Katrina Jackson – The Softer Side of ‘Kat Tat’


I’m literally just a regular girl from a regular neighborhood -tried to go off to college, but found my passion in art and tattooing, and I took a risk to make that my career and I made it happen. ”
-Katrina (Kat Tat) Jackson

Meet the ARtist

If you were asked to provide an opinion about the artwork of Painter, Katrina Jackson, you may have to search the name, but what if you were asked about that tat-girl, Kat Tat? Kat Tat, from VH1’s hit reality series Black Ink Crew Chicago? Or Kat Tat, the tattoo artist who went viral after tattooing a portrait of a vintage burlesque dancer on her own thigh? Jackson is an artist -a painter and tattoo artist. A fact solidified over a decade ago when the, now, 27 year old entered an art show at the age of 16.

Jackson recalls the childhood experience that helped shape she today.

“I’ve always kind-of possessed the talent of being able to draw. When I was 16, I think, I was in junior in high school and one of my drawings won first place in Illinois, and they flew me across the country to Florida to compete in nationals with like 3,000 other students around the world. That showed me that I could really do something with this art. If I can be in high school and one of my sketches sends me across the country; That shows me that I have some serious talent.”

Flying to Florida served as an eye opener to her talent, but a broken heart would spur on her love for painting and tattoo art and tattooing -earning her the nickname Tat Girl.

“Going into my senior year is when I got the interest in tattooing, and when I really stepped out and started finding myself. I had this boyfriend that I was madly in love with.  I thought my life would just be being this guys wife and my senior year in high school is when I had my first break up -my first heartbreak.

from breakup to breaktrhough

So,  after the breakup I really started to find who I am and explore things that I want to do, and that’s actually when I got my grades up. It was just like ‘Ok!, Let me focus on this art a little bit. Let me see where this will take me,” she says

Creativity spurred on through the pain of love loss. Imagine that, and who can relate? By college, Jackson’s interest in tattoos grew from paper sketching  art work for classmates future  tattoos, to freshman-year dorm room “skin work.” Her work, again,  proved itself and Jackson became known around campus as “Tat Girl!”

Jackson found her love and passion for painting and tattooing taking over and her grades quickly fell to the back burner yet again. On the other hand,  due to her determination and work ethic, her artistry was taking her to places beyond her wildest dreams.

“I tried to go off to college, but found my passion in art and tattooing and I took a risk to make that my career and I made it happen. I don’t really believe in being a starving artist. It may not even be art that’s your passion, but whatever your passion is, it’s important to go out and chase and it and really make it work for you! I’m out here trying to get it and inspire girls that are just like me. I’m just a very very hard working artist,” she says.

2015 was an explosive year for Jackson, showcasing two shows at Miami’s Art Basel and making her television debut as part of the 9Mag Tattoo Studio crew on Black Ink Crew Chicago.

She explains what it was like having two exhibits in Miami’s Art basel and the inspiration brought on by that experience.

“It was great! It’s every artists dream to go to Art Basel and showcase. For me to have two shows in one year it felt amazing. It made me feel like I was doing something right to have my paintings show across the country and it was such a nice, classy event. It’s just another step forward in my career.”

therapy through art

Art is therapeutic for most, Jackson shares with us which creative style is more therapeutic when comparing painting and tattooing.

“The best way to explain it is, with tattooing I’m providing a service, so it’s always that -not even pressure, because it is what I do, but you have to make sure that it’s perfect. You’re providing a service for that person you’re taking their idea and bringing it to life. With painting, it’s mine. It’s whatever I want to do. So if I want to get away from tattooing and do something grip [sic]. If I want to sip on a little wine while I’m painting and see what I come up with it’s a little more relaxing.Tattooing is more my second nature, painting is less pressure -you know, I don’t have to worry about if I mess up.”

keeping it sexy

Jackson explains the importance of sensual and sexual artistic expression, and owning it.

“I think that women are beautiful and I think that it’s ok for women to own their sexuality and feel beautiful and just be feminine and sexy. Me being a tattoo artist, I want to change the stereotype of tattoo artists and the whole tattoo industry, cause people think biker and edgy. So my latest collection was painting women with tattoos and still making them look soft and exude sexiness and focus on their beauty and show that they can wear these tattoos without distracting their beauty.”

Jackson has to proven herself as an artist since high school, quickly rising to fame with 9Mag and Black Ink Crew Chicago. With fame comes with money, power and influence. Jackson details how fame and the experiences that come along with it have affected her artistically?

fame, focus and the future

“I have stayed super super focused while still being transparent on TV, like I go through some stuff on TV. But when we got this opportunity I was like, ‘I’m gonna make it. I’m going to work my ass off during this short opportunity, cause TV can be here today and gone tomorrow.’  So it has put me in full throttle -not the pressure but the platform made it very important for me to put out my best work. It really pushed me and it showed me what I’m capable of and It’s enabled me to work to my full potential, it’s even shown too. When I tell you I go through some stuff on this show, but when I put out my work people don’t care. They’re like, ‘Yeah, she’s this, but she can tattoo.’ Or ‘oh yeah, she acts like this, but she can paint her ass off.’ So my talent overshadows it.”

As for the future, Jackson will continue tattooing portraits and black and gray realism, but plans on learning a new-school “neo traditional” type method of tattooing.  And if you want a “tat” from Kat?

“It’s very easy, just email Kat@kattatgirl.com, you can google Kat Black Ink, and my website and everything will pop up and there are direct links, and everything will take you to my email. On Instagram I’m @kattatgirl. Just send me an email and you’ll get an automatic response with everything you need, then just decide how you gonna book.”

Kat’s latest paintings, modeling pictures and her portfolio can also be found at www.kattatgirl.com.

All pictures courtesy of www.kattatgirl.com and @kattatgirl

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