INK EVOLUTION: The young generation of tattoo artists making its mark on Switzerland
Following up on our article on the pioneers who shaped the world of tattooing before the internet age, we now portray the new generation of tattoo artists who continue to make Switzerland a trend-setter in this field.
At the last 'Mondial du Tatouage' world tattoo convention, which was held in Paris in 2015, Filip Leu, member of the jury and considered to be one of the best tattoo artists in the world, said: "There is some truly beautiful work here. I am really happy that my profession has reached such a high level in quality of design and attention to detail."
Switzerland has seen a boom in tattoo studios in the last few years (from 15 in 1980 to more than 1,000 in 2015), perhaps because it is home to many different art schools and certainly because it is the birthplace of tattoo legends like Filip Leu.
With this new generation of tattoo artists, many of whom are art school graduates, new movements have flourished (graphic tattoos, water colour tattoos, etc.) and the art form has developed with the growing popularity of tattooing that has come with, among other things, the social networks, media, TV reality shows and opinion leaders.
The numerous tattoo conventions that have taken place in Switzerland, e.g. Montreux, Geneva, Zurich and Lugano, reflect the success of this unique popular art form, as well as the talent of Swiss tattoo artists.
Kim-Anh Nguyen, Seven Seas Tattoo, Eindhoven, Netherlands
After finishing commercial school in Geneva, Kim-Anh changed career and travelled in Europe to be tattooed by artists who inspired her and who she admired. Following a brief spell in a tattoo studio in Geneva, she moved to London where she completely immersed herself in this art form, developing her own style, and creating mainly neo-traditional tattoos. Currently, she works in Eindhoven with her partner, fellow tattoo artist Jeroen Francken.
Marc Mussler, Sacred Yantra, Lausanne, Switzerland
Native of Lausanne and ECAL graduate Marc Mussler cofounded the graphic-design collective '16 Pounds' in 2008, and the magazine 'Diary16'. At the time he worked exclusively as an illustrator, concentrating on design. Fascinated by tattoo artists such as Xed, Tomas Tomas, Rinzing, Jondix and Thomas Hooper, he developed a growing interest in this craft and became a student of Rinzing in 2010. Since then he no longer wants to be part of a particular movement or style but is intensively working on the technique of dotwork and geometric design, areas in which he excels.
Flame, Sacred Yantra, Lausanne, Switzerland
Flame trained at the schools of applied arts in Vevey and La Chaux-de-Fonds, and then worked for several years as a graphic designer in agencies. His growing interest in illustration, design and subversive culture made tattooing an obvious choice of work. He decided to focus completely on tattooing and became one of Rinzing's students in 2010. Flame's style is difficult if not impossible to define given its many different aspects. Adept at blackwork, dotwork, geometry and Japanese design, this talented artist shows great respect for tradition in his work.
Johann Morel, Steel Workshop, Murten, Switzerland
In 2010, Johann Morel did his apprenticeship with Sandy Domont at Phoenix Tattoo in Neuchâtel. Fascinated by the old school traditional American milieu, skateboarding and hardcore music, he draws inspiration from nature and art nouveau. This rising star joined the Steelworkshop studio in Murten in 2013.
Patch and Violaine, Happypets, Lausanne, Switzerland
Tutors at ECAL, the graphic designers and illustrators Patch and Violaine are the founders of the Happypets graphics studio. Inspired by their peers and fascinated by hand drawing, graphic design and illustration, this young couple from Lausanne started tattooing in 2009. Their speciality is working together à quatre mains – Violaine does the outlining while Patch fills in the spaces and adds the shadowing. They specialise in black tattoos, with figurative designs on themes of natural history, mysticism, skulls and animals.
Tattoo by Jo, Le parloir, Lausanne, Switzerland
Trained in graphic design and taught by Yann Black in Montreal, Tattoo by Jo learned 'freehand', a technique that consists of drawing the designs directly on the skin before inking them with a machine. On his return to Switzerland, Tattoo by Jo continued his training and worked for three years with the Happypets before opening his own studio, 'Le parloir'. Although his influences are old school and black work, he uses different techniques, including dotwork and engraving.
Jean-Luc Python, Python Tattoo, Romont, Switzerland
Jean-Luc Python's interest in tattooing grew out of his fascination for design. Working in this field since 2008, he is strongly influenced by Filip Leu, who tattooed his entire back. He specialises in neo-Japanese style with a preference for the large motifs and designs from this country.
David Mottier, Noir Tattoo, Fribourg, Switzerland
David Mottier is one of the rising stars of the 'nouvelle garde'. A graphic designer by training, he did his first tattoo at the age of 30 and became known through his 'flash' tattooing and on social media. He is currently training with his mentor Fredz. Influenced by the old school American tradition and by everything to do with decorative motifs and objects, he draws his inspiration from Swiss folkloric art and nature.
This list is far from exhaustive. Feel free to recommend other Swiss talented tattoo artists in the comments.