We are delighted to feature the accomplished Native Hawaiian artist and historian, Brook Kapūkuniahi Parker. He has illustrated several children’s books for ʻAha Pūnana Leo Hawaiian Emersion Schools and created numerous stunning commission pieces for clients throughout Hawai’i. His passion is to create breathtaking art that brings life to our ancestors, and he does so through his extensive knowledge of Native Hawaiian history and culture.
For those who haven’t met you, could you please tell us a little about yourself?
I have always loved to draw since I was little but only started painting in 2009. I’ve been married for 32 years, 5 children, two grandchildren. My biggest supporter is my wife and business partner, Drena.
Where did you grow up? What high school did you grad from?
I was raised in Kahaluʻu, Heʻeia, and Kāneʻohe, Oʻahu. I attended Castle High School and graduated class of ’79.
Go Knights! Why did you become an illustrator? Did you always know you could create art?
I learned art by watching my dad create his art. I am passionate about family history and honor the ancestors by painting their stories and accomplishments.
Note: Brook’s father, David Kaleiomanoanahulu Waipa Parker, was a gifted writer and aliʻi member of the Royal Order of Kamehameha.
What do you enjoy most about creating art? What are some of your greatest challenges?
I enjoy telling the stories of our kūpuna and keeping their names and memories alive visually.
What are your hopes and dreams for the year and beyond in terms of your artistic career and what you would like to see published in the future?
I am thankful I am able to provide for my family by painting and hope to publish a book on the Great Chiefs of Hawaii which will include the art I have created.
We are looking forward to that! There are not a lot of Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander or people of color kid lit illustrators. Why do you think that is?
Yes, I agree. We need more Pacific nation artists to tell our stories through our own eyes.
Do you have a website? Are you on social media?
My website is Hawaiian at Art. Iʻm also on Instagram and Facebook.
What advice would you give an aspiring illustrator?
Don’t give up, holomua, move forward, improve your skills, and be passionate about what you do.
Can you share a bit of your current work?
I am currently completing a large painting of Chief Kaiana with his brothers, Nahiolea and Namakeha.
Where do you get your inspirations?
From books, stories and other gifted artist I admire.
Illustrators and artists, like writers, do a lot of research when theyʻre creating. Whatʻs your research process like?
I study, meditate and pray before projects.
Can you share a bit about what you’re working on next?
Iʻm not quite sure yet, maybe something of a Hina vibe.
We have much to look forward to from you! Mahalo, Brook, for sharing your manaʻo! To learn more about Brook Parker and to view samples of his art, visit his website at Hawaiianatart.org and follow him on Instagram.