Updated: Oct 21, 2020
Katrian Jackson, also known at Kat Tat, is originally from Chicago, Illinois. Kat has been tattooing for the past 11 years and loves what she does. She gained her first real exposure after her appearence on Black Ink Crew: Chicago back in 2015. We had the pleasure of interviewing Kat and hearing more about her story...
What is your profession and how long have you been in this line of work?
“I am a tattoo artist and I have been tattooing for 11 years. So this month actually marks 11 years since I ever picked up a tattoo machine. Time flies.”
Where did your passion for art stem from and what helped give you ambition to keep working towards your dream job?
“My mom always had the talent, like she could draw really well, so I think it’s something she just passed down to me. I always took art classes for my easy A’s and then once I got older towards senior year of high school, like that’s when everyone starts getting their first tattoos. So, me being the artsy girl everyone would be like, ‘would you draw my tattoo for me?’ So I eventually got my first tattoo, and I drew it and the tattoo artist who did it was like ‘you drew this?’ and they were like ‘man you should try it.’ This kind of stuck with me. I went to Mizzou studying math and I was there for a summer school program and I had a lot of free time after class because I only had like two classes so that's when I ordered up a tattoo kit and just started practicing on my friends-- and after a while I knew it was something that I wanted to do full time and make a career out of”
When was the first moment of success for you?
“I worked at culvers for six years. And then transferred to the one at my college and I remember getting like $300 checks with taxes and stuff taken out, so once I started tattooing and making $300 in a day was my first taste of success on a small scale. My fist moment of real success was getting the TV exposure because I knew I was great, and people around me knew I did great work, but once we got the TV show that was my moment to show the world what I could do as a tattoo artist especially as a college drop out.”
What was your job before becoming a professional portrait artist?
“Working at Culver’s was really the only real job I ever had. I applied for it when I was 15, and my first day of work whas the day I turned 16. I was so excited, like I was going to get a Culver’s ‘C’ as my Fist tattoo because I was so passionate. I had like three different promotions, and by the time I went to college I was the training specialist and was super passionate about that.”
What has been your biggest failure in your career that you have grown from?
“I guess it was moving to LA, it was really hard in the beginning, but it all paid off. So it wasn’t a fail in the end. I went, like, broke after a year even after being on TV and everything. I just thought that I could move to LA and be super successful right away because I was on a national TV show and I thought I would have all these appointments all across the country. But, it wasn’t like that at first. I moved out here and nobody cared who I was. I didn’t have that many appointments. The cost of living in LA was triple the amount it was in Chicago. So, I was here for about six months before I hit ground zero and had to ask my dad to borrow money to help pay my rent for a month and then I had to sublease my place and go back to Chicago where I had appointments and where I was established and grind and get my money up and come back to LA with a new focus and a new plan. The second time around it worked.”
What’s a funny or crazy experience you have had in your career?
“I worked at a shop in Chicago and I was the only girl in the shop that first year, and all the guys that worked there were super protective of me. So, I had a client once that was flirting and being kind of inappropriate and the guys overheard the guys comments and they came in my booth and told him to chill out. The guy got a little smartmouth with them and they literally threw him out of the shop.”
What is your advice to others struggling to follow their dream and pursue their passion?
“I think that a lot of people when they have a passion, there can’t be a lot of doubt behind it and just like me I had so much doubt in choosing tattoos. Like I said I went to school to be a math teacher. Everything was mapped out like you go to school and when you graduate you’re gonna be a teacher. You know everything was safe. And then choosing tattoos was very much a risk. Like will I always have clients, will there be a time where I don’t have clients, will I be good at this. But you can’t give into that fear. If you are going to do something that you are passionate about, you need to make that decision on if yo0u are going to do it or not. And when you make that decision you need to literally need to pour 100% of yourself into it. You can’t have any fear”
In your own words, what is your Hopeless Vision?
“Every artist in my shop has been hand selected. Like they are so great and we all have similar stories. We have all taken risks and all of our personal journeys have led us here but we are such a solid group of artists with such amazing stories and I want them to shine. I want them to maximize their complete potential and I want people to discover them.”
Today, Kat continues to persue her passions, follow her dreams, and aspire to inspire!
Make sure to follow Kat on instagram @kattatgirl