A landscape of craggy peaks and labyrinthine lines, the gorgeous contrast of tones settles on the skin like the face of a mountain, scratching into the sky with all the might and power of the ethereal dark arts. Tattoo artists Patch and Violène, also known as Happypets Ink, are a couple, collaborating on intricately illustrated pieces permeated with the shadows of esotericism. Surrounded by galleries, museums, and historical landmarks, their tattoo shop,, Happypets’ Studio, sit in Lausanne, Switzerland. It is a place Patch and Violène are happy to say is open for many visiting artists and tattoo collectors.
Can you each introduce yourselves, and talk a bit about your artistic background? How did you both meet?
We are Patch and Violène, owners of the Happypets’ Studio based in Lausanne Switzerland. We have been tattooing for about 10 years as a duo and a couple. We met during our studies at the Ecal University of Art and Design, where we studied graphic design; we were in a class together. Our approach to design was always very illustrative and hand made and we have always considered ourselves as image makers and illustrators, using pen and pencil as our main tool even for type design. We became interested in tattoos when we first started getting tattooed, and were very quickly fascinated and fell in love with this ancient craft full of rich visual history, identity and meaning. We decided we really wanted to tattoo and, as with everything else we do, we decided to do it together, meaning two tattooers collaborating on the same piece.
How does your collaborative process work? What was the mission behind opening your own shop?
We always discuss and design the project together, then Violène does the line work and Patch the shading. The tattoo shop came about little by little, gradually taking over the design studio we had opened directly after our studies. Tattoos were taking bigger slots in our timetable until it became our main preoccupation and the computers were put in retirement. We had one person join us and then another and a bit of coming and going to finally have the «happy» team we are now composed of; 3 other tattooers, 1 apprentice, as well as the two of us, and of course, the many guests that we have the privilege to meet and that come regularly to tattoo at the shop. As the space was getting a bit small we were able to take the neighboring apartment and expand the surface. Things came about very slowly and naturally following their own rhythm.
Who are your artistic heroes, tattooists or not? Are there any films, books, visuals, that inspire you?
We have a lot of inspirational sources and they are quite well heralded by the many objects, posters, skulls and naturalized animals decorating the walls of the shop. It ranges from botanical, animal to religious, pagan and mythical, and definitely spiritual. It is difficult to point the finger at one book or visual; there are so many.
Can you talk about the tattoo community in Switzerland? What is it like being heavily tattooed there? What is the fine art scene like?
We are lucky to evolve in a country or community where people are quite open minded about tattoos and heavily tattooed people. It is the hometown of the Leu family so I guess people have been seeing a lot of beautiful work for a long time.
Many tattooists, I think, have a specific idea, mission, or philosophy behind their work. What would you say yours is? Any future plans?
We care about the human aspect in tattooing, the relationships you build, the people you meet; we are very lucky to have really wonderful clients. We hope that our work may communicate a certain poetry and spirituality and wish them to have a positive impact in whatever way on the people who have chosen to wear them. We are always humbled to be given the trust, and someones body, to work on. There is a very holistic aspect to tattooing which, for us, is important. Our future projects or philosophy, leave more space and time to do nothing: do less but better. Back to basics: raw nature, true souls, sacred stories.