All our prints tell a story. Learn about the stories behind our our designs.
While I was designing this print, I kept on thinking of the ouroboros—that primordial symbol of a snake devouring its own tail. At the same time, I was inspired by the idea of a garment bearing a protective pattern, a concept found in many cultures. Fittingly enough, the ouroboros has a long mystical history, spanning Ancient Egypt to Renaissance Europe and appearing on everything from amulets to alchemical manuscripts. I was also interested in turning something as culturally maligned as the snake into something of beauty. To create the drawing for the pattern, I referred to 19th century illustrations to give it some visual gravitas. I actually began with Ben Franklin’s “Join, or DIe” illustration, the first american political cartoon.
Palm trees may be a common tropical trope—but I was drawn to them for a less obvious reason. I was interested in the idea of protection and concealment. Incredibly broad, palm leaves provide shielding from prying eyes. And their edges are sharp. To create the print, I drew a Licuala grandis palm leaf and then repeated its shape. From here, an element of mimesis emerges. In different colorways, the overlapping leaves can pass as shells or even fans. This visual play is intriguing, as I had wanted to do a botanical print—but without being conspicuous about it. Thus, the finished print camouflages the original intention. I named it after Palmyra Island which has a very mysterious history.
My most beloved beach on O‘ahu’s Windward side—Kalama Beach Park in Kailua—is the place that sparked this print. While much of Kailua’s beachfront is increasingly dominated by plush private estates, beach access—like everywhere in Hawai‘i—remains stalwartly public. Built to ensure privacy for residents, the walls that line the access paths have been the site of an ongoing creative conflict of sorts. The walls have been repeatedly bombed by graffiti only to be painted over again and again. With the resulting multilayered juxtapositions of colors and shapes, these haphazardly, ever changing canvases have turned out to be some of the most formally beautiful paintings I’ve ever seen.