Che Pilago didn’t go to school to learn the art of tattooing. His education took place at home on the Big Island – watching, listening, working with his dad and uncles – carrying on the honored tradition of master carvers from one generation to the next.
“I learned by doing,” Che says. “Pottery. Carving. Stretching skin for my dad. Nothing on paper. Just doing.”
Since inking his first tattoo at the age of 12, Che keeps the family legacy going by specializing in Polynesian tattoo and clothing designs. His art reflects the harmony of his mixed heritage of Hawaiian, Samoan and Filipino, with his interest in Pacific cultures, legends and art.
The artist used his diverse roots and spiritual teachings as inspiration to create our distinctive new “tattoo” pattern.
As opposed to traditional straight-line Polynesian patterns, Che’s modern style incorporates flowing contours and curves. “That’s because life is full of bends. You learn to get around obstacles. It isn’t just a straight path,” he said.
The design elements are pulled from cultural values that have inspired Che:
Derived from contemporary Filipino design reflecting bamboo qualities of bending but not breaking. If you work together, the spirit is unbreakable.
One of the four Hawaiian gods. Symbolizes strength through working as a team.
Tree fern represents mental, physical, spiritual strength. Two together form a heart shape representing unity, love.