Virus, a tattooist at Ethno Tattoo shop, Lausanne—Jean-Pierre Viret, by his real name—is easygoing and relaxed. He and his pal, Sailor Bit, were the main reason that this small city by Lake Leman saw an international convention as early as 1995, at a time when there were very few of those events worldwide.
Members of a motorcycle club called ‘Jumpers’ wanted to organize a small event around tattoos, but the only guy tattooing in the club was Bit. Virus recalls that, “we were a bunch of friends and everybody was helping. It was a good way to gain some money for the motoclub, really. Most people who were getting tattoos were bikers...So we thought we would have about 300 people for our first edition in 1995. But we had 3500 visitors! It was really weird, a lot of families came with strollers.”
Questioned on how the technology and techniques of tattooing have changed, Virus says old guys have never changed between then and now. “It’s only the youngsters who use rotary machines. It’s easier to use; you just have to put the needles in and that’s it. With a coil machine, you have to learn electricity and everything. They don’t wanna’ learn that anymore. I mean we know how to do everything—colors, needles. We were manufacturing everything by ourselves! The only machines you could have were the ones that Felix would sell to you.”
Find Sebastien Repond’s full report from the Lausanne Tattoo Convention in TTTism Issue 2, available for purchase online and at retailers worldwide.