And on his arm runs the Par natural hot spring …
Stéphane Chaudesaigues isn’t the tough guy that preconceived ideas would lead many to believe. On the contrary he’s a soft-spoken, kind-hearted gentleman.
The tattoo artist has never forgotten that he was once a little boy who found out that somewhere in France, a village bore his name.
The blood that courses through his veins is that of his ancestors from Caldaguès.
And on his arm is the famous Par natural hot spring, inked on his skin for eternity.
A renowned tattoo artist, Stéphane Chaudesaigues is coming back home.
Coming with him is this ambitious project about hosting an International Gathering of Tattooing in his homeland in July of 2013.
But behind this project is a tattooed man who recalls finding out as a young boy that his name came from a little village of the same name.
“I was seven years old and my biological father had abandoned me. I had been adopted by a nice family, but I was the only one with the last name of Chaudesaigues. And then one day, I saw a report on the news about the hottest spring in Europe, in a village bearing my name. I was convinced that they were talking about me, and with the imagination of a young boy, I was able to locate the village on a map. Now I finally knew where I was coming from; I had found a new father in this village.” The little boy grew up, sometimes having a hard time bearing this last name, the name of a father who had left him behind and to whom he couldn’t give his love. “So I ended up giving my love to the village,” says Stéphane.
Things didn’t go too well in school for Stéphane. “It was all noise to me and I couldn’t make out a thing,” he says. But tattooing? Now that’s another thing altogether! Stéphane got his first ink at 11. “My brother, Patrick, a tattoo artist himself, told me that our dad had a chimera tattoo. I asked him for a tattoo but he refused, so I took matters into my own hands and tattooed myself. I inked the letter P for ‘Papa’, thinking of that father I missed so much.” Would this missing father have a role in his son’s life as a grown man? “Certainly. In many ways I became the man I am because of him. I completely own who I am.”
A father himself by the time he was 18, Stéphane had to fend for himself early on and opened his first tattoo shop. “I came into this business armed only with a passion for art and art history. I had studied the classical masters and their techniques, and I think that my experience allowed me to approach tattooing from a different angle, giving my work a more personal touch.” It helped me in breaking down some of the preconceived ideas people were having about tattooing. For some, tattoos equaled having served time in prison, while others only viewed them as the sign of having been in the army or navy.”
“I was fortunate enough to do good things with my life and turn a bad situation into a good one. My children have a father and an anchor in their life.” After much work, the Graphicaderme business became a franchise. “I put a lot of myself into this adventure; lots of time and energy.”
Speaking of energy, Stéphane also puts a lot of effort in living life to the fullest. “I am still searching for my father, but as times passes, I am somehow grateful for what he’s done to me. I recently hired a genealogist to document my family tree and I found out that my ancestors had all lived in Paris from 1779. Starting the family tree is Etienne Chaudesaigues, born in 1755. I asked the genealogist to look into a possible Chaudes-Aigues connection.” As it turns out, Etienne was born in Fridefont, in the Chaudes-Aigues count. His grandson ended up being the distinguished Eusèbe Chaudesaigues, Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur and founder of the original Chaudesaigues Award at the school of Fine Arts in Paris. Stéphane and his brother Patrick connected all the dots as they created their own Chaudesaigues Award, a prize to recognize tattooing excellence. The award was presented earlier this year during the Best Of The Midwest tattoo convention in the United States.
Today Stéphane wants to literally get back to his roots, and did so when he bought Dr. Pierre Raynal’s old house in Chaudes-Aigues.