A third-generation artist and second-generation tattooer, Filip Leu was born in Paris in 1967. He’s the son of Felix and Loretta Leu aka Don Feliz and Y Maria, and grandson of artist Eva Aeppli, Jean Tinguely’s first wife.
His parents were artists, bohemians, hippies and also enthusiastic travelers. This meant that Filip and his 3 siblings, Ama, Aia and Ajja, grew up in Europe, North Africa, India and Nepal. Felix and Loretta began tattooing in 1978 in Goa, India and Filip started to learn the craft from them when he was 11.
Together with his parents he created “The Leu Family’s Family Iron Studio and Museum” in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1982. He began tattooing full-time there; he was 15.
At 17 Filip undertook a world tour visiting and gathering more knowledge from tattooers in India, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and the U.S.A, completing it with a year’s stay at Ed Hardy’s Realistic Tattoo Studio and a 3-week visit with Paul Rogers in Florida where he learned much about tattoo machine construction.
In 2000 Filip opened “The Leu Family’s Family Iron Street Shop” in Lausanne.
In 2001 he co-founded the Art Fusion Experiment, a group presenting tattoo artists as fine artists. Together with his wife Titine Leu, Paul Booth, Guy Aitchison and other artists he has created collaborative painting events before a public in places such as the Palazzo Ducale, Genova, the National Arts Club, N.Y.C. and Alex Grey’s Microcosm Gallery, N.Y.C.
Filip has also worked on collaborative tattoos, a similar concept, with Paul Booth, Tin-Tin, Guy Aitchison, Bill Salmon, Claus Furhmann, Shige, and other artists.
Filip was always struck by the beauty and power of Japanese body suits. First through photographs in books and then from his first visit to Japan on the bodies of the people he met there. This admiration and study of Japanese tattoo art was expanded over time to art from his own imagination. As early as 1994 he did a series of 100 original life-size charcoal drawings of back pieces and body suits.
As can be seen in his work today he continues to explore and further this interest, although he doesn’t limit himself to Japanese-inspired designs only and is known for a variety of artistic innovations.
Because of his preference for doing large pieces, Filip is one of the pioneers in the use of larger needle configurations. He finds that, similar to painting, larger canvases require larger brushes. This means that he can cover more space in less time. Also it makes for simpler and bolder work, one of the things he feels that gives their power to traditional Japanese as well as other style body suits.
He tattoos and paints in Switzerland where he lives with his wife Titine, who is a painter, and the rest of his family.
You can see more of Filip Leu’s work at: http://www.leufamilyiron.com/