Monday, January 26, 2004



Aloha again
to ‘Boat Days’

Linda Umstead, of Mililani, won
a contest to design the artwork
for the hull of Pride of Aloha

Everyone is born with talents in some direction; it's in your DNA. My mother was an artist, one of the first women to graduate from the prestigious Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., and my father worked for a big New York fashion publication. From an early age, I found it natural to express myself with images and words. I simply followed my internal voice.

My career as a designer has enabled me to work with some of the world's largest companies, and I enjoy it tremendously. My joy is to create designs that please and engage people. It's great when your life's work is also what you love to do.

Since moving here two years ago, I've come to see that the abundant beauty of Hawaii issues a powerful call to artists that cannot be ignored. I am truly excited by the richness of the art scene here.

I was surprised and ecstatic to win the Norwegian Cruise Line's "Pride of Aloha" design competition. It's what any designer strives for. The competition was a terrific idea, and I'm so glad that NCL decided to open it up to all Hawaii-based designers. Inclusiveness is so important, especially here where we have such a strong cultural base. Hawaii is really like no other place in the world, and we need to celebrate its uniqueness whenever possible.

I have designed large-scale projects before, such as outdoor advertising, but never anything as enormous as a cruise ship. I can't wait to see "my" ship come into Honolulu Harbor. I love the idea that Norwegian Cruise Lines' entry into Hawaii signals the return of those golden "Boat Days," and am optimistic that it will give our local businesses a welcome boost.

My design was inspired by the history of tourism to Hawaii, which begins with the great age of cruising. Boat Days were a cause of islandwide celebration whenever a ship entered the harbor, bringing the lei sellers to the docks to greet the visitors. That is the true spirit of aloha, which means both "hello" and "goodbye," and this made the powerful symbolism of the lei clearly appropriate to me. When those cruise ship passengers left the harbor, they would throw their leis into the water in hopes of returning one day. I wanted the ship to look as if it had caught up some of those leis, which flow back across the hull and festoon the stern. It's as if the ship is saying "aloha" to everyone from across the water.

I appreciate that Hawaii is a place apart from the rest of the world, and hope that all companies and organizations realize how important it is to "keep it Hawaii" when it comes to promoting and marketing our own piece of heaven on earth. I intend to remain available for design consultation myself, and hope that the awareness engendered by this award will enable me to assist other firms with their promotion and design efforts.

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