There are those who are shining examples of how Hart & Huntington approaches the artistry of tattooing, then there are those who embody the tattoo culture, living it personally in beautiful and inspiring ways. Lea is both.
Not only is she a legendary artist at the shop, she models her own tattoos, honoring the works of many great artists and demonstrating the craft of tattooing across the industry.
Leave it to a girl from Paris to take tattooing to fashionable heights.
I was raised in Paris, France and didn’t come to the U.S. until I was 21. I loved Rock ’n’ Roll and jumped at the chance to move where it was really big.
You might say that Rock was the gateway to tattooing for Lea, because it was such a big part of the culture.
I grew up listening to all kind of Rock, like heavy metal, hard rock, punk rock, alternative rock and new wave. Most of the bands I listened to and loved had tattoos.
Although Rock dialed it up for Lea, art was a part of her life much earlier than that.
“I loved art since I was a little kid and I had a big imagination.”
I was drawing since I was little and my passion grew from there. In France, there’s Art and Culture everywhere, which stimulated my imagination as a kid, and I begun drawing everything I saw and experienced and my passion grew from there.
Interestingly, her early days as an artist were spent drawing tattoos.
Even when I was young, I was drawing a lot of things that looked like tattoo designs, probably inspired mostly from the music and bands I loved.
So you might say, it was a pretty natural fit for Lea to find her way to a tattoo shop. She began in a non-traditional way. Her friend owned a shop in Florida, where, she would sell her paintings. They sold well, and he suggested she give tattooing a try.
As a french girl with a thick accent fresh off the boat, the idea of becoming a tattoo artist never crossed my mind as I was the opposite of the tattoo artist stereotype at the time, that was 1996. Once my friend suggested I give it a try, it felt like it made sense to me as a tattooed artist fascinated by tattooing…and as soon as I picked up a machine and started, it felt like everything flowed.
She loved the social aspect most.
I loved that it’s social. When you paint, you're alone with your canvas. When you tattoo you hang out with like-minded people and you get to make them happy. I work with really awesome clients and we share these moments together—coming up with cool designs together and they leave really happy. I love the whole experience of it.
Her career also led her to a season on Ink Master.
After owning my own successful shop for almost 10 years, I decided to travel the U.S and the world to further my career in Tattooing and Arts by meeting, exchanging and learning from other tattoo artists. Along the way, I've worked many US conventions, guest spotted in many world famous Tattoo Shops all over the U.S, and got a call to be part of a new show called Inkmaster, where I managed to stay in 8 of the 11 episodes of season 1, and where I won the black and grey realistic competition.
Then, thankfully for us, she moved to Vegas, where she works at Hart & Huntington creating beautiful pieces in just about any style you can dream up. Her favorites are Japanese, traditional and black and grey but she can do it all.
Hart and Huntington is a world famous shop where world famous artists gravitate to and that is the shop and context I was looking to be part of when I moved to Vegas. The high level of daily learning and exchange with the residents artists in this shop stimulates and helps me to keep growing as an artist which I love and is vital for me.
One of her tattoo life lessons:
We are here to make the client’s vision happen and make them happy. Our job is to be able to deliver a great lasting tattoo no matter what. It’s not about the tattoo artist, it’s about making someone happy.
One of her sources of inspiration is getting tattoos herself.
When I started, I decided I’d just get tattoos from the best people and learn from it. I’d be inspired every time and apply their little tricks to my work. And, I got to wear some really cool tattoos so it’s a win win.
You can see her pieces in many industry magazines as she models (and makes it on the cover) for a bunch of them.
Being pretty heavily tattooed, magazine photographers would take my photo during tattoo conventions and many of those photos ended up on covers, and in magazines. This exposure brought interest from Famous Art, and Fashion photographers with who I worked with later on. I love doing modeling work, I feel it’s another way to express myself.
And let’s add one more highlight to her resume, her new fragrance line.
Being born in France, known as the capital of fashion, perfumes, etc…I naturally breathe and love all those things and I finally got the chance to create it. It took me a really long time to come up with the perfect scent. I wanted the fragrance to be complex, interesting, unique and of course really sexy. I believe we nailed it! ..and I feel we managed to create a high-end scent with an affordable price point for our clients. We have one for men that is more of a fresh woodsy scent, and one for women that is sweet and spicy. I wear both and I love them both so much!
The name of the perfume couldn’t be more perfect.
The fragrance represents a lifestyle. In the tattoo community, we all get tattooed for different reasons, but I feel there is one thing we have in common and it’s that we go for it. We don’t double guess ourselves, we just go for it. If we feel the need to get a tattoo, we get it. We have a life and we live it.
“Life is Now” is a quote I have written on my hand that I feel represent that philosophy.
Perfect note to end on.