“People ask me to tattoo my signature often, actually,” Shanghai Kate explains after carefully inking her name on an adoring fan at the Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention. “It’s very weird. I don’t understand it. I’m grateful, I think it's a wonderful thing that they want me to do, but I guess I don't feel ready for it, you know? I don't feel that important yet.”
Hearing this come from the mouth of “Shanghai” Kate Hellenbrand, known far and wide as “America’s Tattoo Godmother” was startling. In a world now filled with so many incredible female artists, it’s hard to imagine a time when there were no women in the tattoo industry at all. Having now worked within it for over 40 years, there are few who have better insight into this significant shift than Kate.
We had the chance to speak with Kate at the Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention about her long, remarkable career, what first sparked her interest in tattooing, and her undying passion for the craft. Moments after memorializing herself on a fellow woman within the tattoo industry, Kate told Tattoodo, “I’ve had a very wonderful career, a very long career. But you know, I just do what I love to do. I’ve been the luckiest woman in the world that I get to do what I love, and have this great following.This is what I’ve done for 46 years, this is who I am.”
When Kate isn’t on the road taking conventions by storm or visiting other shops around the world, she’s holding down the fort at her own shop in Austin, Texas. Check out the video above for a peek at our exclusive chat with Kate in Philly, and be sure keep up with her latest news on Instagram or by checking out her website.