Hawaii’s street art mimics the already bright and colorful natural landscape, bringing the vivid rainbows and waterfalls seen every day into urban areas. The city’s grey walls and dirty alleyways are transformed into colorful works of art representing the island lifestyle and culture.
Hawaii’s main street art festival
Hawaii’s street art scene has definitely gained international recognition, after introducing POW! WOW! Worldwide, an event supported by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Local and international artists gather for the week-long festival and let their imagination run free in the district of Kakaʻako, an up-and-coming area for contemporary eats and trendy coffee shops. The same festival is also held in Taiwan, Israel, Singapore, Jamaica, Washington D.C., Guam, New Zealand, Germany and many more locations across the globe.
Street art influences
It’s impossible to be a creative in Hawaii and not be influenced by your surroundings. The ocean, plants, animals, Hawaiian legends, people, and culture of the islands are often depicted in the artwork.
Best places to see street art in Hawaii
While most of the art is located in Honolulu and Kakaʻako, there are quite a few locations that lovers of design, illustration and murals will appreciate.
Hailing from the Netherlands, muralist and painter Joram Roukes is known for his provoking abstract mashups. This eye-catching nene goose piece—a bird endemic to the islands—is located on the parking lot of Ward Center.
Marko Livingston, a local tattoo artist with a passion for street art created this Japanese-inspired wave and underwater scene. The original yellow color of the building really makes all the blue hues pop.
Kevin Lyons is a household name in design, having worked with brands like DC Shoes, Stance Socks, CLOT, and Jolly Rancher—an obvious match made in heaven. His iconic little monsters have now taken over Honolulu on a huge 60-foot long by 16-foot high wall in the Kakaʻako district.
Sci-fi like murals featuring Asian concepts and bold female figures are the specialty of Bay Area artist Lauren YS. Her work can be seen in Kakaʻako on Oʻahu and in Downtown Hilo on the Big Island. Both feature creepy squids—maybe there’s an interesting backstory there.
Local boy Kamea Hadar creates incredible lifelike murals and paintings typically of gorgeous Hawaiian women. His artwork truly captures the beauty of the islands through the people and culture. Hadar also happens to be the co-director of POW! WOW! Worldwide.
Back in 2012, Colette Miller started the Global Angel Wings Project to “remind humanity that we are the angels of the earth.” Her angel wing murals are now located in dozens of cities around the world and are continually shared on social media. Her mural in Hawaii is located on Oʻahu’s North Shore in the town of Haleiwa.
Hilo, Big Island
Eastern lettering merges with the Hawaiian philosophy of mana (spiritual and supernatural power) in this mural. Artists Cryptik and David Hooke worked together to create this stunning piece featuring the Big Island’s iconic red lehua blossom.
Kamea Hadar once again mesmerizes commuters with this vivid mural of a child making a lei in Maui.
Eric Okdeh has traveled the world painting enormous murals that highlight the area’s local culture. He encompassed the spirit of the islands perfectly with his hula dancer and child framed by the life-giving kalo plants and mountains.