Toward the Mountains. Toward the Sea: Matt and Roxy of Wooden Wave and Their Olu'kai Artwork
Lana Lane is an artsy little alleyway in Kaka’ako, an industrial area just west of Waikiki that is in the process of being transformed from dusty, inexpensive industrial buildings to high-rise rentals. Tucked away in Lana Lane, you will find an art studio called Wooden Wave, and there most hours of the day are Matt and Roxy Ortiz hard at work, creating.
Both Hawaiian residents — Roxy is from Maui, Matt from Oahu — the Ortizes are collaborating with OluKai to create a Hawaii-inspired design for Olukai’s Artist Collab Collection, as well as a print that will be included with each pair of OluKai footwear (sandals and closed-toe shoes).
On a windy Sunday afternoon in January, Matt and Roxy were in the studio, at work.
What is Wooden Wave? How long have you been in operation?
We've been collaborating under this name for eight years now. Both of us grew up in Hawaii and our work has a hand-drawn aesthetic that reflects a playful sensibility and appreciation for draftsmanship. Our projects include paintings, prints, and murals. Our work frequently revolves around tree houses …
Tree houses? Tree houses are cool. Swiss Family Robinson! Why tree houses?
… We see them as an expression of that nostalgic sense of possibility and innovation that you had as kid. But beyond the romanticism of a rad clubhouse built in the canopy, the addition of solar panels, water catchment systems and aquaponics make each treehouse composition relevant to the environmental issues of today. It's our whimsical take on sustainable development.
Did you both go to art school? What is your experience leading up to this project?
We both graduated with BFA's in art. We specialize in hand-drawn illustration, painting, and murals.
You seem pretty busy right now, what are you working on?
We are painting two murals this month. The first one is at the Surfjack Hotel in Waikiki and the second will be for this year's Pow! Wow! Hawaii mural festival happening from February 6th to the 13th.
How long have you been in that space in Kaka'ako?
How long have you two been married?
How are you involved with OluKai?
We collaborated on a capsule collection of shoes with OluKai. The theme of the collection was “Mauka to Makai.” In Hawaii, these two terms are commonly-used directional expressions. Mauka refers to the inland or mountain region and Makai refers to shoreline regions, or seaward. We began the collaboration by creating a concept piece that would guide the visual direction for the shoe artwork. The final artwork for the footwear was then taken from parts of the finished concept piece. The capsule collection that we collaborated with Olukai on includes both men’s and women’s shoes and sandals. When you look at the concept piece (below), the top half of the image represents the inland/mauka concept and was used on the men’s footwear and the lower half of the image ocean/makai was used on the women’s footwear.
Here’s a breakdown of the specific iconography for the piece: The sky and mountain regions are rendered with an angular topographic line quality. The mountain range is drawn to represent the rugged Koʻolau mountains. If you visit the windward side of Oʻahu, the Koʻolau mountain range stretches the entire length of this side of the island and is a dominant feature of the landscape.
As you transition down from the mauka region to the makai (seaside) region, the colors change and the lines take on a more flowing style. The artwork for the women’s footwear was taken from this portion of the concept piece. The lei forms that weave in and out of the wave crests signify the idea of “aloha.” In Hawaii when you give someone a lei it’s a genuine way to show aloha, and we felt it was an appropriate way to express the spirit of the islands.
Does your work extend outside of Hawaii?
This past year, we also had the opportunity to team up with them for other exciting projects. We painted a mural at the Zappos headquarters in Las Vegas, which was immediately followed by a road trip through national and state parks in Nevada and Utah. You can see our adventure here
We were awe-inspired by the sights on this trip as it shocked our senses, expanded our color palette, and furthered our appreciation for the wide spectrum of nature’s beauty.
You have made designs for their sandals and shoes?
Yes, these came from illustrations and were derived in concept from the mauka/makai image.
And OluKai is also giving away a print you have done?
Print is used on the packaging for the shoes. As for details about the poster print, it will be a gift with purchase of any Artist Collab product purchase made on OluKai.com.