We had the good fortune of connecting with Steven Kean and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Steven, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
It sounds a bit cliche, but I have always made it a point to be true to myself in terms of what I aim to create. We all have our own unique creative voice and I feel that as an artist, it’s imperative to explore and hone in on that in order to reveal your authentic self. You have to own it and take pride in the product but also be fully present in the steps leading up to it. Confident, yet humble in all your actions. For me, it takes daily reflection, long hours in the studio and full on commitment to achieve the things I want as an artist. I also have the support of my wife who has a background in photography and plays a major role behind the scenes here at Kean Arts. She is creative in her own right and provides valuable constructive criticism to keep me on my toes and help me to stay sharp. Teamwork makes the dream work.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I primarily work in the woodcut method of relief printmaking. It is a unique art form where you carve into a piece of wood, roll ink onto that carved surface, apply paper and pressure and peel the paper from the inked up wood to reveal the print. It is a very hands on, process oriented discipline. I like to say I have a passion for the process. I appreciate the steps leading up to the final product as much as I enjoy the artwork itself. I think that has played a key role into where I am today. I find true fulfillment in the work involved and am excited to share it with others. Whether it be live demonstrations, art shows or simply posting the progress of new pieces on social media; it’s all good and it all factors into the equation. It’s not easy though. It takes a lot of hard work, commitment and the ability to ride out the ebb and flow of the creative journey. Not everyday is going to be a great one in the studio, but as long as I give it my best and leave it all on the table I can go to bed without being too hard on myself. Keep pushing forward and take on new challenges, whatever they may be. One of the proudest moments in my career is being selected as the official artist for the 2017 Van’s World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach. It was a dream of mine that I had when I first moved to Oahu back in 2008. I also recently collaborated with the footwear company, Olukai, in developing a woodcut print that was used as the design on the footbed of one of their premium leather sandals – ‘Honoli’i.’ I’m super grateful for that opportunity and honored to have been a part of it! The artwork I create is mostly ocean inspired. It is my passion, my authentic voice and I hope that reveals itself in the imagery I bring to life.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
First thing I’d do is take them for an early morning surf anywhere along the stretch of coast here on North Shore of Oahu where I live. There’s no better way to start the day. Follow it up with a post-surf coffee and a few apple bananas and then onto the next adventure. Maybe a short hike at some point to take in the beauty of the land – it’s just so awe inspiring here, good for the mind, body and soul. We’d have another evening surf and then cap the day off with a nice dinner and an evening at Maya’s Tapas and Wine in Haleiwa. The food, drink and over all vibe at Maya’s has been an awesome addition to our little town. I would also like to share a bit of the city experience in Honolulu. We would visit the Hawaii State Art Museum (I’m actually a teaching artist there) and follow it up with a bowl of ramen a short distance away at Junpuu. We would take the long way home back to the North Shore and drive along the Windward (east) side of Oahu. It’s a such a scenic drive and worth the extra miles. Hawaii lends itself to a very outdoor way of living. So if you’re up for adventure and follow the golden rule of travel in being respectful to the people and the land, there’s no better place to be.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There is a long list of individuals, organizations and businesses who have supported me over the years. I like to think that every interaction I’ve had on this creative journey has in some way played a part in my development as an artist. It is especially nice to have the support of local businesses here on Oahu who provide a platform to showcase my work. I’ve got nothing but love for you all!
All photos taken by Megumi Kean