7sketches combines street style with anime and cute characters to create unique artwork. (Photo courtesy of Derick Fabian)

By Cameron Enomoto | Staff Writer

While walking around Kakaʻako near SALT, you might notice colorful murals and street art. Hidden in the corner of some of those pieces is social media tag that reads, “@7sketches,” which is a local art company currently run by KCC alumnus Derick Fabian.

I never thought in a million years I’d get to that point where people enjoy the type of art that I like to do for myself as opposed to being commissioned,” said Fabian. “I’ve been into art ever since I was a kid. As far back as I can remember I’ve always been drawing, and I never stopped. The most exciting thing for me as a kid was when my mom would come home from work with a box of computer paper for me to draw on.”

The road to success isn’t easy. Derick Fabian’s career as an artist faced hardships before becoming as successful as it is today. (Photo courtesy of Derick Fabian)

The 45-year-old artist is originally from Hanamaʻulu, Kauaʻi, but currently resides in Honolulu. He studied 3D animation at KCC from 2007 to 2009 and moved to the mainland shortly after in search of art-related jobs. With no luck, Fabian worked various service jobs to pay the bills but found himself unhappy. In 2010, he returned to KCC to study interface design and completed the program in 2012.

When I entered into college, I tried to avoid art because of the whole ‘starving artist’ thing,” said Fabian. “I tried to pick a major that was guaranteed good income as opposed to being passionate about art.”

The stereotype of the starving artist is that a person will sacrifice material well-being to focus on their passion, whether that be music, writing, or art. While the artist may not necessarily be starving, the term indicates that they are struggling financially.

“Before I went back to KCC for interface design, I was actually considering joining the radiology program because my friend got into it and they got a job immediately and made good money,” said Fabian. “So it was really a contemplation between my passion or good income. That’s when I talked to a counselor and he said, ‘Derick, you’re an artist at heart. My suggestion to you is to take a semester of interface design, and if you still feel like you need to do something for the money then you can.'”

Fabian primarily does his work digitally first by using programs to sketch everything out and choose colors before starting anything physically. (Photo courtesy of Derick Fabian)

After taking the counselor’s suggestion, Fabian followed his passion and put everything he had into cultivating his skills as an artist. He was able to get multiple freelance jobs on campus, one of which included writing comic strips for Kapiʻo News. The idea for the company he runs today, 7sketches, was brought about by Pow!Wow!, which is an international mural arts festival that was founded in 2009 by Jasper Wong. The festival has had multiple celebrations in cities around the world like Hong Kong; China; Long Beach, California; and Portland, Oregon.

Fabian worked for Kapiʻo News as a comic strip writer in 2011 and 2012. (Kapiʻo News Archives)

Fabian began his company after going to Pow!Wow! 10 years ago and observing the artworks on exhibition.

“My style fell on that spectrum of works that were up there and I thought, ‘Man if these artists can do art in the same way I do it and make it big like that then maybe I have a chance,'” said Fabian.

“Having a concept floating around in my head and being able to materialize it is rewarding to me, but sharing that with others and going beyond is the best,” said Fabian.

Fabian said that his style today is heavily influenced by graffiti art and anime. He enjoys the exaggeration of thick lines from graffiti art and the shading and highlighting aspects of anime pieces. He also appreciates cute minimalistic designs like Sanrio characters such as Hello Kitty and Keroppi.

Today, Fabian’s artwork can be found in Kakaʻako alongside other murals and in stores around Oʻahu like Teapresso Bar in Salt Lake and Smokey’s Pipe and Coffee on University Avenue. Fabian’s more recent art can be found on his Instagram page at @7sketches. Additionally, he sells merchandise like pins, stickers, and shirts on his website. Reflecting on his journey as an artist, Fabian said he is grateful to everyone who has helped him achieve his dream and he looks forward to meeting new people and connecting with his audience.

“The fact that people want to buy stuff from me trips me out, but also being able to connect with people is so cool, … though I wouldn’t have been able to do those things without my education at KCC,” said Fabian. “If not for that I don’t know if I’d be doing what I am right now and at the level I’ve worked it up to.”