You’ve made a living using mainstream outlets—such as TLC, Sephora and now HarperCollins—as a catapult for your visions. Do you think the punk notion of “selling out” is dead?

There’s a difference between being successful and doing what you love as a means for a living. I think that TLC, Sephora, my book, everything, those are just platforms; they’re vessels for me to be able to do what I want and tell people what I’m into and what I believe in. I think a better definition for selling out would be changing yourself or your style or your music or your art whatever it may be in order to sell whatever it is—CDs, ratings. I personally have not changed anything to make money. We passed up so many big time deals because, shit, man, I don’t eat McDonald’s. It’s just not something I believe in. Sephora? I shop there. I fucking bought makeup there religiously before we had the deal, so I was like, ‘Oh yeah, this makes perfect sense.’

What advice would you give to people who may feel like they don’t belong?

I’m lucky enough to have parents who really instilled certain views on life. They always taught me to do things based on love, not because you’re scared of what people are going to think. Too many people put value in what other people’s opinions are and I’ve always been like, ‘Hey man, I’m not trying to turn people into me or tell people this is how you should be. I’m just trying to do my thing and be happy and not hurt anybody.’ I’m just living a life based on love, you know? So, I think for those who are artistic or different or feel different, I would just say keep it up. Don’t let the man get you down. So many people told me that as an artist you’ll never succeed, or it’s not something that’s solid, or ‘you’re never going to get a job looking like that,’ but for me, it worked the opposite, and I was able to be successful based on keeping it real.

You’re an author, entrepreneur, model, and TV star. What is your next undertaking?

I’ve got my whole family working at the shop now and I’m the happiest person on the planet. I just got Frankenstein’s castle, so I’m happy just living with my hairless cat. I’ve been taking a lot of pictures lately and getting back into my photography. I haven’t shot seriously since I was 16 and now I’m getting back into it with all the new digital stuff. I could definitely see photography as a next venture. I would love to be a renaissance woman. I want to be able to be good at everything I do and impress myself. But other than that, I’ve just been trying to be happy and working on myself.

High Voltage Tattoo will be released on Jan. 20. L.A. Ink picks back up with the newest episode Jan. 8 at 10 p.m. on TLC. For more, check out katvond.com.

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