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. 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. 
digital version of this article can also be found online.


Koa Bug Blog
Glimpse into the life of Hawaii's beautiful native Koa bug