Vintage beaded top.
Katherine Hartley is lightning in a tattooed bottle—so much so that Monster Energy Drink picked her to add some electricity to their concert circuit as an effervescent Monster Music Ambassador. Her love for music began when she started playing the piano at 6 and continued through high school, where she was immersed in the punk and hardcore scenes. At 18 she adopted a nomadic lifestyle, moving from Utah to Arizona to San Diego, stopping long enough to collect a few tattoos along the way. “Art and music are my passions,” she says. “I love my job and love all the places it takes me. I could never work a desk job. I’ve always been a free bird!”
This free spirit inks homages to the people who have shaped her life. She’s dedicated her Japanese-style sleeve to her half brother. And many of her other tattoos—including 20 hearts distributed across her body, “True Love” on her lower stomach, and even names of old boyfriends—are reflections of where she’s been and who was there with her. “I always feel like I’m getting a tattoo at a life marker,” Hartley says.
Hartley recently moved back to her family’s home in Los Angeles, but her love for the road runs deep. “I have the legendary pinstriper Von Dutch’s ‘Flying Eye’ on my hip,” she says. “I’m a huge hot rod and rat rod fan. I’m starting a Rat Fink piece on my back; [his creator] Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth is such a legend!” Her largest piece by far is an expansive phoenix on her left side that was originally a painting by Fella, her go-to tattoo artist at Absolute in San Diego. “My jaw hit the floor when I saw it. I had just turned 25 and was starting to really find out who I was and get self-confidence. I feel like the phoenix was my rebirth tattoo.”
The newest addition to Hartley’s amalgam of ink is an image of Tank Girl by artist Alex Ruiz. “I effing love her! Her character is fun and inspiring, a modern-day heroine—an independent woman with an attitude. I feel that’s where I’m at in life: I’m single, and not looking, and off to take over the world.” —Cristina Guarino