By Lexus Yamashiro | Staff Writer

In February 2018, KCC alumnus Derick Fabian had one week to paint a mural on a portion of a wall on Coral Street in Kakaʻako for POW! WOW! Hawaiʻi. This annual event that only allows local and global artists to participate through invite was one that Fabian believed to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, giving him the chance to create his first professional hip-hop themed mural with a local twist.

One year later, the 41-year-old has been selected to again participate in POW! WOW! Hawaiʻi 2019 from Feb. 8 to 22 and is ready to bring his art characters to life again.

“I was telling everyone, ‘Oh yeah, I would love to be selected again but I’m not too sure,’ but I just didn’t want to get my hopes up,” Fabian said. “Needless to say, when I got that invite again I was super stoked.”

Originally from Lihue, Kauaʻi, Fabian’s passion for art is what he said has stuck with him since he was a child. His career in the art field took off in 2009 while finishing up his second degree at KCC in New Media Arts Interface Design as he was getting job offerings through the campus to produce artwork, one of them including working as a cartoonist for the old Kapiʻo. By then, Fabian was already going by the artist name of 7Sketches, a pseudonym he developed based on his favorite number and the reason for why he enjoys doing art.

Getting discovered as a local artist to participate in his first POW! WOW! Hawaiʻi in 2018 all began with Fabian’s first solo art show in June 2017, an event that he said his close friend Kavet Omo was able to make possible. Omo, who met Fabian through a vendor event for Art + Flea, said it was Fabian’s unique hip-hop styled artwork that got Omo interested in wanting to learn more.

After observing and talking with Fabian, Omo said it was Fabian’s persona and the way he worked to showcase his art that led Omo to the idea of providing a space for Fabian to do a solo art show.

7Sketches mixes styles of hip hop and graffiti into his art work to make his characters come to life. (Photo courtesy of 7Sketches)

“I’ve seen him hustle at Art + Flea … and on top of people’s natural talent as artists, I really respect someone’s hustle, the grind that they put in,” Omo said. “So I was like, ‘7Sketches, you can do it, you can do it’ and [Fabian’s first solo show] was great. Hundreds of people, packed! I think he sold at least half his pieces that same night.”

The exposure that Fabian was able to receive during his solo art show convinced him to invite Amy Wong, the owner of Big Bad Wolf in Ward, to see his merchandise as he hoped it would interest her in selling some of his products in her store. After seeing the potential that Fabian carried through his pieces, she convinced her husband Jasper Wong, the founder of POW! WOW! Hawaiʻi, to invite Fabian to be a part of the event.

During the week of Feb. 12, 2017, Fabian dedicated as much time as he could to create a mural that would portray his style and artistic characters. Consisting of graffiti, hip-hop, and anime blended together, Fabian’s love for this mixture of style influenced him to paint a mural themed as a hip-hop album cover. With a panda, rabbit, maneki-neko (lucky cat), and octopus dressed in hoodies and hip-hop apparel and posing with peace signs as an elephant city bus rides in the background, it is a creation that Fabian did with the intention to capture the attention of passersby and fans for pictures.

“I wanted that piece to be interactive. … I had [my characters] posing in a selfie opportunity type of shot,” Fabian said. “I want to do it again this year because I love it when people take pictures in front of my mural.”

With painting for POW! WOW! Hawaiʻi 2019 beginning on Monday, Feb. 11, Fabian said he will be trying a new approach to his mural: spray painting. Having never done art pieces with spray cans, it will be a challenge and learning experience that Fabian said will most likely result in a simpler design but much vibrant in color compared to last year.

Since starting out small by doing comic strips in college to now being selected for POW! WOW! Hawaiʻi twice in a row, Fabian said doing art has only strengthened his passion while continuing to expose him to new opportunities.

“It broadened my horizon big time, it brought me out of my shell,” Fabian said. “I fall under the category of introverts, so I just do things at home but doing art and then putting yourself out there … it’s crazy, the connections I’ve made, the people I’ve met, all the kinds of inspiration and places it took me to that I would never imagine.”