• About A Girl: Claire Laffut

    A few months ago, we discovered the Tumblr of a then-unknown-to-us Belgian artist living in Paris named Claire Laffut. Mesmerized by her artwork, we exchanged emails with Claire for months and followed her work on her website and on Instagram — learning in the process about how the 20-year-old artist and model took her talent and spun it into a self-started business, both in doing large-scale murals and branding for businesses and also starting her own line of temporary tattoos called LACLAIRE. This month, she visited the U.S. for the first time for a job, and on a rainy New York fall morning, we wandered with her around the West Village to find out if there's anything this talented self-starter can't do. 
    Photos by Stef Mitchell

    Where did you grow up?

    I grew up in a small Belgian village — it was remote, with farms, all that. I decided to go to the "big city," Brussels, when I was 16, living on my own. I started like that, with no money from my parents and just wanting to work. 

    Had you always been drawing? 

    When I was a child I started a lot of different classes — dance, theatre, piano, and drawing. Every day I had a different class at my Belgian academy. When I was about 15 my father said, "Okay, you have to choose something." And I actually took to dance and went to a dance school, but I was always still working on art during my classes. Anytime I had a break, drawing.

    How did you first come up with the idea to make a line of tattoos and explore that as an art form?

    Last year, my friend wanted a tattoo. It was his first one and he wanted it to be really big. And he said, "I'd like to try it out before I do it but I don't know how." So I found this paper and we tried it out. And then he got it for real — a tattoo of my drawing. 

    So I started doing it more, and when I would go to parties I'd put big tattoos all over myself, and my friends would be like, "What? What did you do!? When did you get those?" And I'd just say, "Oh…yesterday? Went a little crazy…" [Laughs]

    No big deal, just a full neck tattoo.

    Right! Everyone kept saying, "I want the same!" And it became this thing that, if you had an idea for a tattoo in your mind that you wanted to test, it's good to do it this way first. You can put them in different places, play with different designs. 

    So that gave you the idea to start selling them?

    Yes, I put it together as a collection. The first one is called the Classic Collection, but it's really a collection of cliche tattoos: you have a skull, roses, swallows…I did all of the designs and started the packaging. And it was born! Now I've started on the second one.

    What have you been doing in addition to art?

    I model, but my goal is not to be a model. I think it's great, you can meet a lot of cool people and I really respect the industry. It's always cool to be paid to take good pictures! But I think I need another creative outlet. 

    Do you see a connection between the worlds of modeling and art? 

    Modeling and arts fit together, you can put a face on the work, sometimes it's better and sometimes it's not. Sometimes when I shoot for jobs I want to start art directing — "Can you do this like this instead? What about if we did this?"...and I need to stop doing that! You are there to do a job! But I can't help but think about everything…wouldn't it be better another way? I can't help but have a take on it.

    Follow Claire's work and see more of her art and tattoo series on Tumblr and Instagram
    Follow her photography blog here