With its sandy beaches, lush landscapes, and sparkling blue oceans, it’s no wonder that Hawaii is among the top vacation destinations. Still, few people know what it is really like to be a native of the Aloha State. For Shar Tuiasoa of Punky Aloha Studio, her island upbringing is a formative element of her art. With her strikingly colorful illustrations, Tuiasoa crafts her own unique visual language, and shares a little slice of paradise in the process.
Born and raised on the island of Oahu by a mother who studied illustration, Tuiasoa grew up surrounded by art—even tagging along to a few of her mother’s college art classes as a child. She has since found her own way as an artist, carving out a space for herself in the local Hawaiian art community as a freelance illustrator. Drawing inspiration from a variety of sources, her vibrant pieces tell the story of modern island life and Polynesian culture with bright, graphic forms and stylized details. Each one creates a visual space where her own story—and those of women like her—are represented and celebrated.
“Being from Hawai'i has a huge influence on my style and aesthetic choices,” Tuiasoa tells My Modern Met. “I am so inspired by the vibrancy of our Polynesian culture and environment and the colors that surround me every day. Everything I create is created from the heart. I love what I do and I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to share my heart with people every day.”