Kat Von D Beauty's Artistry Collective tells us about the fictional characters that inspire their badass makeup
Even the most naive Kat Von D fan knows she has a keen eye when it comes to artistic talent. After all, Kat started off as an artist and tattooist before launching her best-selling brand, for which she still designs the packaging. She put these instincts to use back in March, when she announced the Kat Von D Artistry Collective — a team of makeup artists Kat handpicked from Instagram herself, launching a new KVD Beauty YouTube channel in tandem. The squad, which consists of Leah Carmichael, Kelseyanna Fitzpatrick, Tara Buenrostro, and Steffanie Strazzere, has since been helping Kat with everything from testing formulas to teaching master classes around the globe.
In the inaugural video post, Kat spoke fondly of each girl’s work, such as Leah’s mastery at complexion and Kelseyanna’s ability to work with texture. One glance at any of their Instagram feeds and you’re guaranteed to be inspired to try something new with your makeup. (It doesn’t hurt that the girls often post sneak peeks at upcoming KVD products either!)
We recently sat down with the collective to talk about working with Kat, their fictional style icons, and the almost-impossible-to-answer query of their favorite Everlasting Liquid Lipstick.
HelloGiggles: Which Kat Von D Beauty product would you recommend to a newbie?
Leah Carmichael: The first thing I tried was the Lock-It Foundation and it was longwear with high pigment and coverage that it made me want to try everything else. So, I always recommend it.
Steffanie Strazzere: I think that the beauty of this brand is that there’s truly something for everyone and it’s so versatile. For instance, my nana just turned 94, and she wears Lolita lipstick every single day.
Tara Buenrostro: You could honestly start anywhere, so it kind of depends on the person. But I think what makes the brand so special is that Kat really wants you to enhance your creativity and step outside of your comfort zone. What also separates Kat Von D Beauty apart from a lot of other brands is Kat herself. She’s so involved in everything the brand stands for. She touches every single product, tests every one before it’s put out, she hand-draws every single box herself. And not only that, the brand being cruelty-free and vegan is like, “Hello!” Drop the mic.
HG: If there was a fictional character that inspired your makeup, who would it be?
Steffanie: Mine is Jim Henson, the creator of The Muppets. The thing that was so amazing about him is that any time he would create a puppet, he would think of the storyline beforehand. Like, what are they doing? Are they evil? Are they good? And I do that personally every time I create makeup. I think of the whole storyline and what they’re experiencing and the emotion you want to evoke from that.
Leah: I always feel like I am a mixture of Jareth from Labyrinth and Lydia Deetz. In high school, I always put black shadow under my eyes to look dead, and then I always had my makeup like Jareth, so I feel like I’m a good mixture of the two. At least I like to think that I look like that.
Kelseyanna Fitzpatrick: I’m obsessed with movies, that’s always where I pull my inspiration. I even listen to movie soundtracks while I do my makeup, I’m such a nerd. My recent favorite is Crimson Peak. The makeup is so damn good. It’s so moody and dead and inspiring.
Tara: I draw a lot of my inspiration from graffiti art, but if I was trying to find a character, honestly the first thing that comes to my mind is the Lisa Frank sticker book. The sticker books and the coloring books … If you go on my Instagram page, it a lot of times looks like a unicorn rainbow, so I think that I’m definitely inspired by that. I like graffiti art and Lisa Frank.
HG: Which of the Everlasting Liquid Lipstick shades do you constantly reach for? I’m sure this is like the worst question ever.
Steffanie: I think that part of the beauty of the brand is you can change your character every day. The two that I been gravitating towards the most recently, because I can’t pick one, is Dagger and Crucifix. Dagger is a really true, blue-based, almost dove gray, and Crucifix is this really rich chocolate brown, but has a tint of gray to it too. I’ve never seen any colors like it on the market, so slapping those on my face is my fave.
Leah: Well, Nahz Fur Atoo is my soul mate. I love to wear no makeup and it’s just my perfect red. It looks good with freckles and with a full face of makeup, too. And I love Bow and Arrow so, yes this question is difficult.
Kelseyanna: Nahz Fur Atoo is also my favorite because it’s the most crimson-gold, blood color. It looks good on everybody, since that’s the undertone we all have. And I also like to use it for eyeliner and on my cheeks as a really dramatic blush. That’s what I wore to the party last night.
Tara: I think we could all agree that if we could stick our hand in a bag of ELLs and just pick one it would be good. But if I had to pick, and what you’ll always honestly find inside my makeup bag, is Ludwig. It is the most perfect nude and, I mean, since I have Lisa Frank eyes all the time, I don’t want to have Lisa Frank and Lisa Frank. So, I tend to go a little bit more neutral on my lips, and it goes with any and everything. I could be wearing black most of the time, but if I wanted to switch it up and wear white, I’d still do Ludwig. It’s the best nude ever, I love it.
HG: So are there any makeup trends that you’re tired of seeing?
Leah: I just don’t like trends in general, so that’s pretty much it.
Steffanie: The trend that I’m ready to see go is actually the trolls, the people that think that they’re the makeup authority, because nobody is. It’s an art form. If everybody could stop staying, “You’re doing the trend wrong,” and just focus on it back as an artistry and an artistic outlet, and just making yourself feel beautiful, everything would be way more chill and you’d be able to really enjoy it.
Tara: I think if people would create based off of, maybe, their emotions and how they feel, and be comfortable and confident in that, to me, that’s more inspiring than another cut crease, you know? Everybody looking the same, what’s inspiring in that?
HG: What skin care products do you swear by?
Steffanie: My, actually, holy grail right now that I’ve been obsessed with is the Tarte FRXXXTION Stick. It’s an exfoliating stick that looks almost like a glue stick, and it’s got carbon powder in it and some sea salt. You draw it onto your face and you let it dry, and then you just use a warm towel to exfoliate and your skin is so smooth. It’s like baby soft after, and it stays like that for days. And that’s been my summer essential. I’ve got a mini one to keep in my kit. You can use it on your lips, everywhere.
Leah: A gallon of water and I actually swear by this brand called Paula’s Choice. They have this really cool liquid exfoliant, and then I just follow it with a toner every night. It’s been the best thing that I’ve done for my skin.
Kelseyanna: I’ve been loving Luminance Skincare, it’s an amazing vegan and cruelty-free brand. I use the delicate cleanser and the rosewater toner and the acne serum. I have super dehydrated, acne-prone skin so it’s been a lifesaver.
Tara: My favorite and my absolute holy grail is definitely coconut oil. I love coconut oil, and when I was transitioning to being completely vegan, it took me forever to find a moisturizer that I truly loved. Coconut oil is obviously vegan, and I like things that multitask, so I’ll kind of dump a little bit of the excess in the ends of my hair, and throw some in when I’m cooking. My skin feels so hydrated. I just love that it’s so natural, doesn’t make me break out, and my skin just always looks really glowing. It even works great mixing it with your foundation, too.
HG: What’s the best beauty tip you’ve ever received?
Leah: Mine was actually to never follow trends and just be yourself, and that one day it will pay off, and it definitely has. That’s the best advice anybody ever gave me.
Steffanie: It’s always easier to add more than it is to take away, and I think especially with Instagram being the way it is right now, where people are pouring a ton of foundation on their face and then blending it in and it looks like a mask almost. With the Lock-It foundation, you really need like two pea-sized amounts, and it’s enough coverage for your entire face. So, when these people are using like half a bottle, I just think it’s always easier to add more than to take away. Especially because once you’ve done a full face, there’s no going back. You have to take it all off and start again, and I think that the beauty in holding back is really something.
Kelseyanna: My favorite tip I’ve learned recently was from Leah, using a gentle makeup remover on a sharp brush instead of on a Q-tip to clean up your lip lines and your eyeliner. It’s amazing. It melts everything into place instead of really wiping everything off, it’s so cool.
Tara: Mine is very to similar to Steff’s, less is more. I used to just put glitter and cut crease and squirt foundation. I used to do the whole nine yards, and I think mastering the art of holding back is definitely it.