The Academy Awards were introduced in 1929 to honor each year the best of the best in the world of motion pictures. Then in 1958, the Gramophone Awards (Grammys) highlighted the musical talents of popular singers and songwriters. Now it’s time to glorify tattoo artists the world over, with the First Annual Chaudesaigues Award, to be awarded in February 2012!


With a name like this one, this project might sound a little megalomaniac, but it couldn’t be further from the truth because the concept is as unique as it’s meaningful for the tattoo industry. Consider this: for the first time, a professional tattoo artist will be recognized at the international level for his body of work. In other words, this won’t be the customary “Best Prize” awarded at most tattoo conventions, where the focus is more on the collector than on the artist. This time, the honors will go to the artist and his or her achievements.


The Chaudesaigues Award is the result of two long years of planning and preparation, requiring the utmost dedication from its creator, world-renowned veteran French tattoo artist, Stéphane Chaudesaigues. Stéphane was recently featured in the first issue of the French edition of Inked magazine, in a new series aptly titled ‘Icons’.


It’s therefore fitting that this award would be named after its creator, but the roots of this designation actually run much deeper. Without sounding too sappy, lets just say that lately, Stéphane has been feeling a need to reconnect with his family’s history in order to better bear the name of a father who decided to leave his son behind without leaving an address. Exploring his family tree led Stéphane through the past and all the way back to the 14th Century. Along the way, he found out that back in the 19th Century, his ancestor, Eusèbe Joseph Adolphe Chaudesaigues, established a scholarship at the Paris Fine Arts School. It was awarded to deserving upcoming architects, giving them a two-year scholarship to study in Italy. The list of beneficiaries reads like a who’s who of French architecture of that time. It included René Binet, designer the famous Printemps de la Mode department store building on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris, a vibrant example of Belle Époque architecture.


So it’s no surprise if the trophy for the Chaudesaigues Award is a throwback to that magical era: made of bronze, marble and gold, the Heart of Daisies was designed by Stéphane and cast by sculptor Jean-Baptiste Martin. This Heart of Daisies is an obvious nod to a classic tattoo motif but also embodies a love story, according to Stéphane. This Heart of Daisies “tells about the love that unites two brothers, about the love of a father for his children, about the love of a man for his tattoo trade”. With the Chaudesaigues, from father to nephew and from brother to daughter, tattooing is truly a family affair.


Paying homage to a great family saga and keeping up with a tradition dating back to Eusèbe Joseph Adolphe, the recipient of the first Chaudesaigues Award will win a one-week trip for two in the heart of Paris. Why a trip for two? Because as Stéphane often says, “there’s always a great woman behind every tattoo artist”. They will get to stay in a charming hotel, only a stone-throw away from Notre Dame, in the Quartier Latin, a favorite hangout for many writers of the Beat Generation. They will also enjoy full access to all of the city’s museums. In addition, the winner of the Chaudesaigues Award will get a three-day, one-on-one seminar with one of the project’s partners and a free booth at the Best Of The Midwest tattoo convention in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on February 10,11 and 12, 2012. Stéphane chose to premiere the Chaudesaigues Award in America because it’s where his career really took off back in 1995, when the National Tattoo Association presented him with its Artist Of The Year Award.


The star-studded jury for the Chaudesaigues Award will be comprised of Shane O’Neill, Nikko Hurtado, Boris Zalaszam and Andréa Afferni. Needless to say that Inked can’t wait to find out who will bag the award and will be very excited to lay eyes on the work this artist will have produced. There’s no doubt that the winner will make an indelible mark on tattooing history. If the Chaudesaigues Award aims to first and foremost celebrate an artist and his work, the prize also strives to serve the collective history and the heritage of tattooing. This award also aims to link several generations of tattoo artists: from the pioneers to the great names of tattoo history, and all of the people whose relentless efforts over the past decades have contributed to making our favorite art what it is today. Let’s not forget to honor the present and the future of tatooing with the vibrant young generation of artists and even with the beginners. “More than a prize to aim for, the Chaudesaigues Award is an effort to form an international union, a brotherhood of tattooing,” says Stéphane. “It’s here to symbolize that tattooing is a boundless universe”.

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