Painting a Nightmare

Inspired by Island ghost stories, this young artist is one to watch.

The faceless woman—as in Edwin Ushiro's "Cut Like When Asakusa Recovered Mujina"—is a classic ghost.

Illustration by Edwin Ushiro

The ghostly images in Maui-raised Edwin Ushiro’s mixed media art tend to haunt your mind—and the pages of our Haunted Hawaii feature.

Only 30, Ushiro has just had his first Los Angeles solo exhibition and, in October, will be featured in a show in Zurich.  

He grew up in Wailuku, where, he says, “As a kid, I saw that lines could represent something that doesn’t yet exist in this world.” By profession a conceptual artist and a visual effects consultant, Ushiro’s fine art features themes recognizable to a Hawaii audience—night marchers or mischievous ghosts called lapu.

“Ghost stories are everywhere in Hawaii,” he says. Having a Japanese mother, he sees himself straddling both cultures. “In Japan, the paranormal is so common in culture and folklore. And Hawaiian culture is like that, too. It’s not like I sit down and try to make an image. It’s a flash of insight; I’ll be taking out the trash or something, and an image is shoved in my brain, and I’ll think, ‘That’s cool.’ Then I sit down and try to replicate it as best I can.”

He calls the ghost tours and obake books by Glen Grant “a major influence” in his art. “He was a living document of all the mythologies of Hawaii.”

To see more of artist Edwin Ushiro’s work, and to read about some of the ghost stories that inspired him, visit