Aaron Kai is fully loyal to his spirit. The Hilo Hawaii-born visual artist, raised amongst the colorful sights and foldings waves of a tropical paradise couldn’t envision a rigid life where he’d subscribe to the typical nine-to-five lifestyle. Armed with a passion for art inspired by Dragon Ball Z, The Simpsons, and the pop culture of his youth, Kai turned a gift for being able to inspire reactions out of people who viewed his creations into a successful career that has seen his work shown in galleries worldwide from New York to Tokyo.
“I took a chance on myself and it really paid off,” says Kai.
This strong belief in himself and the drive to aspire for greatness is why Kai has been chosen as one of The Next 9 by Porsche. Kai credits Hilo and his upbringing for giving him the inspiration he needed to make it in the competitive art world.
“I grew up surfing before school in Hilo and driving down the windy roads to the beach. The scenery and sounds influenced my art. Hilo is paradise and my artwork reflects the sighs, sounds, and smell of the beach on a warm and crisp Hilo morning.”
Hawaii’s influence on Kai’s post-pop art is a strong presence. His paintings often contain bright colors and swirling lines of movement that recall the powerful waves of his home. As Kai has progressed in his career, he continues to soak up the ever-shifting culture that surrounds him, and still sets big goals to work towards.
“I wake up every day inspired by what’s around me and create according to how I’m feeling. My dream was to own a 911 Porsche and I feel like having the best car motivated me to create more deliberately.”
With the nine-to-five life avoided, the ability to be his own boss, and an art career profitable enough to afford his dream car, Kai is heading into his next frontier, perhaps his biggest challenge yet — fatherhood.
“I recently had a son so now creating a better future for him is my number one priority. Being a great dad and husband is now what drives me the most… My biggest influence is my upbringing and my family. As a new father, my wife and son have been influential in the way I go about my life now.”
It’s no doubt that Kai is on a career-high, but he’s always ultimately been working toward a singular goal.
“Freedom… I always want to be able to do what I want and when I want. Having the ability to live in a home that I purchased off art and do what I want with art and make a living is still my end goal. I continue to live like how I was when I first decided that it was time to go all-in on this.”
By being true to his spirit and putting his passions first — art, his dreams, and his family — Kai has been free all along.