“Shanghai” Kate Hellenbrand is known as America’s Tattoo Godmother for her 43+ year career beginning in New York City after co-producing the landmark exhibit ‘TATTOO’ at the prestigious Museum of American Folk Art. She has managed or owned shops in California, Hawaii, Alaska, Utah, Philadelphia and New York City and now has a studio in Austin, Texas. She has worked alongside the most notable names in the business; Sailor Jerry Collins, Hawaii; Ed Hardy, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles; Zeke Owen, North Carolina, Jack Rudy, Los Angeles along with many others.
In 1972, Sailor Jerry Collins hosted Kate, Michael Malone, Ed Hardy, Des Connelly and Kazuo Oguri at his home for the first Tattoo Artist Gathering — known as the Council of the Seven — acknowledged as the first international tattoo convention.
She studied at the Art Center School of Design and Chouinards School of Fine Arts in Los Angeles. She completed two years of nursing training and is a government appointed Tattoo Shop/Health Inspector in the state of Utah.
Kate has appeared on the Today Show, the Tonight Show, Prime Time Access, numerous documentaries on the Travel Channel, Discovery Channel and TBS. She is the only woman in TATTOO NATION, a documentary charting the evolution of black and grey fineline tattooing from prison to photorealism.
Her award-winning work has appeared in all major tattoo magazines, she is a writer for Tattoo Planet, Ink, Skin and Ink and International Tattoo Art magazine. Her lecture “From Voodoo to Vogue” has been presented at universities, conventions and museums including Columbia University where she was a featured panelist at the International Women’s Leadership Conference.
Howard Stern is a celebrity client as is Casey Affleck, photographer David LaChappelle, members of Pearl Jam. An avid traveller, Kate was the first female American tattoo artist to travel and work solo in Europe (in 1979). She continues to enjoy Guest Artist status in many shops globally and is invited to high profile conventions around the world, including the London Tattoo Convention, Amsterdam, Brussels, Berlin, Philadelphia, and the National Tattoo Convention. Kate has been honored as a recipient of the Bob Shaw Award by the NTA for her 40+ year career.
Kate is known as the Stencil Queen for having resurrected acetate tattoo stencils from the garbage heap to the last known tattoo collectable, recognized pieces of tattoo art and history, enabling many who had built their careers using this method to now sell these stencils to collectors and enthusiasts world wide.
Kate is regarded as one of the “101 Most Influential Persons in Tattoo History.”