. Shade names are generally derived from her muses, which can be anything from friends to pets to favorite songs like "Bachelorette" which is her favorite Bjork song. While most brands decide their launches in advance based on trend predictions, Kat files those in her "round filing cabinet" (i.e. the trash can) and decides what she wants to produce based on what is inspiring her at the moment, which have ranged from nature patterns to getting heart broken.

Also, that rumored collab with her and Too Faced is definitely happening. She made a point of not revealing exactly what is in the works, but certainly confirmed it. She followed that up by saying that her and Jerrod Blandino, the creator of Too Faced, are close and enjoy being happy for each other and their various successes. She made a very valid point when she expressed her dislike of negative competition between creators because it hinders everyone in the process.

After what seemed an instant, Kat's time was over and her head makeup artist for the brand, Erik Soto, took the stage. Soto zipped around the stage demonstrating several products from the line on his model, including a new item, but put his own twist on it all. The first star of the show was their new Color Correcting Eyeshadow Primer, which comes in 5 flesh toned shades that will suit a variety of skin tones. Even though this is marketed as an eyeshadow primer it can also be used as a lip primer and concealer primer. Naturally, me being the easily excitable lemming that I am, I bought it right after the demonstration. Soto continued the demonstration by highlighting their Lock-It Featherweight Primer, which is not just a primer - it's also a mixing medium which opens it up to a plethora of uses. He demonstrated this by taking Vampira, an Everlasting Liquid Lipstick, and sheering it out with Lock-It to make a long-wearing cream blush AND a wash of color for the lids (almost the entire line, bar the lip products, are eye safe so use lip products near the eye area at your own discretion).

Products used:

Eyes: Color-Correcting Eyeshadow Base "Light", 
Everlasting Liquid Lipstick "Vampira" + Lock-It Featherweight Primer

Cheeks: Lock-It Featherweight Primer + Everlasting Liquid Lipstick "Vampira"

Lips: Everlasting Liquid Lipstick "Vampira"


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