If clients at High Voltage Tattoo in Los Angeles want to go down the rabbit hole into Kat Von D’s weird, wonderful world, all they need to do is head next door to Wonderland. The gallery-slash-boutique is full of fine art, dark and devilish decor, rock ‘n’ roll extras, and gothic curios—all curated by Von D and her crew. “The main purpose was to create a space for people to be inspired by different forms of art, and to make it accessible,” Von D explains. “Lord knows I’ve stepped into countless fancy galleries that were so intimidating and sterile I couldn’t even enjoy the art.”
If visitors’ reactions are any indication, Wonderland is a welcoming place. “It’s great to watch people when they visit for the first time,” says Wonderland’s manager Marya Gullo. “Lots of times they come for Kat’s book [The Tattoo Chronicles], which is right up front. They check out the cover, and she’s wearing these crazy, glittery shoes, and they look up and see the same shoes on display. So they go over there, and then they look up again and see the throne that’s on the cover of the book, so they go over there … all of a sudden they realize it’s not just a fine art gallery—they’re immersed in Kat’s world.”
And right about now that’s a very popular place to be. At the end of last year, TLC ordered more episodes of LA Ink, which left off with the opening of Wonderland. The show is also in syndication overseas, bringing a new set of admirers from abroad. Add to the millions of LA Ink fans the number of people who have gotten tattooed by the star, purchased her makeup at Sephora, read one of her books, or seen photos of her in the tabloids, and it’s apparent Kat’s tipping point has arrived. But that doesn’t mean she’s full of herself.
“I still find it a little mind-boggling that people take any interest in me at all,” she says. And just to be clear, Wonderland—where the photos on these pages were shot—isn’t an ego project: “The intention wasn’t so much to create a platform for things I egotistically want to share, but more a vehicle to spotlight the wide spectrum of artists I feel deserve some attention.”