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Shanghai Kate Hellenbrand


Shanghai Kate Hellenbrand

Your Birthday:

October 29, 1943

When You Started Tattooing:


How You Became Interested in Tattooing:

Was always interested in art and drawing and how tools worked. While working at an ad agency in NYC and investigating the underground world of tattooing in Manhattan with Michael Malone, I was hired by the Museum of American Folk Art to help co-produce the contemporary section of the landmark exhibit "Tattoo!"-- the first time tattooing had been presented on the walls of any museum or gallery.

After finding the best in tattooing in the world, Malone decided to open a shop in our NYC apartment. I was curious how the little machine worked so I did three tattoos on one of our clients and I was off and running.

Because I had helped to "legitimize" tattooing as a real artform through the museum exhibit, the world's best tattoo artists ( Sailor Jerry Collins , Paul Rogers, Huck Spaulding, Ed Hardy and others) felt indebted to us and would then gratefully, although sometimes reluctantly, answer our questions and help us learn this incredible artform.

After NYC, Michael and I relocated to San Diego to work with Ed Hardy, we attended The Council of the Seven, the first International Tattoo Convention held at Sailor Jerry's Hawaii home in 1972. I stayed behind the others to work with Jerry for three weeks.

When Jerry died in 1973, Michael and I bought his estate from his widow. In 1977 I moved to Los Angeles to work with Jack Rudy, Freddie Negrete and other members of Ed Hardy's shops in Tattooland, Realistic Tattoo and Tattoo City.

In 1979 I went on the road to tattoo throughout Europe , traveling from country to country.

I am the first tattoo artist, male or female, to have adopted the gypsy traveling lifestyle of my generation. I was also the first tattoo artist (male or female) to appear on the "Today" Show.

I have owned shops in Utah, Hawaii, Alaska, New York and now Texas... I recognized the importance of the acetate tattoo stencil as a legitimate new tattoo collectible and raised consciousness that these pieces of art and history were valuable hand-carved pieces of art worth preserving.

I have written three books about Sailor Jerry's acetate tattoo stencils. I present a lecture: From Voodoo to Vogue which traces the global and universal appeal of tattooing from paleolithic times to present.

My clients include: Howard Stern, Pearl Jam, Casey Affleck, photographer David LaChapelle, Parvati Shallow of "Survivor" fame, members of the Joacquin Phoenix family as well as many other models, musicians and actors from the New York City area.

I continue to travel worldwide to attend tattoo conventions and to work as a Guest Artist. I am currently opening my shop in Austin, Texas: Shanghai Kate's and am concentrating on writing my autobiography and other books pertaining to the tattoo history I have personally witnessed.

I am the only female featured in the upcoming full length documentary: TATTOO NATION , about the evolution of black and grey single needle "jailhouse" style of tattooing. Film to be released in March, 2013.

Favorite Style/Genre of Tattoo:

I love all styles of tattooing but specifically enjoy: Old School American Traditional, Black and Grey fine line photogrealism, Tribal and Japanese Horimono style.

What Tattoo Artists Inspire You Most:

There are so many but to narrow it down a bit:

Sailor Jerry, Paul Rogers, Ed Hardy, Zeke Owen, Bill Funk, Mario Barth, Jack Rudy, Freddie Negrete, Trevor Marshall, Aaron Bell, Tony Olivas, Carlos Torres, Boris and Zsolt of Hungary, Shige of Japan, Filip Leu, Jose Lopez, Hannah Atchison, Kim Saigh, Liz Cook, Jason Butcher, Sake, Tim Hendrickson, Corey Miller, Bob Roberts ... and a thousand more who continue to pursue the excellence of spirit and design, hue and clarity, truth and honor and very hard work...

Other Interests/Hobbies:

Cooking, Travel, Camping, Writing, Photography, Dancing, Reading

Book an Appointment

Visit Shanghai Kate's website here , or visit her Facebook page. You can email Kate at dameoftheworld@aol.com to reserve an appointment.


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