Catching Up With Wooden Wave

Matt & Roxy Ortiz are the husband and wife art duo who collaborate under the name Wooden Wave. Their playful, hand-drawn aesthetic showcases a whimsical take on draftsmanship, with treehouses being a subject of their work. We recently caught up with Matt & Roxy for a Q & A session where they walked us through their origins as artists, what inspires them, and the importance of family to their work. Check out our Q & A below!

What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?

Roxy: Cuddle with our kiddo and get him ready for online-school!
Matt: Stumble around, seek coffee.

What artist/album are you listening to these days?

Roxy: Since we have a toddler, the Frozen 2 soundtrack, haha!
Matt: The Olympians (when not listening to Frozen 2).

What’s your story?

Both of us were born and raised in Hawai‘i. We met in an art class at UH Mānoa. Early on in our dating we discovered how well worked together. It probably helped that we both had similar art influences and deeply loved surfing. A dozen or so years later we still really enjoy the process of collaborating together! As a husband and wife art duo, we work under the name Wooden Wave. Specializing in murals and illustrations of whimsical, sustainable treehouses, our work has been featured on television, print media, shoes, large walls, and now an Aloha shirt! We’re so excited to be releasing this latest design with Kahala, growing up as artists in Hawai‘i, it’s definitely a dream come true!

How did art become part of your life, and where does the name Wooden Wave come from?

Both of us have always been passionate about art from early childhood. We were really fortunate to have parents that nurtured and encouraged our imaginations. Now that we have a 3 year old son it’s so fun to see ourselves reflected in his creativity.
We came up with the name Wooden Wave based on our love for nature, in particular our passion for surfing. The word “Wooden” references the mountains and implies a certain handmade quality. “Wave” is the ocean counterpart. Plus, you’ll notice most of our treehouses will feature a skate board ramp in there somewhere. As surfers when the waves are flat, we skate, and ramps are like “wooden waves” in that sense!

As parents raising a young kid, how does family play a role in your work?

We are so fortunate to have a tightly knit family. Because we work together, and often work from home, it’s so important for us to maintain a healthy balance of work and play. It can be easy to lose track of time when we get locked in on a project. Striking that balance means we need to be present for our son and make time for fun! In designing our treehouse illustrations, we try to think about what would excite our son and other children, as well as adults like us who are kids-at-heart!

What do you want to instill in the next generation?

We really want our work to inspire the next generation of innovators. Kids are so naturally creative and we love seeing the way our work sparks their imagination!

What inspires you?

Our work taps into a healthy dose of nostalgia from our childhood and because of that we both find a ton of inspiration in illustrated children’s books!

What would you say to an aspiring artist?

Do something creative each day, as building a consistent practice is key. Take walks to clear your mind and let it wander - that’s where great ideas can come from.

What does a perfect day look like?

Surfing and playing at the beach with the whole family, having a picnic lunch, then taking a nap!

What is your favorite failure?

Matt: My Taro plants, Kale, and Papaya trees! I work so hard on them but the salt air, wind, sandy soil, and slugs conspire against me! The banana trees are looking good though.
Roxy: When we first started working together we had an organic t-shirt line. While it was a success business-wise, having to manage inventory and retail accounts was draining. As we started to paint murals and take on other creative projects, we realized that we needed to let the clothing line go. We learned a lot from that business experience (creating designs, working with customers, making a marketing plan, etc.) that we were able to use going forward.

Do you have a favorite project or piece you’ve done?

We’re fond of a pair of murals we painted with the students at Sunset Beach Elementary School. One is mountain-themed and the other is ocean-themed. It was wonderful to be part of a legacy project, where each student will grow up and still be able to see the work that they did on that wall.

What’s your “holy grail” wall to paint?

We would love to have a billboard in LA or NYC.

What are your favorite places on Oahu?

To surf: Sunset Beach, Chuns, Queens
For day trips: Honolulu Museum of Art, The Honolulu Zoo, Makapuu
Shops: Paiko, ReUse Hawai‘i, Polu Gallery, Treehouse
To Eat: Piggy Smalls, Arvo Cafe, EARL Sandwiches, Lanikai Juice

When the world opens back up, where is the first place you want to travel to?

Paris, France.

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