Kai’ili Kaulukukui was born on the Big Island of Hawaii in September of 1981. As a young child Kai had a great interest in creating art and began drawing at a very young age inspired by Hawaii’s natural beauty, rich native culture, and abundant ocean life. As the son and nephew of fishermen, he spent many hours in the ocean and around the shores of Hawaii. His early drawings were often of underwater scenes full of creatures real and imaginary.
Kai was a BFA candidate at the University of Hawaii Windward campus where he studied for three years under Snowden Hodges who has a deep base in classical techniques of oil painting. Kai was a student in Snowden’s Atelier Hawaii program where he received extensive training in drawing and painting. Simultaneously he was trained in oil painting during an apprenticeship with Dennis Morton, who also taught a classical style education in painting. He then transferred to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Kai spent several years working in the construction industry while trying to balance time to paint and create art. In 2012 he came to the decision to pursue his art career full time and has been working non-stop toward that goal. Currently he works full time as a painter and muralist out of Lana Lane Studios in Kaka’ako in Honolulu. Kai is also volunteering as the Ground Operations Manager at the international marine conservation organization, PangeaSeed Foundation. His duties with the organization and their project Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans, leads to travel and experiences that have been shaping the way he views the world and ultimately his work. Kai has painted large scale works with Seawalls around the world.