Filip Leu from The Leu Family’s Iron Tattoo Studio
Among the most celebrated names in the contemporary world of tattooing stands Filip Leu. Born in Paris, 1967, Leu is the eldest son of Felix Leu (Don Feliz) and his wife Loretta (Y Maria), both prevalent names in the field. The second-generation tattoo-artist is also the grandson of Swiss artists Eva Aeppli and Jean Tinguely, who were prominent members of the avant-garde art movement. Naturally, this means Leu was exposed to the art, and specifically tattooing from a very young age.
Felix and Loretta were travelling artists who explored art in different parts of the world together and eventually took up tattoo as a means of living. The Leu family being a non-conformist, free-thinking type, the couple involved Filip and the other children in their work from childhood. Growing up in such an extraordinary, artistic household, Leu did not have the conventional perspective of tattoos being indecent and taboo drilled in his head. Quite so in fact, that Leu received his first tattoo from his father at the mere age of 10.
Considered a prodigy in the tattoo business, Leu initially helped his father by drawing grid prints of tattoo designs, and by age 12, he had the learned how to handle the needle. At 15, Leu started working alongside his father as a full-time tattoo artist, and soon after, along with his parents, went on to find The Leu Family’s Family Iron Tattoo Studio & Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. A truly gifted artist, Leu became internationally recognized as one of the world’s best tattoo-artists by the time he had turned 18.
By the time Leu was out of his teens, his work had started to appear in tattoo magazines across the USA. His talent was immediately recognized and made him an instant star. There came a point where you could not go through a tattoo magazine without coming across one of Filip Leu’s creations, or someone who had copied his designs. Most artists would totally have a fit the moment they noticed such unaccredited replication of their work, but Leu thinks of it as inspiration, rather than theft or plagiarism.
One of the finest artists of the era, Leu’s creativity is recognized in the ultimate by his self-created sub-genre of Japanese tattooing, known as the Euro-Style Japanese. The work Leu brought forward under this genre was unmatched by anything the tattoo world had ever see. The style is best described as a blend of surrealism and psychedelia, which is almost impossible to imitate.
Leu led the development of this style along with Mick Tattoo, Luke Atkinson, Lal Hardy, and many other notable artists. This genre has been a game changer and influenced its ancestor so significantly that the Euro-Style Japanese has found a home in every tattoo parlor practicing Japanese tattoo, including those in Japan. The new Japanese artists are now also trained in this new style.
Filip Leu born and raised among an environment of art, ink, and blood, has turned into an inspiration for thousands, and taken the tattoo industry to new heights. His work and art themselves are an honor for the field. The man changed perceptions regarding tattoo-artists and made it possible for people to consider it as a serious career option. Currently, Leu resides in Switzerland with his wife Titine, also an artist, and family, and paints, tattoos, and further explores his creativity.