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Contrast Magazine

Salva Lopez

Salva Lopez

Words / Mark Kushimi

Salva Lopez was born and raised in Barcelona, Spain, a city that he describes as tiny and easy with a special energy of its own. Growing up, Lopez was always interested in the visual world but for some reason was never interested in photography. That is, until he suddenly and unexpectedly decided to buy his first camera. Admittedly, he “got crazy,” went on to purchase countless books and—of course—all of the camera accessories he could find. At the time, Lopez was living with his grandparents and started to take pictures of them. The photographs he captured turned into his first personal project, one that started to move on the Internet and opened doors to working with print publications such as The Fader and Monocle. Read more

Devin Troy Strother

Words / Lila Lee
Images courtest of Artist and Richard Heller Gallery

My earliest memory of Devin Troy Strother is hot boxing his truck in the back of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena’s parking lot. He kept a bong in his front seat and would pack the fattest snappers. And, of course, afterwards we had to go to Church’s Chicken to get those bomb ass honey biscuits, even if that meant being late for printmaking (sorry Tony). When you see Devin’s current work—sculptures, paintings, installations—and read their titles, you can see that same sense of humor that he’s always had, something I hope he never loses. Read more

Esao Andrews
esao andrews

Words / Mark Kushimi

Esao Andrews grew up in East Mesa, Arizona. As a kid, his neighborhood was at the edge of the desert so he spent a huge chunk of his childhood riding a bike exploring it. He’d collect toads, lizards, scorpions, and find nudie magazines and other typical desert litter. When they started paving the streets Esao got a skateboard. That was his life for a while, skating, doing homework and drawing late at night. During his senior year in high school he received a scholarship to The School of Visual Arts in New York. He got a summer job working the graveyard shift, six days a week at a chemical plant to save money for expenses, then moved to NYC during the fall of 1996 to complete a BFA in illustration. After graduating in 2000, Andrews wore a few hats working as a designer (both web and graphic), illustrator, and of course a painter, exhibiting his work at countless gallery shows. Esao currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Read more

Words / Daniel Ito
Interview / Lance Arinaga
Portrait courtesy of Kawehi

If the Internet was legendary French chef Julia Childs, then singer/songwriter Kawehi is Bouef Bourguignon. Her music is meaty, made with red wine, seasoned to perfection and multi-dimensional like the deceased culinary artist’s signature dish. Childs was not the inventor of the aforementioned French stew, and the World Wide Web did not create Kawehi. Rather, both introduced Bouef Bourguignon and Kawehi to the masses. In a few weeks, Kawehi’s music went viral online thanks to a creatively soulful rendition of Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box” on Vimeo. It was a classic, grunge rock song that was supposed to be impossible to remake, especially by a cute, indie Native Hawaiian girl from Aiea, but when featured it as a Staff Pick the video went viral. A tidal wave of posts, tweets and accolades for Kawehi washed over the blogosphere shortly thereafter. Read more

POW! WOW! Japan Photo Journal

pow! wow! japan
Words & Photography / Mark Kushimi

Being that I live in Hawai‘i, I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing a number of POW! WOW! events. The first was in February 2011, in the back of Fresh Café Kaka‘ako, featuring a handful of artist such as Will Barras, Wu Yue, 123 Klan and Aaron Dela Cruz. Since then, POW! WOW! has grown, hosting week-long festivals with lengthy rosters of artists from all over the world painting larger than life murals not only in Hawai‘i, but in Long Beach, Taiwan and now Japan. Each year I’ve been immersing myself more and more in POW! WOW!, attending gallery shows and artist talks trying to take advantage of the opportunities each festival provides for because I’ve come to realize that POW! WOW! is much more than just the art (which is always amazing), it’s also the process and the people. Read more

Lauren Tsai
Lauren Tsai

Words & Photography / Naz Kawakami

The Internet makes it easier than ever to think you know a person you’ve never met. Sometimes I’ll meet somebody and shake their hand and pretend that I don’t know their name, that I haven’t scanned over their Instagram several times via the explore page, and that I don’t possess an enormous amount of information about them—where they went on vacation, what their lives are like and who they are. But the truth is that I don’t possess that information. I don’t know a person just because I see the things that they make public. This lesson was most apparent to me upon meeting Lauren Tsai. I came upon her art through her social media account some time ago, and immediately became a fan. At 18 years old, she is successful internationally as a model—and now television star—and I had expected to interview a person who was good at art, but had other things in mind. I, wrongfully and shamefully, expected to meet someone who put their art on the backburner. Much to my relief and guilt, I was taken by the amount of passion toward her work, her determination, and her work ethic. I discovered the amount of feeling and focus she pours into what she creates, and how integral it was to her as a person. Read more

The Pacific Project
Words / Race Skelton
Photography / Mark Kushimi

Gabriel “G-Bo” Tennberg and Kyle Spencer are sitting next to each other on a wooden bench on the deck of a 1960s built North Shore home. The surf is rumbling outside, a new northwest swell is filling into Ke Iki Beach across the street, churned from an El Nino weather pattern storm that formed thousands of miles away. Kyle, from Maui, is explaining how he first started working with G-Bo, who’s from Kauai, at surf brand Hurley in Costa Mesa. “I was at Etnies, designing wovens, and G was doing boardshorts at Billabong…no, wait, he’d left Billabong and was at Element. But that was after G-Bo was at Quiksilver.” recalls Kyle. G-Bo’s resume reads as a who’s who of international surf brands. He started at Quiksilver, then moved to Billabong, then Element, then Hurley—where he recruited Spencer to his team—and then on to DC, designing everything from boardshorts to denim to snow gear, holding titles of Design Director and VP of Design. The two clicked together as two outer island Hawai‘i kids would, putting their design stamp on the surf industry. The unique thing about Hawai‘i kids when it comes to surf design is that they grow up in surf wear, specifically boardshorts. It’s literally half your wardrobe, year around. Coming up as groms in the shorebreak then grabbing a plate lunch after, they know what works and what doesn’t. Only later in life would they realize that their adolescent years would be viewed as research and development. Read more

Wooden Wave + Olukai

wooden wave + Olukai
Words / Daniel Ikaika Ito
Photography / Mark Kushimi

The ahupua‘a system is not a new concept, but the ancient Hawaiians’ method of land division is especially poignant today as the whole world strives for sustainability. Prior to western contact, the indigenous people of Hawai‘i used freshwater bodies of water as boundaries to divide pieces of land from one another. Ahupua‘a were literally stone altars with a pig’s head on it that marked these land divisions to let someone know when they entered or exited a particular parcel. The ahupua‘a system itself stretched from the top of the mountain all the way down to the ocean, and each one of these ahupua‘a contained all of the resources necessary for a village to survive without needing to take from another’s ‘aina (land). Everything from freshwater and food to building materials and artistic mediums could be found in one’s ahupua‘a so these resources were cherished, maintained and allowed to replenish by the inhabitants. It was an efficient system of sustainability that allowed the Native Hawaiians to thrive to the point of approximately 686,000 when Captain James Cook first made contact in 1778. Read more

Thomas Campbell
Thomas Campbell
Words / Race Skelton

Wind swept coastlines, silhouttes at dusk, gradient wave tones and indigenous Berber portraits. These images spill off the pages of Thomas Campbell’s book, “Seeing Fatima’s Eyes” a photograph heavy and literary interlude through Morocco. On closer inspection you’ll realize Campbell didn’t breeze through the coastline on a puffed-up surf brand sponsored photo shoot, but has spent years there—decades even—and has traveled along with some of the World’s best and most stylish surfers such as Dan Malloy, Alex Knost, Craig Anderson, Dave Rastovich, Lauren Hill, Trevor Gordon and Ryan Burch. Read more

Sean Yoro (Hula)
Sean Yoro - Hula
Words / Megan Tomino

Sean Yoro aka Hula hit the street art scene with a bang with murals of larger-than-life-sized women painted in oils that seem to float just above the water line on the walls of a flooded abandoned building. To achieve these portraits, Sean used a stand-up paddle board, an anchor, and a lot of balance—some pieces took upwards of nine hours to complete. Sean’s murals may seem like the stunt of a seasoned street artist, but that isn’t the case. Read more