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“You can never have too much Aloha!”
And by that, Wahiawa-born Michael Paz means 365 days of it. Everyday for almost a year, he’s been spreading the island spirit through his creativity as a graphic designer; making an ALOHA-themed graphic on the daily has become as routine as brushing his teeth. In fact, it’s become a “project” even more meaningful, a project that diffuses the simple concept of Aloha through each passing day.
Project Aloha is nothing like a school science project nor is it pronounced like that; instead, “project” is meant to sound more along the lines of projecting your voice, or in this case, projecting kindness and Aloha. Now on Day 352, his Aloha quiver showcases everything from crashing surf on Oahu’s North Shore to pineapples and mermaids. I’m really digging the vintage designs and the ones with simple – yet catchy – phrases, like “I’m with ALOHA” (Day 306) and “Aloha, a Hawaii Standard” (Day 272).
His inspiration for designs comes from what happens that day; sometimes they’re themed around a particular holiday or an event, like the Olympics. Other days, he looks to music, television, books and magazines. Overall, it’s “nostalgia (that) is very important to this whole idea,” he said. To him, the designs should represent feelings people have or had while in Hawaii, and so far, he’s been able to “pass on” Aloha to people all over the world, including South Africa, England, Japan, Spain and Switzerland. His biggest ambassadors of Aloha come from, of course, right here in the Hawaiian Islands.
(Top) “I’m with Aloha,” Day 306 and “Mermaid,” Day 288 (bottom).
To Michael, getting someone to smile at a particular design or at the unconditional spirit of Aloha means he’s done his job for that day. After all, the idea for Project Aloha came about after he noticed ill will coming through Facebook posts. That’s huge for someone who relocated to Ohio – thousands of miles from loved ones – and relies on social media to stay connected with them and the islands. To see them lose a bit of the Aloha spirit was beyond disheartening.
“I wanted to spread some long distance cheer and let folks known that the Aloha spirit is alive and well,” he said. “We should perpetuate that and less of the negativity.”
It was the same negativity he had been trying to avoid falling victim to after losing his job of eight years. That’s why Project Aloha hit home for him; it “saved” him, as he put it. Michael continued to push through with the same desire to design and the same (if not, more) rewarding experience every graphic designer could only hope to accomplish with what they cranked out on paper, so-to-speak.
Pazzy’s personal favorite, “Cobrah,” sheds new light on the hang loose gesture.
While paper may be an old-fashioned medium, cotton tees aren’t! Michael managed to give new meaning to aloha shirts with his line of ALOHA tees. You can check out the shirts at his website or at a handful of retail stores in the islands.
“Sure, I make everything here in Ohio, but I’m Hawaiian, so it’s a local brand,” he said. “People in Hawaii dig it. Tourists also like (getting) something you won’t find back in Kansas!”
As Day 365 quickly approaches, we’ll see what Michael has in store for his Project Aloha ambassadors. Whatever it is, the message is sure to remain the same: “ALOHA, pass it on.”
PROJECT ALOHA • ALOHA-themed designs made for 365 days • www.projectalohahawaii.com • LIKE on Facebook or Follow on Twitter @Pazzy327
Photo Courtesy: Project Aloha