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Pow Wow artist’s work adorns NFL star
BY GARY CHUN / firstname.lastname@example.org
Tattoo artist Orly Locquiao made his name as a specialist in the design of Polynesian tribal work. You can see this in his collaborative work with Sam Rodriguez as part of the ongoing Pow Wow Hawaii street art festival in Kaka’ako.
Of course, his work adorns the body of his clients, a recent one being noted quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers, who took his team after a long absence to the Super Bowl last month.
Locquiao, 37, came to the attention of the already heavily-inked football player when he and his brother Jason got in contact with Kaepernick through the team barber. Kaepernick had become the 49ers signal caller, and an unexpected star in his own right, after starter Alex Smith went down with a concussion.
With Kaepernick’s subsequent success, the brothers wanted his permission to market T-shirts designed with the Kaepernick name and tattoos on it through their Cukui Clothing brand based out of San Jose, Calif.
Business soared after the T-shirts came out. With a working relationship established, Kaepernick wanted Locquiao to add his Polynesian tribal art to his own “body” of work.
That opportunity arose Feb. 6, three days after the big NFL championship game, when Locquiao tattooed Kaepernick’s chest and shoulders, framing the scripted “Against All Odds” that was already emblazoned across his chest.
This week, Locquiao is finishing up his collaborative Pow Wow Hawaii mural with fellow clothing designer Sam Rodriguez, located next door to the Tropical Blend surf shop on Pohukaina St. The mural also features the aerosol work of the local, nine-man MOK crew.
Viewed from left to right, you can see the contrast of the fluidity of Locquiao’s freehand tattoo-themed art as it juxtaposes with Rodriguez’s abstract portraiture.
“We’ve been meaning to work with each other since 2008,” said Locquiao. “I love Sam’s piece. It has a multicultural feel to it.”
Locquiao — who has family in Ewa Beach and Waipahu — said he’s been tattooing for more than 15 years after starting with graffiti as a teenager in San Jose.
“I started off doodling, drawing things I had seen in cartoons and comic books,” he said. “During middle school, I was in an experimental stage with my graffiti, but I figured after high school, I had to understand the history and the roots of it.”
The art he’s doing for Pow Wow Hawaii marks a “big transition” for Locquiao, who is working on a mural for the first time.
“I can be more creative painting a mural on a wall,” he said. “It’s not a person complaining, moaning and groaning, during the process. When I do tattoos, I have to remember that every client is the boss.”
While Locquiao still does flash art, biker-style tattooing for his clientele, he’s made his reputation with Polynesian tribal work, thanks to the teachings and inspiration of Po‘oino Yroundi (now living in France) and Aisea Toetu‘u of Soul Signature Tattoo, located on Kapiolani Blvd.
“They helped bring in a growing movement of work that strengthens the tradition of the Polynesian tattoo, and not letting go of one’s indigenous roots,” he said.
For more about Pow Wow Hawaii 2013, visit www.powwowhawaii.com.