Ever since I was a child growing up in Hawaii, I have had dreams about becoming a writer. I remember reading a big red book with poems and stories by Hans Christian Andersen and others, and I studied the illustrations endlessly. On one Christmas, I cut out pictures from cards, pasted them on paper, and wrote a story about a little animal that ends up in the manger. As a young child, I watched monster movies, cartoons, westerns, and old movies on t.v., and I read a lot of comic books about superheroes, including Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. In middle school, I read all of the Newberry and Caldecott prize-winning books for children. I remember seeing my father reading the Alfred Hitchcock mystery series, and so I read them as well. I was fascinated with mythology, gods and goddesses, legends, fairy tales, and folktales. In later years, I was hooked on science fiction and fantasy books by such authors as Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Jules Verne, Lewis Carroll, and Ursula Le Guin. I would often imagine what the stories would look like illustrated.
When I went to college in Hawaii, and instead of majoring in English and art, I majored in education because my parents wanted me to become a teacher. After I graduated, I could not find a job, so I applied for a technical writer position and ended up in marketing, eventually moving to Washington, D.C., where I lived for four years. All of the major museums there were free to the public, and so I visited them and learned about art. I moved to Chicago and studied business and finance and worked in the financial industry, but something was missing in my life.
I wanted to do something creative, visionary, pioneering, and life altering, so in January, 2006, I decided to become a children’s book writer and illustrator. After spending years writing winning proposals, I knew I had the writing skills. Although I had not taken any formal art classes, I was not going to let that stop me from attaining my goal. I took art classes and learned how to draw and paint. In art history class, I was intrigued with the works of Raphael, Rembrandt, C´e;zanne, Matisse, van Gogh, Picasso, and Rauschenberg among others. In Ed Hinkley’s Studio, I learned to handle the intricacies of watercolor and gouache painting, which I use in my illustrations.
The illustrations I have done thus far all involve animals—zoo animals, endangered species, and animals with superpowers. I wanted to show the beauty and the true nature of these animals in a whimsical setting. For the zoo animals, I tried a splatter technique using watercolor. I used watercolor and gouache in a more traditional approach to create the endangered species series. The stories about animals with superpowers include fairy tales, folk tales, legends, and myths. For these animals, I used watercolor and gouache in the illustrations.
My life influences have included but not limited to the following (not in any particular order):
- Tibetan Buddhism
- Hawaiian Huna Philosophy
- The I Ching
- The Teachings of Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda
- Memories, Dreams, Reflections and The Red Book by Carl Jung
- The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
- Fairy Tales by Hans Christen Andersen
- Illuminated Books by William Blake
- Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia
- Mythology Series by Joseph Campbell
- Hawaiian Antiquities and Folklore by Fornander and Thrum