“Shanghai Kate” Hellenbrand is in a unique situation of having begun tattooing in 1971 when women in the field were largely unknown. Her career is the longest of any American female tattoo artist, earning her the title “America’s Tattoo Godmother.” Kate worked with the master’s of modern American Tattooing – from Sailor Jerry Collins of Hawaii, Ed Hardy, Jack Rudy, Michael Malone, Paul Rogers and Huck Spaulding — and penetrated the membrane between the four-color, military payday tattoo climate of the early 1970s to present time with all of tattooing’s current technological and artistic innovations. She has been called one of the “101 Most Influential Persons in Tattoo History.” She is also known as “The Stencil Queen” … after resurrecting common acetate tattoo stencils from the trash piles of the past to wall-hanging artifacts and collectibles of today
Kate 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.
Kate has appeared on the Today Show, Prime Time Access, numerous documentaries on the Travel Channel, Discovery Channel and TBS. In 1972 she co-produced the contemporary section of the Museum of American Folk Art’s “Tattoo!” exhibition in New York City,
Her award-winning work has appeared in all major tattoo magazines, she is a writer for Tattoo Planet, Skin and Ink and International Tattoo Art magazine. She has lectured before MENSA, the Rotary Club, many civic organizations, and was a featured panelist at the International Women’s Leadership Conference at Columbia University.
Kate was the first female American tattoo artist to travel and work solo in Europe (for the year of 1979). She is invited to high profile conventions around the world and regularly can be seen at the Mad Hatters, New York Tattoo Convention, National Tattoo Conventions and others. Kate has been a member of the National Tattoo Association since 1994.