This post is about the latest concept work "Maui Collection" that you can see in my portfolio.
I have been to Maui Island on Hawaii quite a few times by now. Igor, who's is my really good friend form high school, lives there; and sometimes I go visit him. The first time I went there I was impressed, and "impressed" is a mild word to describe how fascinating it was. I grew up in cities, lived my whole life in cities; yes, I have been to forests and "pretty nature places", but when I saw nature on Maui, it was jaw-dropping, I was speechless.
The first time I was there, I was all over the place. Beach here, mountains there, everything was in a rush. It was the second time, when I got to experience Maui in piece. At some point my friend Igor took me for a hike. We drove over the Hana road on a North shore of Maui and stopped somewhere between Haiku and Wailua.
After climbing an old rusty gate by the side of the road, we had to walk for about 45 minutes towards the sea, coming down the steep hill which technically is part of volcano.
This is about half-way through the hike. So as you can see the road is quite high up and we had to go all the way down to the water. At some point you arrive to the edge of the cliff with a rope hanging down. So you grab the rope and come down "swat style" to a little tip of rocks down on the water. Having massive bags with cameras, lenses and a tripod hanging around me was quite an inconvenience.
So here we arrived. All the way at the water there's this little place of what used to be hot boiling lava. It formed this surreal landscape of layered abstract looking rocks. This place was very special.
I ended up taking nearly 500 photos there as everything looked like I am on another planet and I wanted to capture as much as I could. And the idea of creating patterns started with this picture below. I was amazed by texture, those curvy shapes and that pink color that nature created. For quite some time I wanted to print this photo on my t-shirt or create something with it.
Only a year later I started the "Maui Collection" project. I think what was holding me back is that I didn't had a holistic idea of what it is going to be. I only had that one image in mind and creating something with it, as a stand alone piece, felt somehow out of the context.
What inspired me, though it might sound cheesy, is how Hawaii got it's flora and fauna. But when you think of it, it is actually really cool. Hawaiian Islands are one of the most remote islands on Earth. They are right in the middle of Pacific Ocean and there's literally nothing around. And in the very beginning there was absolutely nothing. Each volcanic cone in the chain of the Hawaiian Islands is built of dark, iron-rich/quartz-poor rocks, which poured out of thousands of vents as highly fluid lava, over a period of millions and millions of years. So the way I imagine, it looked exactly like the images above, just this surreal rock in the ocean with no plants or any hint of life.
Hawaii acquired plants and animals only as they arrived on wind and sea currents traveling thousand of miles around the ocean. Relatively few creatures and seeds survived such a long and arduous journey. Once established in the islands however, many developed into multiple unique species that flourished. So if the weather was stronger one day, or a wind would blow a different direction, that one little seed would not make it to Hawaii and everything would be so different today.
When thinking about how it all came to be I started looking at things differently. And now I had an idea. I wanted to transform some of the unique places on Maui, that feel special to me and remind me of that "birth" story, into patterns that can be applied on clothing.
When I finally had that overarching idea I started going through all my photographs and selecting places. Then I would bring a photograph and start tracing it in Illustrator following the shapes that nature created and using color scheme from the environment.
Another location that I selected for the set is Kaihalulu, or as it is better known the Red Sand Beach in Hana, on the Eastern part of Maui Island. The bay name comes from “kai halulu” which means "roaring sea" in the Hawaiian language. The reason why the sand is all red, is because an entire bay is reach in iron. But what is beautiful here is the color of the water,it would not get this hue of blue if the bottom of the beach would not be red.
After that I started applying patterns on Nike's sportswear to see how it might look like. To be honest I don't feel very comfortable to use Nike's assets, as what they do is already beautifully designed. Designers who work there spent so much time figuring out and designing every piece of clothing and that's why I respect Nike a lot. If someone would take my work, that I spent a lot of time designing, and applied their doodles on it; then post it in their portfolio as their own work, I would be annoyed. But unfortunately I don't have my clothing line yet and Nike has those great assets in extremely high resolution available for download that it was very tempting. Sorry for that.
At that time I was also reading a lot of books on book design and layouts. Couple I would recommend: "Grid Systems in Graphic Design" by Josef Muller-Brockmann, "Making and Breaking the Grid" by Timothy Samara and "Turning Pages" by Robert Klanten. One more book that inspired me a lot is "An Alphabetical Book About Nokia Pure" by Aapo Bovellan, a book on how Nokia's type was created.
Reading all those books made me want to make one myself and try things out with grids. Having all this content designed for Maui Collection I decided to put together a little book that turned into a case study about the project.
Here's a preview of all the pages. And you can check out the completed work here on my portfolio.
I would like to leave you with this thought at the end. Look around more to get inspired. Slow down and don't rush. Also, read as much as you can. Sometimes just seeing things might not be enough. If you read about something, it opens up a whole other level, it widens the spectrum and you will see much richer things in your mind.
And also this post on Medium about importance of personal projects is quite nice "Side Projects Are The New Main Course".