On February 26, Hollywood will be aflutter for the Academy Awards, but two weeks earlier, in the country’s heartland, In Council Bluffs, Iowa, the first-ever Chaudesaigues Award could be on its way to becoming tattooing’s counterpart to the movie industry’s most coveted golden statue. Behind this international event is Stéphane Chaudesaigues, a 44 year-old french tattoo artist who reached out to 15 tattoo publications for support and promotion, from Paris to Philadelphia.

For the Versailles-born, the story really began in the South of France in 1987. “I opened my shop, Art Tattoo, Place de la Pignotte in Avignon. Tattooing was still suffering from a negative image at the time. We used to feed on the rocks that people would throw at us,” laughs Stéphane. “But times have changed and minds have evolved since these early days; tattoing is now more accepted as an art form,” says the artist who specializes in realistic portraiture and has been lauded by l’Express magazine as one of the best tattoo artists on the scene.

Stéphane earned a solid reputation in the States, where he wowed crowds and jurys alike at a multitude of tattoo conventions he attended in the early 90s. Twenty years on, he founded the Chaudesaigues Award as a prestigious contest for pro tattoo artists. “We accepted 60 entries from the U.S., Mexico, England, Finland, Bulgaria and France. Each contestant sent 10 photos representing their best work and we posted in on”

A jury of tattoo icons was gathered, including among others, American tattooists Shane O’Neill and Nikko Hurtado. On February 11th, 2012, the contest winner will receive a bronze and gold sculpture during the Best of the Midwest tattoo convention in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Dubbed the Heart of Daisies, the regal trophy is a nod to the Belle Époque architectural and artistic style.

“Thanks to extensive media coverage from 15 different magazines throughout the world, this prize is likely to become a carreer boost for any artist to win it,” says this self-made entrepeneur who’s still very attached to his city of Avignon, where his son runs the Graphicaderme tattoo studio, rue Thiers.

The second Chaudesaigues Award is already in its planning stages for 2013 and the venue could be Florence, Italy or Budapest, Hungary.


  Fabien Bonnieux


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