Madame Lazonga Celebrates 50 Years of Tattooing
Madame Vyvyn Lazonga began her career in 1972 at the Seattle Tattoo Emporium. She approached founder Danny Danzl and asked him to take a chance on her. At the time, very few women worked in the tattoo industry. The apprenticeship with Danny extended into a lifelong, world-renowned career spanning 50 years and counting.
Fun Fact: The Seattle Tattoo Emporium’s original location on 1st Avenue is two blocks from Vyvyn’s current Pike Place Market studio on 1512 Western Avenue.
Inspired by a movie character released in the same year as the parlor’s opening, Madame Lazonga is a pioneer of her trade. She is one of the very few women tattoo artists who worked in the industry during the 70s and 80s earning her the nickname, Seattle’s First Lady of Tattoo.
Danny Danzl had the shop’s windows hand-painted with “World’s Youngest Female Tattoo Artist” and “World’s Most Beautifully Tattooed Woman” – a nod to accolades she received at national tattoo conventions in the 70s.
Throughout her career, Vyvyn built cherished connections with fellow titans of the industry.
Collaborating with Don Ed Hardy, he crafted the three elegant phoenixes that adorn her back and crown over her shoulder, among other pieces.
Fiery and bright as Vyvyn’s iconic red hair, they represent the transformations over the course of her life and lessons learned along the way.
Her client work has similarly evolved to specialize in transformations of scar cover-ups. While appreciative and honoring of all canvases, Vyvyn has forged a particular mastery for tattooing those who have survived breast cancer and its effects post-mastectomy.
See more of Vyvyn’s work on her Instagram.
Being able to hold witness to the emotional transformation that occurs in these women has been a strongly fulfilling aspect in her body of work. Vyvyn notes the capability of tattooing as a spiritual experience to find and express meaning, comparing her work as an artist to that of a healer.