Art not only makes the artist happy, the joy and emotions are also shared by people who see it.
It is the reason Pele Loi loves what he does; painting.
Pele is from Aleisa. He works as an artist for Manamea Art Studio, owned by Nikki Mariner and her husband, Lalovai Peseta.
“When I was little; I always liked to try out drawing,” Pele said.
“In primary school; I think my teachers have been noticing my potential in drawing and painting so they always pushed me to do it. It was funny because I remember that whenever we had a special event for Arts in school, the teachers always pass all the artwork to me to do it."
“At the time; painting wasn’t really something I cared so much about. I mean to me; it was just something that I was good at but the feeling changed when I went to college; which is where I met Lalovai who inspired me to love what I’m doing."
“For three years in college I took Visual Arts and not only I have found passion in what I do, I found my idol; Lalovai and from there our friendship begun.”
Pele said that every year he moved on to the next level or class, Art follows him.
“The Visual Arts course was only taught from year 9 to year 11 but when I moved to year 12, the status quo changed and they made this a course for the year 12 level. Same when I moved to year 13.”
He came first (1st) in Visual Arts in year 12 and in year 13; both in the exams and internal assessments.
The 28 year old realized here that this was the dream he wanted to pursue.
But unfortunately, things don’t always go according to plan.
“When I finished college, art suddenly changed from something that I loved to a complication."
“This was a point of my life where what I wanted was different from what my parents wanted for me. While I wanted to go to an Art School; my parents wanted me to continue on with U.P.Y. (University Preparatory Year) at the National University of Samoa but none of that matters because in the end; my parents couldn’t afford to pay for my education."
“Although I earned the required grades to attend university; I couldn’t go because we didn’t have enough. So Art was a dying dream since then.”
Pele moved on with his life and over the years he became more distant from his passion.
He had taken up a Computer Studies course at Nia Mall. After that; he then left for American Samoa.
“For years I’ve never had anything to do with Art anymore and I completely forgot about it."
He added “When I got back from American Samoa; I was responsible for taking care of my grandmother who stayed at Vaitele. She passed away in 2013 and eventhough it was a sad experience for me; I tried my best to find work again and I found a job at Amau; which is where I ran into Lalovai again."
“Lalovai said he has been looking for me on social network but I was never on. When I met with Lalovai; he told me about his business that he was about to start and in that same week; I resigned from work and took up Lalovai’s job offer."
“I felt God pushing me towards this direction and I knew that this was the answer to my heart’s desire.”
In 2015, Pele officially started working for Lalovai Peseta and Nikki Mariner. He was their first artist.
“I was happy and at the same time, I was nervous. I was nervous because seeing Lalovai’s work; I thought it was too advanced; you know these were the things that I’ve never learned about so he told me to work and just observe."
“In 3 months; Lalovai noticed a change, he noticed that I was quick to pick up on everything.”
Fast forward to 2017, Pele is now one of Manamea Art Studio’s trustable and talented artist. He’s done painting, art design as well as carving.
“In my youth, I think I was struggling so much because I couldn’t find my way back to who I really was. I felt like I was stuck in the dark but it’s my friendship with Lalovai and Nikki that changed all that."
“I was able to leave everything out. Most of my time was dedicated to my work and that always kept my mind busy. I had no time for anything else but this is a good thing because I became someone that can support his family with his work. Honestly I am happy to have found my true self again."
“This kind of work makes people happy. Whatever customer we get, their expressions when seeing the work that we do is enough for me to keep going. This will always be a drive and motivation for me to learn and continue on doing art."
"I know there aren’t a lot of people who are aware of Manamea’s work but hopefully one day; they will get to see the work that we do because Art is something amazing and it gives happiness to people.”