If we had to name the most important, talented and influential tattooists in the history of tattoo, Filip Leu certainly is one of them. But talking about Filip Leu and his influence is talking about the Leu Family, some of the most contributed people to the tattoo community .
The Leu are a family of artists and tattooists who have been traveling around the world as bohemians , hippies , nomads but especially as a united family. The first signs of artistic talent of the Leu can be found in Filip ‘s grandmother, the artist Eva Aeppli, who also married the painter and sculptor Jean Tinguely. But the real influence was his father Felix Leu, who with his wife Loretta Leu instilled a very special philosophy of life to their children.
Filip Leu was born in Paris in 1967. His parents were a couple of tattoo artists who loved to travel further. Filip and his brothers, Ajja, Ama and Aia, accompanied them on their travels around Africa, Europe, India and Nepal. Soon they also shared his passion for the tattoo, Filip actually got his first tattoo with only nine years old. The study was the family business, so help cleaning the material, mounting needles or drawing designs were normal tasks in its infancy. Filip learned the technique of tattoing from the hands of his parents, he began tattooing some friends and at age 15 already tattooed officially. When he was 17, his father Felix thought he had already taught him everything he knew about the art of tattooing, so he sent his son to take a trip around the world to improve his technique and learn from other tattooists hands in order to create his own and unique style. After passing through Bombay, Bankok, Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan and Tokyo, this great tour ended in San Francisco, where his father had gotten a job as an apprentice with Ed Hardy. He spent some time in the U.S., where he could work and learn alongside other tattooists as Bill Salmon, Dan Thome and Paul Rogers.
Knowing his early beginning and his excellent learning, it was easy to guess that Filip would become a prodigy child in tattoo. His interest in the Japanese style led him to understand the human body as a large canvas, which made him design infinite body suits and be one of the pioneers in the use of large needles. As he said, in the tattoo, as in the painting, a larger canvas needs a bigger brush to cover more ground in less time.
The Leu Family works on the tattoo studio “The Leu Family’s – Family Iron“, in Switzerland. We had the pleasure to meet them in some conventions, such as in London, and still knowing his remarkable story, we were surprised to discover how friendly and hospitable they are . And we all tattoo lovers should feel grateful for the legacy that the Leu family has left us.