She named her Swiss studio after one of her eight cats, and in the company of her husband Volodim, she is ready to offer you mastery and a desire to amaze.
Angélique, I read in your bio that you have 8 cats, a dog, a lizard and rabbits. Shall we update the family tree?
Yes there’s an update but unfortunately not in a good way, we lost our lizard a few months ago – he was 12 years old (sighs). We have also had fish for years because my husband is a real fish lover. We will soon have a big fish tank in the garden with koï carps and I can’t wait! We don’t have children, but it feels like we do because I consider them as my extended family.
Was it just the animals (cats in particular) that made you decide to favor the Realistic style in your tattoos or did your studies also contribute?
I never made artistic studies. I made English studies then I worked in Clinics and Hospitals, then I learnt by myself how to draw watching tutorials on You Tube every evening, and I became a tattoo artist to be really concise.
I started making the Realistic style because that was for me the most difficult style in tattoo and I really wanted to experiment the hardest and push my limits.
Do you remember when all of this started?
I once made a realistic kitten when I was an apprentice and that was a revelation. I remember me taking a break, looking at my half done kitten and thinking «Wow, that’s not bad!». I found my way that day. It just took me some time to be able to select only what I really wanted to do and that’s the best luck I have today. But in a way, you are right, cats made me realize I wanted to make Animal Realistic tattoos.
I imagine that to achieve such “photographic perfection” (including shading and contrasts) the making of each of your tattoos is really long and laborious. Especially when it comes to cats which are mysterious beings and full of details by nature. Do you confirm?
Yeah. What I prefer in the world is tattooing cats, particularly Maine Coons. I have two Maine Coons at home, and I find immense joy in observing them; they are truly magnificent creatures. What fascinates me the most is working on the long, difficult fur patterns, a task that might be considered boring by other tattoo artists. Personally, I find it incredibly interesting.
What is your relationship with your clientele?
Recently, I showed some available projects with Maine Coons wearing hats, and I was so happy that several customers placed their trust in me to create these designs. I tattoo at least one cat every week! (smiles) What truly brings me immense satisfaction is watching my customers’ reactions at the end of the process. Many of them prefer not to watch during the tattoo, only to be surprised at the end.
Most of the time, their reactions are deeply emotional, often leading to tears and I cry with them.
Tell me specifically about ‘Leto Tattoo Studio’, the place of work you created together with your husband Volodim Grimm in Porrentruy?
Yes my husband and I created everything hand in hand. We have been together for 15 years and are in the tattoo industry since 10 years. We are both very ambitious; we always wanted to expand while keeping the human aspect at the forefront. We had long envisioned opening a large shop, but first, we needed to work on our social media presence to be strategically better known and increase our chances.
We indeed opened ‘Leto Tattoo Studio’ (IG: @leto_tattoo_studio) in Porrentruy, in the Swiss Jura, a year ago. Porrentruy is a very small town in a region where there isn’t much, but we love it so much that we wanted to take the chance. Then we thought, if it works here, it will work anywhere else! (smiles)
Okay, but why that name ‘Leto’?
Leto is the name of one of our eight cats. Two of them have only one eye due to a disease they had when they were kittens. One of them is named Minos, and I recently got him tattooed, and the other is Leto.
She is the smallest of our cats, with a strong character and at the same time she is exceptionally kind. We felt that the name was ideal for our studio.
What do you think about guest spots? You host a lot of them in your studio, don’t you?
Indeed, we have quite a few guest artists in our shop! We are delighted to host over a hundred tattoo artists from all over Europe. The first year was a testing period, a time to meet all the artists, and we are so pleased with the guest team we have formed. Most of them come back regularly, and we are always happy to welcome them back. The shop team itself has also expanded.
Do you want to name the artists who work with you and your husband?
From the beginning, we hired our manager Flo, who is extremely efficient – she manages the schedules of over 100 tattoo artists and never makes a mistake! Lyvia joined us in January as a tattoo artist. Melanie has recently joined as an apprentice tattoo artist, and we have Elodie who has become our second manager. One of our Polish guests, Jacek, will also become a resident artist next year and we have space for 10 tattoo artists at the same time in our shop. We are very proud of this success and are considering opening a second shop in Switzerland.
And your last famous words are…?
Never rest on your laurels, always strive to improve. However, and this is the hardest part for me to apply, enjoy the present moment and be content with what you have while remaining ambitious. It’s challenging but achievable!