IN SHORT, Pono’s mission is to use fantasy, world building, and whimsical design to tell stories and create designs that explore home, identity, family, and community. Pono works toward this mission through the creation of dreamlike alternate worlds, inquisitive beings, and expressive design.
IN LONG, Pono is a trans and nonbinary, neurodivergent, Indigenous illustrator and painter based in Minneapolis. Currently working with digital painting mediums such as Procreate, Pono’s mission is to affirm and engage imaginations, especially those whose experiences include queerness, transness, indigeneity, diaspora, and neurodivergence. Pono is interested in picture book illustration, film and video game animation, comics, mission-driven design, and graphic novels. They want to tell stories that explore questions around home, identity, family, and community, and the complex emotions that accompany such questions. Pono plays with bright color, warm light, flowing shapes and lines, and close attention to mood and atmosphere. This style comes out of a childhood love of movies like The Borrowers and James and the Giant Peach, and a current love of anything involving time travel and parallel universes. Pono also finds inspiration in the colors and light of their ancestral home of Hawai’i, tiny graffiti doodles they find in the nooks and crannies of their neighborhood, and their deepening understanding of the connections between their racial, neurological, queer, and gender identities. Hayao Miyazaki, Finnish concept artist and teacher Mikko Eerola, Oliver Jeffers, and Pono's 3-year-old niece are among their favorite artists. Pono lives with their partner, who introduced them to the wonders of children’s literature and earl grey tea, and their elderly dog Kumu, who is very fluffy and only a little stinky.