In 1978 Felix Leu started his tattooing career at “Jocks Tattoo Studio” in Kings Cross, London, England. Felix went on to recall that it was after a chance meeting with two guys in Yugoslavia, who for some reason or another thought that he was a tattoo artist and offered him money to tattoo them. Felix phoned the only tattoo artist he knew of, Jock, and he asked if he would teach him. Jock agreed and Felix set off for London with the whole of the Leu family in a van, arriving at Jock’s place a few days later.
After having completed his apprenticeship with Jock and buying a rotary iron from him, he moved with his family to Goa in India to get good at it. He tattooed over two years in Goa, then for six months in Bombay. Then, in Bombay in 1981, the respected Indian tattoo authority and tattooer Tattoo Jangoo, who is also in the daytime till five pm “the very venerable psychiatrist Dr. Jangoo Kohiyar” (shades of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) gave him a photocopy of Dr. John Lemes III’s Tattoo: “Trade Secrets“. This pamphlet really taught Loretta and Felix the technical knowledge of the modern tattooing as we know it today.
The artistic tradition started in the Leu Family with Eva Aeppli (Felix Leu’s mother), who married Jean Tinguely. Swiss artists, they were part of the avant-garde modern art movement in Paris in the 1950’s and 1960’s and friends with artists such as Daniel Spoerri, Yves Klein and Niki de Saint-Phalle. Miriam Tinguely is their daughter.
In 1965 Jean Tinguely made a tour of exhibitions on the East Coast of America, his step-son Felix Leu was his technical assistant, at a show in New York he met Loretta Buscaglia. As fellow artists and as a couple they went on to travel the world and raise a family of four children Filip, Ama, Aia and Ajja. Their first child, Filip Leu was born in Paris in 1967.
Felix and Loretta had taken up tattooing during their travels and at an early age Filip was taught the technique. They founded the Leu Family’s Family Iron Tattoo Studio and Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1982. Filip Leu is a tattooer and painter, famous for his artistic spontaneity and blending of surrealism and psychedelia. He is a co-originator of the Art Fusion Experiment with his wife Titine K-Leu a fine artist known for her paintings of iconic tattooed people and sensual female forms.
Felix Leu aka “Don Feliz” died of cancer in 2002. Loretta Leu aka “Y Maria” continues to paint and work on a book on Felix, their life together and the Leu family’s Family Iron.