It may not be polite to stare, but don’t bother trying to hide your curiosity around Léa Vendetta. The Boynton Beach-based painter and nationally renowned tattooist doesn’t just live her art, she’s covered in it—from the double-headed tiger on her left arm to the bearded dragon on her ribs to the roses on her right kneecap.
As a self-described walking art installation, she understands people are going to look. Just do Vendetta one favor. Before rushing to judgment, understand that there’s more to her than meets the eye.
“Because I’m a women, I’m aware that some people think tattooed girls are all whores,” says the native of France, who does appointment-only tattoo work at A Stroke of Genius in Boca. “Or that tattoo people are trashy. … [But] I have my iPad and iPhone, I’ve traveled the world, and I enjoy fine dining and fine wine.
“People look at me and may think I just ride motorcycles and drink beer—not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
Trying to stereotype Vendetta, 41, is like trying to interpret the striking, ornate work of Japanese-style tattoo master Henning Jorgenson that covers her upper body. At a certain point, you realize that you’re in the presence of an original.
In the case of Vendetta, that identity took shape as a teenager in the Alsace region of France soon after she discovered The Clash’s “London Calling” in her brother’s vinyl collection. The classic punk album so resonated with Vendetta that she began searching for a similar muse to inspire her burgeoning art career.
She found it in the form of Otto Dix, the German painter known for his dark realism. “His work struck me as so modern, even though it was painted in the 1930s,” Vendetta says. “I remember his portrait of a tattooed lady from a circus sideshow. I’d never seen anything like it in my life; full body tattoos—so beautiful.
“Everything began from there…”
To read more, pick up a copy of our September/October issue.