Interview with Great Tattooist – Lionel

Posted by Disha Singh on April 4, 2008

Lionel at work
(Lionel at Work)
Please welcome the great tattoo artist from France – LIONEL. As you cannot hold sand in your hand similarly the free tattoo artist cannot be seen tied in the chains of a tattoo studio. He keeps touring and you can find his availability list on his website. His tattoos are his reflection, making him taller than all other tattooists. His tattoos will surely bring a smile on your face as well as they will take you back to your childhood.

For me his tattoos rejuvenate the child heart lurking inside me. Let’s see what fuels the fire in him to bring out such cute masterpieces on the canvas of skin, through this interview with him.

Disha Singh: Let’s start with your first rendezvous with the art. When did it started and how?
Lionel: Hi, since the beginning and as far as I do remember, my mom brought us to see any kind of exhibitions… we were living in a poor and very industrial city but there were lots of exhibitions with free admittance and my mom always tried to make our eyes wide opened! Thanx to her! The same with music. Even if our parents were strict, we had access to art! We could draw at home and I was a very quiet boy. I could spend hours alone just playing alone and dreaming… a little bit like now!ahahahaah!
Arm tattoo by lionel at paris
(A complete tattoo one of Lionel’s Paris Client)

Disha: Your tattoos are like a trademark for you, which are not like regular tribal or Biomech tattoos. Under what category do your tattoos fall for you and how do you get the idea of a design?
Lionel: Well I think I do something very near the person. I don’t impose anything, I just try to talk and discover the universe of the person. On through his/her belief I try to tell the story of this person on a positive way! Tattoo were forbidden in our culture, so it meant it was very interesting to my eyes when I was younger, but culturally I always preferred art history, illustration books for kids than bikers designs! My tattoos try to reflect the soul of the people who ask me a design…

Disha: What fuels the fire within you to keep going on and on? What sense of fulfillment do you get after inking a design?

When I finish my work I discover the result which is not mine anymore! I work for someone, not really for me! It is lots of concentration, taking care on every details, then when it’s finished the design has being done by me but it is not mine anymore! I need a few days before rediscovering the tattoo I have on the picture I took… it is strange, and hard to explain because skin is an alive canvas!

Skateboard designed by tattooist Lionel and his four children

(A Skateboard designed by Lionel and his four children)

Disha: Who are your main inspirations?

Lionel: My four children, my wife, the sun, the clouds, the landscape, nature, love stories, sky, books, exhibitions and a few painters artists like Cy Twombly, Georg Baselitz and Andy Goldsworthy and Thibault de Reimpré, art printings, people…

Disha: Could you please share any good or bad or some funny experience/request, you’ve encountered for a tattoo?

Mmmh… not really! Maybe one! One old man came to me one day and wanted me to put a microscopic electronic system in the ear of his dog. So that he could follow his dog if he would be lost with a military satellite system!

Lionel and his two children

(Lionel with his two children)
Disha: How have things changed regarding your inking over the years? How far would you like to take your body art?

Lionel: I am lucky. Everybody was spitting on my back for 8-9 years because my tattoos were not traditional enough and now I travel a lot, have wonderful customers and I can express myself more than in the past! People get tattooed on a younger age, their culture is changing of course and now you have lots of tattooists that specialize in one style. Then you can travel to discover the good inker!

Disha: Why do we see Lionel mostly traveling and can someone see him fixed at one stop. If yes, where? Lionel: I had a shop (OUT OF STEP, the enemy of the sun) but I felt depressed by staying in this place everyday! Before tattooing I was a professional guitarist in a punk band and I was on tour for 11 years… Then becoming the owner of a shop made really depressed… I tried two times to run my own shop but after six months I had to do the guest somewhere else!

It permits me also to have more time at home with my family and taking care of them much more. That’s also why it takes so long to answer to everybody!

Very cute Foot Tattoo by Lionel

Disha: Who would Lionel have been if he was not a tattoo artist?

Lionel: I was a professional musician in a punk band called PORTOBELLO BONES for eleven years. I was also organising tours in Europe for my band and some others… So I really think I would work in the music scene as music is a large part of my life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Disha: For our readers information please tell us how much does a piece cost?

It costs the price a customer want to spend. He has to think it is for life, he doesn’t buy a pair of shoe when he has an appointment with me. We talk and then I decide if I’m tattooing him with his budget.

Tattooist Lionel house

(Lionel’s House)

Disha: In addition, who is Lionel apart from a being a tattoo artist?

Lionel: A normal guy who lives and dreams in the west of France, who loves life and who would love to visit India for sure!

Disha: Finally, what suggestions do you have for the newbies in the industry and especially to those who want get tattooed?

Lionel: Please take your time. Ask, watch, think, use your head and have fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Leg tattoo by Lionel

Thank you so much Lionel for sparing your valuable time from your busy schedule. 

Don’t forget to check out few more tattoos by Lionel at our Image Gallery.