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.
ABOUT THE ARTIST/DESIGNER - RAE OKAWA
I 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.
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.
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)
I also enjoy the art of capturing behavior and personality in photographs, especially with wildlife photography. I often use the photos I take to inspire new designs or illustrations.
Other places to find my photography work:
"Hungry Hungry Beetles". Abstract Magazine Issue 7, September 2014.
Introduces the Coffee Borer Beetle and takes you through the effects the tiny insect has had on the Kona Coffee industry.
A digital version of this article can also be found online.
ON THE WEB
Koa Bug Blog
Glimpse into the life of Hawaii's beautiful native Koa bug