When I was 11 years old, my father had a business trip to Hawaii - the only exotic place his work ever took him. He decided that we should all go, and I felt like the luckiest kid in the world.
Having grown up first in the suburbs of New York, and then in the suburbs of Chicago, I'd never seen anything quite like Hawaii. Everything about it was new and magical, from the volcanos and beautiful blue ocean surrounding it, to the way the palm trees swayed in the island breezes and made me feel so calm and relaxed that I never wanted to leave.
We visited both Oahu and Hawaii, and did lots of touristy things like visiting a Dole pineapple plantation, going to a Luau and driving around the base of Mauna Kea. (I drew the art shown above at the end of the trip - sadly, my artistic abilities haven't improved much in the 40 years since)
We were able to choose a couple of souvenirs that our parents bought for us, and I selected two tikis by Coco Joe. I was fascinated by the visual depiction of the ancient Hawaiian and Polynesian deities, and that's when my appreciation of tiki started.
Here and there over the years, I'd pick up a tiki mug if I found an old one in a store, and have always had them on display. After Sven Kirsten published The Book of Tiki, my love was cemented. My eyes were opened to the whole world of tiki culture that was available for me to learn about and explore.
In the early 2000s, I was a minority partner in a small, independent toy company. We created mostly licensed products and had a good working relationship with MGM. In one of our meetings with them, they told us about the 40th Anniversary of the Pink Panther, for which Shag had created the art. One of the other partners, who was also a tiki fan, and I looked at each other and the first thing we both thought of was creating tiki mugs based on Shag's art for MGM.
But around that time, the company was sort of winding down, and the project never happened. I was determined to make them a reality, though, and so I acquired the license from MGM personally and set up Wondrous Arts (Moku Huna's parent company) to be able to produce and release them before the end of that year.
I recently felt the call of the tiki and relaunched Wondrous Arts, creating Moku Huna as a brand dedicated to creating products for others out there who love the exotic, mysterious and mythological aspects of tiki culture.
Our first new product is based on an idea I had after reading about a lesser known deity in Hawiian mythology called Lo-lupe or Ololupe. The visual appeal of a god who took the form of a kite or a ray stuck in my head. I got in touch with Squid (Dave Cohen), who had sculpted the Pink Panther mugs & bowl way back when, and production soon began.
I hope that you enjoy Moku Huna's products as much as I enjoy dreaming them up and having them made.
Lou Zucaro, aka Luki, Founder of Moku Huna