Get to know viral artist on SUP, Sean Yoro (a.k.a. HULA)

Photo: Sean Yoro / Aaron A. Photo
Photo: Sean Yoro/Aaron A. Photo

Sean Yoro a.k.a HULA made headlines last week as photos of the artist painting murals while perched on a standup paddleboard began circulating the Internet. Informally dubbed the “SUP artist,” little was known about Yoro.

What was known was that Yoro is from the east side of Oahu, Hawaii, where he was surrounded by surf culture at a young age. From his various social media accounts, it was also known that Yoro scouts for sea walls in unusual, undisclosed places to adorn with oversized, life like faces of model-esque girls from his friend group. And the murals seem to have just sprung out of nowhere.

Turns out, Yoro’s art actually takes anywhere from 10 to 24 hours to paint. His mural process begins the same way a portrait would, by photographing his subject.

“I usually don’t try to plan every pose ahead of time,” he explains but likes to keep things organic to allow for his subject’s personality to shine through. “I’ve always been drawn to the subtle emotions of portraits—the emotions that you can only get hints of, if you look deep enough.”

Photo: Sean Yoro / Aaron A. Photo
Photo: Sean Yoro / Aaron A. Photo

GrindTV had a chance to connect with the artist and learn a little more about the man, his paint brush and SUP.

Photo: Sean Yoro / Aaron A. Photo
Photo: Sean Yoro / Aaron A. Photo

How did you get your start painting?
Art didn’t interest me until my teenage years when I began to idolize local graffiti artists for the work they did on public walls. From there, I began drawing and sketching a lot during my free time. But it wasn’t until college that I dropped into a fine art class and learned how to paint the human figure. I moved to New York the following summer to chase my dreams of becoming an artist.

What made you take your painting to the water and how did you get started?
The ocean and my connection to water has always been a main inspiration for my artwork. I had been working on some underwater photoshoots when the concept first hit me. I considered how fun it would be to work in the water, on a SUP board, instead of cooped up in my art studio. From there the pieces fell together.

Got a funny story to share?
On a photoshoot I did recently, a girl arrived at my studio with dark blue stained hands, explaining that she had dyed her hair the day before. I ended up having to replace her hands in the painting with another girl’s hands.

Have you ever taken a spill while painting?
I use a larger stand-up paddle board made for a person twice my size, so I have plenty of stability — it’s easier than it looks.

HULA is currently working on a documentary of his mural process and this summer keep an eye out for his art in New York City and Hawaii, where he has plans to exhibit.

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