His main style is Realistic but in his heart there is room for more, like his deep love for Sophie, Kiss, Guns N’ Roses. And that crazy meeting with Al Pacino…
Hi Manu, what came first, your love for tattoo art or Kiss?
Kiss, of course! Their music made my whole body vibrate long before the needle made my shoulder vibrate. I think it’s more a question of chronology: all the music you listen to between the age of 15 and 20 years remains for life. And this is true for everyone.
Would it be fair to say that there are strong Hard Rock influences in your artistic style?
Well, the hard rock band that influenced me most remains Guns N’ Roses because in 1987 they released their first album (Appetite for Destruction, ed) and – symbolically speaking – it was the end of the so-called “Eighties LA Glam Rock Wave”.
Everything about me comes from Axl Rose’s tattoos. That’s what made me go to work in Los Angeles when I first started out.
Ozzy Osbourne and Mötley Crüe were also part of it and all these people stay deep in my heart. I always manage to corner them during their concerts. Whether it’s in LA, Zurich or Paris, I’ll be there!
Was the Black ‘n’ Gray Realistic style your artistic strength from the outset or did you get into it more seriously year by year?
That style was immediately obvious to me. Although I like colour a lot but only in Kustom style or New School. You know, colours in Realistic style age so badly and this is crap! I obviously used to do it, but to be honest it seemed wrong to me to sell that type of body painting.
So you quickly changed your mind…
Yeah, I quickly went back to Black ‘n’ Gray. Warning – I’m always talking about this in a Realistic style! My big influences in the beginning were: Brian Everett, Paul Jeffries and Gill Montie with whom I shared a booth at a convention in Los Angeles.
A sort of consecration for me, because Gill tattooed all the Mötley Crüe guys and played in their videoclips too!
The tattoo studio in Chalon-sur-Saône (where you work together with Sophie) bears your name: “Manu Badet Tattoo Studio”. How did you create this sort of alchemy?
Sophie is my wife and that’s not why she works in the shopt! (smiles) It’s because she developed her own talent. When I met her she was doing a lot of oil painting reproductions of a French painter called Georges Laporte. Sophie has always had an artistic soul and she’s a good tattoo artist too.
We really appreciated your Realistic tattoo dedicated to Eric Cantona, the former French footballer and very good actor in the recent “Derapages” TV series. Can you tell me how that accurate and particular work came about?
The Eric Cantona portrait was a client request. I don’t have the same vibe as when I do a portrait of Alice Cooper because Alice remains unique for me! The Cantona character is extremely interesting and above all very charismatic: you could compare his face to a rocker’s. My job remains a technical job and my goal is bringing emotions to life thanks to the images of my wall lamp on the clients. That’s why that tattoo done ten years ago remains deep in my heart.
Last question: tell me about your amazing meeting with Al Pacino. What did he tell you about the Tony Montana Portrait tattoo you made in his honour?
I managed to meet the actor Al Pacino thanks to a client of mine. He invited me to a “Studio Actor”, a masterclass he was doing in Paris a year ago. The weird thing was seeing Al Pacino very flattered and impressed by my tattoo. He was very fresh and his eyes were sparkling at the sight of this tattoo like it was the first time he had seen himself on somebody’s arm. That was a great moment!