About the Artist
Steven Kean Surf Artist / Printmaker | North Shore of Oahu, HI
A Pennsylvania native residing on the North Shore of Oahu since 2008, STEVEN KEAN is an artist working primarily in the woodcut method of relief printmaking. Woodcut is a technique where the artist carves into a block of wood leaving raised areas to receive ink. The inked block is then printed on paper. Kean’s work is a collection of wave and coastal studies utilizing this technique. It is driven by a passion for the process and a love affair with the ocean. The woodcut prints are an exploration into the dichotomy of stillness versus movement, translating a symbiotic connection between human and water into visual language.
Kean holds a B.S. in Art Education from Temple University, Philadelphia, PA and studied printmaking at University of Hawaii at Manoa. He is a working professional artist and is on the teaching artist roster with the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. Kean’s formative years were spent taking weekend and after school road trips to surf the beach breaks of neighboring New Jersey. He eventually moved to the state, taught art at the high school level and spent as much time as possible in the ocean. In 2008, Kean moved to Hawaii in search of surf and creative exploration. The sea cast its spell on him early on in life and has been a common thread in his artwork ever since.
His professional art career began in 2016 at his first solo exhibition at the Manifest in Honolulu, HI. Soon after, his artwork was installed at the Beet Box Café in Haleiwa, HI where Kean has had a rotating body of work hanging ever since. Later that year he was chosen as the featured artist for the Haleiwa Arts Festival. Kean was also chosen to participate in creative events with FLUX Hawaii Magazine (Venice, CA 2016 / Sydney, Australia 2017.)
One of the highlights of his career was being selected as the official artist of the 2017 Vans World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach. Later that year he was honored to have his work installed at the Four Seasons Resort, Ko Olina. His artwork is also installed at Rosewood Baha Mar Luxury Resort in Nassau, Bahamas (2019) and Fairmont Kea Lani Luxury Hotel on Maui (2021) in addition to various locations around the Hawaiian Islands.
Kean has traveled to Japan on many occasions over the years to represent Hawaii artists and exhibit his work alongside other creatives. In 2019 his work was noted as one of the ‘West’s Most Collectable Crafts’ in the Sept/Oct issue of Sunset Magazine. In 2020 Steven was commissioned by the footwear company, Olukai, to create the design elements of a premium leather sandal, 'Honoli'i. That same year he was commissioned by Kahala MKT by Foodland (Oahu) to develop a woodcut print of Le’ahi (Diamond Head.) The artwork is the main visual imagery in the store and is implemented in the various branding elements.
In 2022 Kean had his 5th Solo Exhibition at Polu Gallery, ‘Mauka to Makai.’ Later that year he was honored to be featured in the ‘Native Intelligence’ section of the May/June 2022 issue of Hana Hou! in-flight magazine by Hawaiian Airlines. In February 2023, his work was incorporated in design elements at Manalo Lounge (Four Seasons Ko Olina.) Following that project, Steven executed two of his largest and most notable commissioned projects to date, one with Google and another with Starbucks. In January 2024 Kean will be showcasing his most recent collection of woodcut prints in his 6th Solo Exhibition titled, ‘Playing with Sand.’ He is always on the lookout for new sources of inspiration and is continually seeking creative growth as a working professional artist and art educator in Hawaii.
‘The process of carving wood evokes emotions that are similar to those experienced when riding a wave. I enter a soothing, therapeutic, almost meditative state when driving a gouge through the block. The sensation of carving a smooth line is similar to the feeling of sliding on the surface of a wave. In each activity, I’m harnessing a certain energy. I seek to challenge myself in conveying this parallel to the viewer through the repetition of crisp line work and elegant mark making. It is an exploration into the dichotomy of stillness versus movement.’