L.A.-based tattoo artist Katrina Jackson, aka Kat Tat, shared the sad sentiments felt all over Los Angeles in the wake of Nipsey Hussle's tragic death. So to honor the West Coast rapper, the artist, best known for her role on Black Ink Chicago, decided to offer tattoos inspired by him on Saturday, April 6 — all for $60 each and with the money going to one of his favorite charities. Designs available included a Nipsey Hussle portrait, the black-and-white Victory Lap flag and his slogan “The Marathon Continues.”
Kat, whose father is African-American and mother is Korean and Caucasian, owns her own shop, called Enigma Tattoos. Originally from Chicago, she has been in L.A. since 2016. As the buzz of tattoo guns filled the Beverly Hills space and the line of waiting fans stayed steady outside and inside, Kat talked about tattooing tributes to the beloved hip-hop star and his impact on her, the art world and L.A. in general.
L.A. WEEKLY: Where are the funds from today going?
KAT TAT: The funds are going to the 59th Street Elementary School. [Nipsey] and Puma were doing a lot of work with them. They just donated a lot of money for the basketball courts. We’re going to donate to them and let them decide where it’s best to go, but we know they don’t really have an art program over there. We’re hoping to maybe develop stuff like that, because art does wonders, especially with youth in the community.
How long does each tattoo take?
We were expecting 10 to 15 minutes each for the really small stuff, but we all went a little in. Did a little extra. Thirty minutes to an hour for each one. The line started at 9:45 a.m. We’ve just been going by the book. I’m not as tired as I thought I would be. I know that as soon as we’re done … I can’t look at the clock. As soon as I look at the clock, I might collapse. It’s cool, my energy is up.
What does Nipsey mean to you?
Nipsey means motivation, inspiration and just love. The energy in this shop today is so impactful. For me to have never met him and to have felt — you know when you really, really feel something? I remember when I first moved here, my cousin took me to his businesses. There’s people out here really doing stuff. This is his dispensary, he’s got tons of businesses! It’s inspiring. I thought, “I have a talent, maybe I should open up a business!” He definitely inspired part of this. He’s a huge inspiration to everyone.
The day is such a success. Do you plan on expanding this?
This has to be a thing! Just the turnout and what it meant. I mean, the line has been wrapped around the building all day long! We’re gonna figure out how we can continue this in the upcoming years — [an annual] Nipsey Day.
Being from Chicago, what's it like to see L.A. in this broken state?
With this business, I’m now part of the community. I’ve been here for three years now, and I felt it. It’s one of those things, he was a community man. For me, it’s like, “OK if we’re able to give back to the community in any way, that’s what he would want.” It’s the right thing to do. It was an obligation to us as well — all of us here are part of his city and his community.
Enigma Tattoo, 8760 W. Pico Blvd. Beverly Hills. (424) 522-3808, enigmatattoobevhills.com.
See a full slideshow of Nipsey Hussle Day at Enigma Tattoo here.