Tagged: travel

Felix & Loretta Leu: Berber Tattooing in Morocco’s Middle Atlas

Crafted by Felix and Loretta Leu, Berber Tattooing in Morocco’s Middle Atlas is a tremendous account and celebration of the lives of the Berber tribe’s female tattooers in Morocco. Brought to life with illustrations by Aia Leu and edited by Joanna Kate Grant, the book opens up a new and fascinating unseen world of the Berber tattoo traditions…

1.Berber Tattooing cover

Berber Tattooing is a unique and tender record of the tribal skin art of Morocco’s Middle Atlas and the female tattooers who created it. Felix and Loretta Leu’s road trip in 1988 consisted of a series of chance encounters. Each one of which opened a doorway into the intimate world of the women of the Berber tribes.

In this book, the women tell their individual stories, revealing the traditions of the tattoo in their culture, together with insights into the lives that they led.

Sensitively captured in drawings from the time, by Aia Leu, the faces of the Berber women speak of a tribal culture that was fast disappearing, even then. As tattoo artists themselves, Felix and Loretta were able to find a common ground with the Berber families, gaining unprecedented access into this sparsely documented Berber art form.

This book of previously unpublished work, collected nearly thirty years ago is a tribute, to the art of tattoo, to tradition, to family and to love.

7.Hajah pencil on paper 32 x 2 4cm Aia Leu 1989

Hajah pencil on paper, 32 x 24 cm, Aia Leu 1989.


Loretta being hand tattooed by Fatima using the technique taught her by her mother.

2.Loretta Leu with tattooist Aicha Bent Hamadi in 1988

Loretta Leu with tattooist Aicha Bent Hamadi in 1988

About the authors:

Felix & Loretta Leu, both born in 1945, were artists, “freaks”, and adventurers. From 1965, when they met in New York City, until 1978, they travelled and lived in America, Europe, North Africa, India and Nepal, and in time were accompanied by four children, who were all born on the road. In 1978 they discovered tattooing as an art form, one with which they could support their family anywhere in the world. In 1981 they chose to settle in Switzerland where they created The Leu Family’s Family Iron Tattoo Studio. Felix died of cancer in 2002. Loretta, lives in Switzerland, walks in fields and forests with her two dogs, and is writing a history of her life with Felix.

Swiss artist Aia Leu was born in 1971, the daughter of Felix and Loretta and the granddaughter of Eva Aeppli, she was born in an old finca on the little Island of Formentera (Baleares). She lives with her family in the mountains of Kenmare, Ireland. Aia is currently working on a series of oil paintings for a two-woman exhibition planned with Titine K-Leu, and also illustrating a 78 oracle deck inspired by ‘Thoth Journey’ a book by JoannaKate Grant.

8.Aia Leu and Loretta Leu

Aia Leu and Loretta Leu, 2017

Tattoo The World: Nick Romi

We chat to 21-year-old film director and editor, Nick Romi who is based in LA and Osaka, Japan about his vlog Tattoo the World, his tattoo collection and his love for adventure…

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What drew you to the world of tattoos? Ever since I was young I’ve always loved metal and punk music. Every singer or band I’ve ever looked up to or listened to has tattoos. It’s something that’s been planted in my mind from a young age. I identify with the punk and metal culture, and I always have. I guess part of that identification involves self expression and freedom, two things that mean a lot to me.

What inspired you to create a vlog series about tattoos? How did it come about? I’m always traveling around the world filming. I’ve done all kinds of stuff from documentaries, commercials, television mini-series, music videos, live events, etc. Whenever I travel somewhere new I try to get a tattoo as well. I want to get something done in all of the countries I visit. I’m not really the person or type that would start a YouTube vlog. At least I never thought I was the type. But a part of me felt I should document these tattoo sessions and shops I go to around the world. So I started filming my tattoo sessions and then talking about them in vlog form. Vlogs are very different from the line of work I do in film. It’s refreshing to be able to sit in front of the camera and just talk about the things I love.


What message or values do you want to share? I want to share with people the excitement and sense of adventure in doing something different from everyone else. I think a lot of people have dreams and visions of what they really want to do but they never follow through. There is so much untapped greatness and uniqueness in everyone. We all have such an incredible story to tell. I tell my stories through my vlog and films that I make career wise. That’s my book. I want to hear other people’s stories. If my videos can inspire people to do what they love and share their adventures in life, then that’s the best reward.

What can people expect to see on the channel? What sorts of things do you film and feature? People can expect to see so many things! As I said before the vlog follows me around the world on all of my adventures. In past episodes, I’ve been to India, Japan and Taiwan. I talk in depth about my experiences and try to relate them back to tattoo artists and shops in the United States. People can always expect something unique in each episode. Not every episode is about a certain country either. There are also episodes that will cover keeping your tattoos clean, what tattoos I have, what future tattoos I plan on getting, where my favorite shops and artists are, etc. I want people to grow with me and see all of the tattoos that I will be getting as the series goes on. We also have tattoo features at the end of each episode. If a fan or tattoo artist, or shop wants to showcase their work, they can submit photos to us via email or social media and we will feature them at the end of each episode! It’s our fun way of trying to make Tattoo the World a community thing.

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Nick and his girlfriend Yu Kitamura

What have you learned since beginning filming? What has surprised you the most? Something I learned from starting this vlog was not everyone is going to like you. Obviously I am not a tattoo expert, but I try to do the best research I can and educate myself. Some people get defensive or almost offended by what I say. I speak for myself on the vlog but as it is with many things these days, there’s always someone you’re going to offend. I learned not to take it personally and just continue on with the vlog as it is. You’re going to get flack and crap from people in life regardless of what you do, so it’s important to keep your head up and stay true to yourself.

Something that constantly surprises me is the amount of positive feedback and interest I get from the series. I didn’t think anyone would be interested in watching it, but I’ve grown a few followers. It’s a great feeling when someone finds entertainment in your craft.

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What is your most meaningful tattoo? My most meaningful tattoo is my shovel tattoo. The idea of this is from the singer of Boston hardcore band Vanna, Davey Muise. His inspirational message is to “find your shovel” and dig yourself out of any problem or situation or negativity in your life. For Davey his shovel was music and being in a band. My shovel is film and being a director and editor. I carry this tattoo with me on my skin in ink, everywhere forever, as well as in my heart.

We’re official sponsors of Nick and his blogs, so head to Tattoo The World see more!

Gypsy East Desert Erotica Photo Shoot

In the depths of the Rajasthani desert, the Gypsies created magic… 

Check out the Gypsy East ASOS for your own magical treasure that the gypsies discovered on their travels 





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Art direction & styling – The Gypsy East Collective
Model – Emily-Louise McGuinness
Photographer – Alexandre Fantie-James
Shoot assistant – Harry Newbould


Ashley Riot & Cristina Gogo Blackwater

Our Italian contributor Ilaria chatted to travelling tattoo artist Ashley Riot and artist Cristina Gogo Blackwater. The couple share their work, relationship and hopes for the future in this intimate interview… 

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 photo: Carlo Carletti | editing: Claudia Cosentino

How would you introduce your other half to our readers?
Cris: Ashley is an undeniably talented tattoo artist and painter with deep, intelligent eyes and a kind soul. He is gentle but fearless, patient but constantly curious, handsome and brave. He’s also really sweet while having a certain kind of dark side about him, a particular combination of pluses and minuses that makes us similar, and that I believe brought us (and keeps us) together. He’s my space captain, my everything.

Ash: My own personal muse. An equally beautiful and intelligent woman with her head and heart in the right place. Cristina’s curiosity and quest for knowledge and adventure are on par with my own. My soul mate. She’s a jack of all trades, easily picking up new hobbies and making rad new things. Most people would say, “oh, she’s that babe on the cover of all those tattoo magazines.” They aren’t wrong, but there’s many more layers of awesome tucked away in this one.

Traveling is part of your lives, is it a stimulus that enriches you, or a taxing, tiresome experience?
It can be both enriching and exhausting, but the highs are much higher than the lows. There is this famous Bill Murray quote that goes something along the lines of  “if you think you met The One, don’t just date and get married. Buy a plane ticket and travel the world, in places that are hard to go to and get out of. If you’re still in love when you come back, then you know you found the one” and I couldn’t agree more. I am seeing the world with the one I love. I am sharing every memory, every moment. I’m an only child so being alone was always a big part of my life. Now we can be alone together, and grow up together.

Ash: My wife crushed it. I can’t say how many excellent humans we’ve met already in our travels and how many more we look forward to meeting.

Cris&Ashley (3) (1)

 photo: Carlo Carletti | editing: Claudia Cosentino

Is your work your only passion, or do you have any future projects?
Cris: The great thing about making a living as an independent artist, is that every hobby and every passion can be a part of your work. Certainly this is much less secure than having a regular pay check, and is sometimes a risk, but I don’t live to make money as an ultimate and absolute goal, because it’s not money itself that was ever my passion. Each year my favorite part of my job is different. Right now, I am completely enamored with my hand embroideries of tattoo flash designs. Very few things make me happier than creating something with my hands.

Ash: Work definitely keeps us both busy. There’s always ideas brewing in the back of my head but very often, after drawing designs for tattoos and making those tattoos, I’m shot. It’s a very demanding craft both physically and mentally.

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Tattoo by Ashley

Is there a correlation between tattoos and sentiment?
Cris: I would say so.  I don’t think that the subject of a tattoo necessarily has to signify something sentimentally relevant, in fact I have very few tattoos like that. I prefer to get inspired by a vague idea of something I like, and then bring it to a particular tattooer and let them interpret it in their own way. At the same time, the more time goes by the more each tattoo reminds me of a particular moment in time.

Ash: Certainly each tattoo contains sentimental value; I don’t have names, dates, or memorial tattoos on myself, but each tattoo most definitely has a memory attached to it. I can look at each of my tattoos and reminisce on numerous situations, cities and friends. I can see times of sadness, madness, and most importantly happiness that have sculpted me into the human that I am today.

Cris&Ashley (1)

photo: Carlo Carletti | editing: Claudia Cosentino

To which of your (and his/hers) tattoos are you most attached to?
Cris:  I am most attached to the ones that I got out of love and friendship. As far as Ashley’s tattoos, I am extremely fond of the ones on his torso. Perhaps because I’m not very tall so my gaze often falls on that area, or maybe it’s because it makes me think of our closest moments.

Ash: I think on myself I have too many good ones to have a personal favourite. I could say which I hate my most, but I’ll hold my tongue! Cristina has a bunch of really nice tattoos. I would say that the ones I did are my favourites.

Does your life together follow a specific style, or philosophy?
Cris: I guess because of how we look and what we do, we could easily fit the stylistic profile of others who live similar lives as us, but I tend to focus on the core of things, and in my head the only philosophy that matters is very simple: to experience everything, regret nothing, and to be decent, respectful people. To never intentionally hurt anyone, nor each other, nor ourselves. To love each other, and have fun together, and mostly never take anything too seriously. It’s always a work in progress of course, but to me, that’s really ALL there is to it.

Ash: She definitely speaks for both of us on this one.

Embroideries by Cristina (2) (1)

Embroidery by Cris 

What does “forever” mean to you?
Cris: I can’t really grasp the concept of forever as an absolute, it’s just too much to wrap my head around. I can have a very vague scientific understanding of it, but that’s sort of irrelevant, in a way. In my very limited, relative to my life kind of way, I like to be a little bit of a romantic and think that love is forever.

Ash: F-O-R-E-V-E-R? I think it’s the outside edge of our mental capacity to understand such a massive span of time. I feel like it’s easier to think of it in a narcissistic way; as the span of time from birth to inevitably becoming worm food. This tiny window of time which holds every memory and interaction that will ever exist is your personal forever.

Ashley Works (8)Tattoo by Ashley

Personally, I believe that everything that is made by hand (be it a tattoo, or an embroidery), captures the energy of its artist. Do you think this is possible?
Cris: I think it’s absolutely possible. Perhaps I’m overly optimistic and positive about it, but to me, even when the work in question appears to be rushed and meaningless, a little bit of the soul of who made it is inevitably embedded in it.

Ash: I try my best to live up to that philosophy. Sometimes there’s only so much of yourself that you can put into someone else’s dream about their tattoo. After all, it is their tattoo. I’m mostly certainly up for this challenge each and every time.

Have you ever tattooed each other? If so, what was it?
Cris: I have a few tattoos that he did on me by now, and I love them all so much!  And I scribbled on his leg once, a few years ago: it’s horrible of course, but it’s a great memory of our first trip together.

Ash: I can happily say that I lost count. I really like to test myself when I tattoo Cristina.

Embroideries by Cristina (1)Embroidery by Cris

Mindful Wanderlust – The vegan travel diary

Our guest blogger is Giselle the creator of Mindful Wanderlust a travel blog about tattoos and following a vegan lifestyle. This is the first of many posts to appear on th-ink, telling of her and her husband Cody’s travelling tales.


 My name is Giselle, and I am a tattoo and travel addict. And an extreme animal lover.

I started travelling at the tender age of five, caravanning with my father and other family members to places like the Maritimes, Orlando Florida, Boston Massachusetts, and several different camp grounds throughout Canada.

When I was twelve my mom took me to Cuba; and by the time I was twenty, I had been to England, Venezuela, Peru, Egypt, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Kenya, Mauritius, and Madagascar.

For me, the road is life.

I was fifteen when I received my first tattoo. It is now resting under a better thought out piece of work. When I first started getting tattooed, every piece had to mean something to me. Like so much in my life, that has changed. I view tattooing as an art form. It helps many people through difficult times, and that is a wonderful thing, but it can also be fun and spontaneous, which can then turn into a piece of meaning.

Prior to our nomadic lifestyle, I was quite happy tending bar at home, and doing make-up on the side, but the road was calling. I have always been pretty unconventional in thought, and so the next step was to live unconventionally.

Two and a half years ago, my husband Cody and I set off on an incredible round the world adventure. We saved our pennies, sold a lot of our belongings, put the rest in storage, started up a little website, and off we went.

Egypt, India, Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Bhutan, Indonesia, England.

We loved Thailand so much that we ended up staying for eighteen months. Cody and I spent seven out of the eighteen months at Elephant Nature Park, an elephant sanctuary in the jungles of Northern Thailand. not only did we work with elephants, but several dogs as well. It was magic.

We can’t get enough of the lifestyle.

We are now in Saskatchewan, Canada visiting friends and family, and getting tattooed. This September we are heading to Cuba for the 9th time; and in January we are travelling to Japan for two weeks, and then back to Thailand for thirty days.

We have been tattooed in Nepal, Thailand, and of course Canada, and I look forward to getting something done by Ichibay when we are in Japan.

Our plans always involve travel, tattoos, and animals; and to us, that is our kind of freedom and happiness.

There’s no telling when or if we’ll ever get tired of gallivanting around the world, but either way, we’ll be covered in memories.

 Follow their  journey on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and of course their Blog!

The World on my Shoulders Tattoo

Bill Passman quit his job as a lawyer, sold all his possessions and got his first passport all at the age of 51. Having travelled to over 70 countries and all 7 continents he decided to document his journey with a tattoo.

I realized that if I was going to do that it would have to be a tattoo of the entire World including the specific countries. I also knew that I would like to color in each of the countries that I had travelled to.

Bill Passman


Read about his continuing adventures on his blog