Roxy: “There was something about him, where I think I knew before he did that we were a good team.”
Matt:“Let’s be honest, I was kinda clueless. (laughs)”
How does a married couple not only work together but also make art together? We asked Matt and Roxanne Ortiz, the founders of Wooden Wave, a creative consulting company. The couple has been married for three years, but met nine years ago in a figure painting class at the University of Hawai‘i. There, they helped each other with their art homework and surfed together. A friendship grew.
Roxy: “I think that’s what makes working together easier. The kind of friendship that we have is the basis of the relationship so we can bring humor to our work and not take ourselves too seriously. Fun comes first.”
After graduating from Kamehameha Schools, Matt went to the animation program at Loyola Marymount University with an interest in computer generated drafting and design. He missed the warm waters of Hawai‘i and moved back home, graduating with a bachelor’s in printmaking from UH.
Roxy graduated from Lahainaluna on Maui with an interest in painting and ceramics. After attending Oregon State she came back to UH to join their glass blowing program. She also majored in sculpture before graduating with a BA in drawing and painting.
They began working on paintings and projects together after graduation. Matt’s passion for drawing and Roxy’s interest in painting, color and 3D work complemented each other. Where Matt’s style celebrated the hand-drawn structure of illustrations, Roxy liked to reward the viewer with the little details, while simultaneously paying attention to the big picture.
They started their first company, Vers Hawaii, but recently rebranded to become Wooden Wave. They based the name off the very first drawing they ever collaborated on. It was an illustration of a wooden wave comprised of tree grain, roots and leaves as spray.
Matt: “It always stuck with us as one of our favorite images. When we were thinking about rebranding we wanted a name that represented that essence of that wild nature, that tactile-ness—you know we love working with our hands.”
Roxy: “In Hawai‘i there’s this strong idea of Mauka and Makai and we really liked those two aspects. So “Wooden” is Mauka and “Wave” refers to the ocean or makai and our love of surfing.”
Inspired by nature, the ocean, surf, and skate, Wooden Wave has been commissioned to do a variety of projects, from murals to art shows. But their signature work is their imaginative treehouse murals. They have a passion for creating whimsical environments that feel like places people would want to live in. Their art is about possibilities and touching the inner child of the viewer. Best of all, kids love it.
Through compromise and creativity, the couple is making beautiful things happen in Our Kaka‘ako.
Matt: “It’s got this vibrancy, this acceptance of creatives. As artists to be put in a place that has that sort of feeling is amazing. It allows you to feel comfortable and interact with other artists in the community.”
Roxy: “Because we’re a small city, I feel like people say ‘Oh, nothing’s happening on Oahu.’ But in this neighborhood I just feel that’s so far from the truth. If anything, this is the one spot in Hawai‘i that is really moving forward and taking its place as a really creative and innovative hub in the Pacific. Because people do have ideas here and we shouldn’t have to move to the mainland to realize our dreams or create big ideas.”
Show us your coloring skills with this downloadable Wooden Wave DIY Treehouse. Download, color, post and hashtag #meetourmakers to be entered to win a painting from Wooden Wave.
Winners will be announced the second week of November.
WOODEN WAVE FUN FACTS
- Matt did an internship with Warner Brothers in Australia on the set of “Superman Returns” when he was learning about storyboarding.
- The “Wooden Wave” illustration was the first screen print Matt and Roxy ever printed on a shirt.
- Roxy mixes all the paints.
- Matt and Roxy participated in the inaugural POW WOW Hawaii in 2011, a gathering of local and international artists in Our Kaka‘ako.
- Matt and Roxy were one of the first artists to set up shop in Lana Lane, a collaborative workspace of artists, musicians, filmmakers and designers in Our Kaka‘ako.
327 Lana Lane
Honolulu, HI 96813