Loyola Marymount University Lu’au


Na Kolea, Loyola Marymount University’s Hawaii Club, sponsors a student run lu’au for LMU students, faculty, and the members of the surrounding community. Each year, a theme is chosen which determines the story of the program. The theme influences the songs and hula dances performed, in addition to the poster and shirt design used for advertisement and promotional purposes. In 2013, I was selected to create a design for the 39th annual lu’au.


  • Tagline translating to “One Stroke, One Journey, One Family.”
  • Lu’au performance/story centered around the creation of the Hawaiian islands
  • Limited to two colors

For the 39th Annual Lu’au, the theme centered around the creation of the Hawaiian Islands and the origins of its people. The tagline was Ho’okahi Hoe Ho’okahi Holo Ho’okahi Ohana: One Stroke, One Journey, One Family. Due to cost, the design was limited to only two color choices, not including the base color of the paper or shirts.


  • Incorporate familiar Hawaiian creation myth references
  • Significant color choice
  • Incorporate human element and canoe reference

Using the tagline, theme, and Hawaiian creation myths as inspiration, the goal for the poster and t-shirt design was to convey these elements into an illustrative design that could be used for storytelling. Having been born and raised in Hawaii, and familiar with some of the native Hawaiian creation myths, I decided to use the well known demi-gods Maui and Pele. Both of these characters, and their stories, are quite recognizable to those with ties to the islands, so I wanted to include elements of familiarity.

Green and yellow were chosen for the color palette as representation of the natural colors found on the islands; green for the trees and mountains, and yellow for the sand and sun. Green also represents the idea of birth.

The tagline also embodies the idea of family and ones personal journey through life, so I wanted to incorporate a human element into the design, in addition to referencing a canoe as a metaphor for journey. The canoe was the main vessel of transportation for the Hawaiians, and it is referenced in the creation legend of Maui.


  • Combined imagery of two stories into a flowing cohesive image
  • Incorporate human element by illustrating characters
  • Simplify shading and utilize different opacity

Hints of the legendary demigod Maui, pulling out the Hawaiian island with his magic fishing hook, along with the fierce fire goddess Pele, living within the mountains of Haleakala, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, mimic an ancient Hawaiian mural of fire, volcanic ash, and stormy seas in a contemporary illustrative style. I was able to incorporate both the human element, and sense of journey by using the canoe reference from the story of Maui and his brothers.

To deal with the limited color palette, I simplified the design, eliminating complex shading, so that I could alternately use green and yellow in an effective way that still created a sense of shading and contrast. Sticking with the same two color values, I varied opacity to create the illusion that lighter or darker shades of green were being used.


The poster helped to increase ticket sales for the 39th Annual Lu’au, while the shirt, sold during the lu’au, helped to increase revenue for Na Kolea’s Hawaii Club. The design successfully summarized the overarching theme of the performance, provided the necessary information of the program, and stylistically reflected a Hawaiian aesthetic, using symbolism, that is unique to the islands.