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Meet Manu Farrarons of Mana’o Tattoo Los Angeles in Studio City

Today we’d like to introduce you to Manu Farrarons.

Manu, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up on the islands of Tahiti in French Polynesia. I was immersed in the Polynesian culture at an early age.

At home, I was surrounded by the arts as my mother, a school teacher, was always painting in her spare time, and my father was a tattoo artist, a painter and a sculptor. I first started tattooing in Tahiti using the hand poke technique when I was 15 years old. But I had to pursue my education. So I graduated with a Bachelor in History and Geography and became a school teacher.

In 1991, I split my time between teaching and helping my father in his tattoo shop. He, along with his co-workers taught me the art of tattooing.

My passion for Polynesian design pushed me to learn more about this form of art and traditions, so I went to the Bishop Museum in Hawaii to collect all the documentation, anthropological resources and research about the Polynesian tattoo symbols from Tahiti and the Marquesas islands that were missing in my country.

I studied and learned a lot about the ancestral practices and symbology with the purpose of creating legitimate and authentic Polynesian tattoos.

In 2003 I decided to quit teaching and to take over my father’s tattoo shop when he wanted to retire.

I started to work daily on developing my own original tattoo styles. I am known to be the original creator of the feminine and delicate Polynesian flow for women and other now worldwide trending modern Polynesian styles.

I am considered as one of the main catalyst of the Tahitian tattoo revival in French Polynesia which slowly started in the 80’s, after being forbidden for more than a hundred years under the pressure of the Christian missionaries.

The past 15 years, I traveled the world a lot and won numerous prizes and recognitions in International tattoo conventions (USA, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Japan and France).

Opportunities led me to meet Roni Zulu who was the owner of the well known Zulu Tattoo in West Hollywood. Because of the growing demand for authentic Polynesian tattoo in LA, he offered me a permanent position in his studio and he sponsored my artist visa to be able to come work at his studio.

In early 2015, I had the honor of becoming a cultural Ambassador of the airline Air Tahiti Nui, of which I continue to proudly represent.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
In my opinion, nothing comes easy in life or in a career. It’s all about hard work, passion and dedication. The good thing is that I found a way to make a living from my passion, which is a luxury!

I don’t feel I am “working” because every day is a new pleasant experience to me. I am very grateful for that and it was not easy to make the move from being a teacher to this artist lifestyle I am living since then.

Moving to America in 2015 was also another challenge! The immigration process was very long and patience was the key. Thanks to all the international prizes I won and all the recommendation letters I collected from the biggest in the American tattoo industry who supported me, I was able to secure my visa.

Then settling in LA was another challenge: to understand the city, its people and its vibe, it took me around a couple of years for this.

That was a big change, coming from a tiny tropical island to this huge active and crazy city! But I love the vibe here, people are great and the city has so much to offer culturally.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Mana’o Tattoo Los Angeles – what should we know?
In February 2018, I opened my own studio, Mana’o Tattoo LA on Ventura blvd in Studio City. I offer my style of Polynesian tattoo and I am happy with the immediate success I’ve encountered.

I built the studio with the vision of welcoming my clients in a cozy, homey and private place where they can feel relaxed and at ease. Everyone loves the studio, they always say, “Wow it’s a cool place!” when they step in for the first time.

I am proud to have been able to open my own workplace after only two years in Los Angeles. It was very challenging; I haven’t slept much during the few months of preparation. I am not a poker gambler but I went all-in in my project, investing all my savings and keeping faith in it.

I am obviously well known for my work quality and my knowledge regarding Polynesian symbols and patterns. A lot of clients from LA went to Tahiti once in their life, they loved the culture and the country but they didn’t have the chance to get a tattoo there. So now, a lot are naturally coming to me to remedy that.

A Polynesian tattoo is always unique, created for its wearer only. My work is 100% freehand, that means I create and draw the design directly on the body, step by step, with the collaboration of my client. Once the design is approved, then I start to tattoo it. There are no pre-made designs I can use. My job is to place with grace, artistry and harmony, all the traditional symbols representing the meanings my clients want to have in the tattoo.

I feel I am like a cultural link between Tahiti and California, and even for the rest of the world!

I am very grateful to have a big percentage of clients flying from other states and also from many other countries to get tattooed by me. Last year in LA, I tattooed people who flew especially from Germany, Switzerland, France, Denmark, Sweden, England, Spain, Costa Rica, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Africa and even from Tahiti!

Many have to wait a long time to get an appointment because I am always fully booked many months in advance.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Oh wow, there are many things that can be put in the bag tagged, “success!”

I don’t know the exact recipe because for me I don’t see success as the ultimate goal in life. Happiness is more something I would put above success.

But I’ll try to make the list short and keep the main aspects.

I would say the most important thing is to have knowledge regarding what you do. Knowledge is everything. You can’t do something genuinely if you don’t know what exactly you are doing.

Then, respect and gratitude in all fields. Respect for people, respect for your clients, respect for the culture I am coming from and the respect for America which has welcomed me so well.

I keep focused on maintaining a consistent level of quality in my work and I work on evolving everyday with new ideas because I think it’s also very important to keep evolving.

Also, I always try to do my best in everything I do, especially when I create a tattoo. People like to say I am a perfectionist, and I think that’s been instrumental in my success as well.

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Image Credit:
Mana’o Tattoo Los Angeles

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