About Native Hawai‘i Designs

I love Hawai‘i's native species, especially birds, but could never find many products with native birds on them. I started Native Hawai‘i Designs as a way to explore graphic design and illustration as well as to produce and share products that I had always wanted for myself.


Rae OkawaI was born and raised on Oahu. Funny enough, I was actually scared of birds when I was little (I think it had something to do with me not wanting to get pecked...), but I luckily grew out of it and became a huge bird lover in middle and high school. After high school, I left Oahu to attend Cornell University in NY to major in biology and spend as much time as I could at the famous Laboratory of Ornithology. While in college I also had the privilege of being part of a team conducting a vocal mate recognition study of Green-rumped Parrotlets in Venezuela. When I graduated with my Bachelors of Science degree, I then moved on to PA to do a two-year Masters program at the University of Pennsylvania in Environmental Studies. During that time, I shifted gears from fieldwork to education, outreach, and nonprofit management and fundraising. When I graduated with my Masters degree, I was fortunate to be able to return to my home state of Hawai‘i to work at the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center in fund development. Although I miss being in the field (except maybe the whole waking up well before sunrise to go on a major hike to set up mist nests thing...), I love my job at HWC and the work that HWC does to protect Hawai‘i's native birds and bats. I created Native Hawai‘i Designs not to replace my current job, but more so I could do the artsy things that I enjoy while also helping bring love and awareness to native species. 


I like to play with different styles and am not married to any particular art or illustration style. I originally started out with biological illustration using pencil and pen, then acrylics. 

biological illustration

More recently I've been experimenting with bold and cartoon-style illustrations, perhaps as a nod to my love of anime and kawaii (cute) culture. 

graphic illustration

Or perhaps I'm reverting back to my university days when my notebooks were about 50% notes and 50% doodles! (enjoy this blast from the past)

notebook doodles


I also enjoy the art of capturing behavior and personality in photographs, especially with wildlife photography. A very limited portfolio of my images can be found on my SmugMug page. One day I'd like to update my photography portfolio with more photos! I often use the photos I take to inspire new designs or illustrations.