As a spectator, it’s easy to scroll through a tattooer’s Instagram and think, “I can do that.” But trust us, tattooing is much harder than it looks. Every tattoo style has its unique challenges and while it may look simple, fine-line is one of the most difficult. Kat Vargas has taken on the challenges of fine-line in full force, making the style her specialty. We sat down with Kat to learn how she discovered tattooing, what led her to fine-line and the surprising direction she may take her art in the future.
When did you first realize you’re an artist? As a child I always found myself doodling and it just progressed so quickly throughout the years. I always envisioned myself becoming an artist, but I wasn’t really sure [exactly] what I wanted to do until I was about 15.
Who were some tattoo artists you looked up to early in your career? I looked up to Kat Von D for most of my life—her skills and progression throughout the years really inspired me to be a tattoo artist. I also enjoyed Grace Neutral’s Vice series, she’s absolutely incredible. She’s a very unique artist and very open to learning from other artists and cultures, inspiring me to travel and really look into the history of tattooing. Grace Neutral is such a badass.
Did you have a traditional apprenticeship? I went through a traditional apprenticeship for about two to three years. It was pretty rough, but I thank them now for making me earn the skill of tattooing.
What drew you to fine-line tattooing? I always loved the soft look in fine-line work. I would definitely say I taught myself about fine-line tattooing. I was surrounded by black-and-grey realism artists, which was great, but I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and make a name for myself.
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of fine-line tattooing? My favorite part of fine-line is knowing I have clients specifically coming to me for it. It is such a great feeling that I can provide this service for them. My least favorite part is how tedious and long it can take. As simple as it looks, it’s very difficult but so worth it in the end.
What are your favorite flowers to tattoo and why? Peonies and roses are my thing. I love going with those flowers every time a client gives me creative freedom. And luckily, they’re very popular flowers.
Take us through how you started using UV ink and what clients should know about it. It started as a random conversation I had with an artist. In the beginning I was hesitant about it because I didn’t know if it was safe or if it even healed well. After all the research, it turns out it is very safe and actually heals great.
A lot of clients mistake this ink as glow-in-the-dark ink, but that’s not true—it only lights up under UV light. The colors are very vibrant and I’ve had great heals so far.
Do you prefer doing black-and-grey or color? Why? Personally, black-and-grey always heals the best. Color is so beautiful, but it can lose its vibrancy, especially if you spend a lot of time in the sun.
How do you think your tattoos will heal over time? I think they will heal great, especially if the clients thoroughly take care of them.
If you had to switch tattoo styles, what would you choose? I would definitely get into large-scale black-and-grey realism. I’ve only done a few of these tattoos so far. They take so much time and work, which is why I don’t do much of it, but it is such a great style of tattooing.
What else should our readers know about you? I will always be learning and progressing as an artist. Every day I look forward to growing and expanding my style. I’m very open to new ideas and I fully appreciate the amount of support I receive online from people who’ve watched me grow since the very beginning.