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Lea Vendetta Gets Payback: Interview with a Rock Star Artist

By Dawn Dubriel

Lea Vendetta is feeling hotter than a Buster Poindexter video. I met Lea at an arts festival at Old School Square in Delray Beach. She was doing a live painting and some of her originals were also on display. Magnetically drawn to her work, I politely struck up a conversation with the focused artist. Down to earth and friendly, she speaks perfect English with an exquisite French accent. When I asked her how she painted the transparent blouse in her painting, A tes Amours #1, she gestured in a painting motion and replied “going over and over with different paints… many layers ~ a lot of work.” For anyone who speaks with her, it is apparent she is a dedicated, hard worker. It has paid off. Lea currently lives in Las Vegas and is an extremely successful tattoo artist. Almost fully covered in tattoos herself, and alluringly attractive with fire-engine red hair, she has graced the covers of many tattoo art magazines, not only for her beauty but for her work. She recently returned to sunny, south Florida for several tattoo conventions, and shared a break with thalo for a tête-à-tête. We wanted to hear the whole story.

thalo: In Paris as a youth, you and some friends happened upon a painting of the naked tattooed lady. What was the name of the painter who inspired you? What did it evoke in you?

Lea Vendetta: The name of the painting is Suleika, the tattooed wonder. The painter is Otto Dix (1920). At the time, I was studying Art History. We learned about all art movements from the Grotte de Lascaux (France’s prehistoric cave paintings) to Modern Art. We went to so many museums and learned about so many styles, techniques, and painters. They were all so amazing in their own ways. However, I could never relate to any of it, until I discovered Otto Dix and the New Objectivity movement. Seeing his work literally changed my life, like if somebody switched a light, and suddenly I could see! I finally found a painter that emotionally reached me, and made me feel and think. That’s when I realized and understood the importance of Art. 

I grew up listening to metal, I also loved the dark romanticism of “the Cure”, and Punk Rock was in the air, so the beautiful dark works of Otto Dix kind of visually mirrored my sonic taste of the time… if that makes sense. I feel if Otto Dix were alive now, he would have been a punk rocker! (laughs) I loved his style of painting, his political involvements, and the emotional reactions his paintings created.

Nowadays, there are so many contemporary artists that I love. It almost seems like the art world is so much richer in art now than before. Or, maybe it’s just the internet that allows everyone’s work to be seen internationally.

I also fell in love with the classic works of Tamara De Lempicka. Her work was just beautiful; I loved her Art Deco style. I looked up to her. I hoped I’d be like her one day.

th: It’s pretty clear you’ve succeeded in realizing all of your dreams and styles! Back to that day when you first saw the Suleika, the tattooed wonder, you made the decision to follow your dreams. How empowering! What were your next steps?

LV: Once I decided, everything became clear on what needed to be done for me to get to the next steps. The next steps demanded lots of work, drive and perseverance.

th: Your paintings are so creative and brilliant. What formal training did you have, or are you self-taught? 

LV: Thank you! I learned a couple of basic techniques in Art School.
I think that for the most part, I am self-taught. What has helped me, I think is, I am aware of many styles and technique of paintings that I studied for many years. 

So even though I never had a real formal professional training, I can visualize what type of result I want to achieve on my paintings.

th: What inspires you?

LV: Everything and anything that moves me.

th: What kind of paints do you use and recommend? 

LV: Golden liquids for acrylics. For oils, I use different brands; good name brands usually seem to make a pretty big difference in quality.

th: Which galleries have your paintings been exhibited in Paris, NYC, and FL?

LV: Palm Beach galleries, Lost Weekend in Miami, the New York Tattoo and Art festival, Cannibal flower show in LA, quite a few but that’s all I can think of right now.

th: How has your rise to fame started and progressed until now? 

LV: It went from magazines, to television, to social media. 

th: What is a typical day in the life for you? 

LV: A race against the watch! 

th: What advice would you give to artists who want to follow their dreams and focus solely on their art?

LV: Whatever your dreams are, always keep working hard at it and it will eventually pay off.

th: What are you currently working on? 

LV: I currently tattoo at “Hart and Huntington Tattoo Co” at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas. I’ve also been working on different projects that I will announce really soon.

th: How does it feel to be so incredibly talented, gifted, sought after, original, and beautiful?

LV: (laughs) I don’t know about all that but thank you! And yes, I’m in a good place right now. I love what I do and I’m about to venture into some new opportunities, which I can’t talk about at the moment but I promise to reveal in our next interview!

All photos courtesy of Lea Vendetta

To see Lea Vendetta tell her story, check out this awesome film, by Billy Ward:

To contact Lea Vendetta for a commission, or to see more of her work, visit:

Twitter: @LeaVendetta
Instagram: @LeaVendetta