Appearing on Spike TV’s “Ink Master” was only the tip of the iceberg of the successful career of painter, tattoo artist, and model Lea Vendetta. The SoFlo ink slinger of Parisian origin has been fully emerged in the tattoo culture since the age of 18, when she decided that venturing into the tattoo scene and getting tatted was more important to her than the bourgeois modeling scene of those times. When Lea first ventured into modeling, tattooed ladies—well, actually, the tattoo lifestyle—was taboo. Oh, how the tables have turned. Now as an in-demand model, full-time ink slinger—at Ink and Pistons Tattoo in West Palm Beach, FL—and a celebrated painter, Ms. Vendetta is living proof that the tattoo culture is seeing better days.
INK SLINGERS: Can you talk a bit about what influences your creative style as both a tattoo artist and a painter?
Lea Vendetta: My references are everything and anything that catches my attention. I know what I love and I am sensitive to, and that influences me in my creativity and the direction I take in my art and tattooing. My main influence is painter Otto Dix and his “The Tattooed Wonder” painting of 1920. I was 14 when I discovered him and his painting, and it changed my life.
How do you believe your approach to tattooing (and art in general) fits with the format of the show?
I’m really versatile and because of the wide range of style covered in the competition, they were looking for accomplished tattooists that could master any style.
Coming from an artist background, do you play a major role in designing the tattoo pieces in your own collection, or do you allow yourself to relinquish creative control to your artist?
When I’m looking to get a new piece, I think of who do I know that specializes in the style and design that I’m looking for, and then I give them complete freedom in the realization of the piece. I do not want to be in the way of their vision; that’s how I believe I’ll get the best work.
Where would you rank your modeling career among your list of passions? Is modeling another way for you to express yourself as an artist?
Yes, definitely. I am a tattoo artist, but I am also a collector and I like to use my body to create as well. One of my life’s missions is to use my artistic expression to awaken the world to the beauty of tattooing, so I actually just came out with a 2013 Lea Vendetta calendar that I shot with famous photographer Robert Alvarado. It is available on my website (leaslounge.com) for $30 (includes S+H). It is a beautiful 11″x17″ piece of art that, as an artist, I’m really proud of. I’ve been really successful with it since it’s launching, and I have been shipping in the US as well as worldwide. If you order it from my website, I can personalize it and sign it.
How can people who want to get ink work from Lea Vendetta reach out to you?
All the information about me—where I’ll be, making appointments, bio, merchandise, and blog—on my website. I can also be reached at: 516-600-5008. I am on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: “Lea Vendetta.” I am based in South Florida and work in West Palm Beach at Ink And Pistons.