Lauren Trangmar’s New Illustration Series Breaks Down the Anatomy of Local Favorites

Scientific illustrations of musubi, slippers and more make for fun posters.

Editor’s Note: Through our partnership with the Hawai‘i State Art Museum, HONOLULU Magazine publishes a monthly blog written by Lisa Shiroma, owner of the HiSAM Museum Gallery Shop.

  Saimin print

Images of art: Courtesy of Lauren Trangmar


The anatomy of a Spam musubi—or Mysterious Meatus en Riso, as artist and UH grad Lauren Trangmar calls the snack in her new series of illustrations—takes a scientific approach to an everyday item. That’s part of the fun for Trangmar, who moved to Hawai‘i from New Zealand eight years ago to live with her grandmother after devastating earthquakes in Christchurch caused the building where she worked to partially collapse. Her grandmother taught her everything she knows about local culture, which Trangmar translated into prints that are now for sale at the HiSAM Museum Gallery Shop x Mori by Art + Flea.


The series, called Da Kine, deconstructs local favorites—such as shave ice, saimin and manapua—and delves into their origins. “I combine meticulous, labor-intensive, traditional processes and aesthetics with contemporary technologies to create surreal imagery,” Trangmar says. She works in a range of media that includes graphic design, illustration, digital imaging, traditional printmaking, painting and sculpture to create surprising works, such as the anatomy of a rubber slipper (scientific name Rubbah Slippah).


rubbah slippah print


You may recognize her work from the 2015 Artists of Hawai‘i exhibition at the Honolulu Museum of Art, where her Lore of Creativity series resembled highly detailed scientific illustrations with seemingly impossible physical combinations. After the exhibition, the museum purchased the series to be part of its contemporary art collection.


Trangmar continues to work in the same style, and last year, she released her medical cannabis illustrations commissioned by Aloha Green Apothecary. Cannabis strain names like “Skywalker Kush,” “Shark Bite” and “Strawberry Cough” are brought to life in detailed diagrams with scientific information. They’re currently on display at The Pig & The Lady in downtown Honolulu.

  Spam musubi


“Themes that are explored in my most current work include the relationship between storytelling, culture, myths and history, art and science, authenticity and artifice and their (re)presentation,” Trangmar says. With each illustration in Da Kine she also gives an intriguing history lesson on the origins of these familiar items. Did you know that shave ice originated in Japan 1,000 years ago in the Heian period? Other fun trivia facts are included with the matted prints.

  Lauren Trangmar

Photo: Michelle Chen, MCM Produced. 


Trangmar’s work is also on view as part of the new 21st Century Women exhibit at the Honolulu Museum of Art, open through Sept. 29. A solo show of her Da Kine series opens July 1 at Ars Café on Monsarrat Avenue. You can also find her at the gallery shop booth at the Best of Honolulu Festival on July 20 at the Honolulu Hale civic grounds.


Matted prints from the Da Kine series are available at the gallery shop for $55 each.


Lisa Shiroma

isa Shiroma is the owner of the HiSAM Museum Gallery Shop and runs it with partners Aly Ishikuni-Sasaki and Travis Sasaki from Mori by Art + Flea.

Lisa worked as gallery manager for Koa Art Gallery at KCC from 2014 to 2017.

In July 2017, Lisa, Travis and Aly renovated and reopened the Hawai‘i State Art Museum’s gift shop space as a new art gallery and gift shop “for Hawai‘i artists, by Hawai‘i artists.”