Every Paperblanks® book is inspired by world art and culture, by traditional craft and practice, and by visionaries, rebels and artists across the ages. Behind the Cover is a blog series about the origins of our designs.
The history of printmaking in Hawaii runs as deeply as the roots of its palm trees. From the traditional kapa fabrics made from tree fibres to the popular Aloha shirt we see today, the natural beauty of the Islands’ flowers and foliage has always played a role in Hawaiian design.
Hawaiian printmakers have been creating cloth garments since the 1700s. The traditional fabrics, crafted from bark, captivated the exploring Europeans during that time, and Hawaiian craftspeople have continued to develop their art form over time and have raised it to a level of international appreciation.
At Paperblanks®, our love of Hawaiian prints comes from childhood, as the floral shirts worn by many of our fathers have stayed in our minds as symbols of carefree summer afternoons spent with family and friends. This passion re-emerged upon an early 2000s visit to the American Textile History Museum, which showcased a history of Hawaiian garments. Here, we saw the evolution of Hawaiian fabric arts from the traditional beginnings through their elevation to high fashion in the mid-20th century, through the designs of Alfred Shaheen and to today’s designers and printmakers who have re-popularised the bold and colourful style.
These contemporary patterns, capturing the Hawaiian spirit of joy and unity (known as aloha), have inspired our series. The cover designs featuring the lush tropical florals of Hawaii are evocative of both traditional handpainted designs and contemporary printed fabrics, bringing the attitude of aloha to the pages within.
These exuberant flower and foliage prints have always infused the natural beauty of the Hawaiian Islands with the joyful aloha spirit. More than just a traditional Hawaiian greeting, aloha is a way of life. Contemporary designs, including those gracing our covers, continue to capture the essence of aloha. Our series is inspired by today’s Hawaiian prints and the spirit of joyful harmony that they evoke.
About Paperblanks®: At Paperblanks®, we believe that art should have a place in all aspects of life. That’s why we follow the artist’s way in everything we do – creating, crafting and releasing designs we believe have the power to touch people. For more about Paperblanks®, go to our website at paperblanks.com.