We love following and supporting the work of up and coming designers from the Pacific, and that’s how we found UrbanNesian and their amazing work – created and designed to match the identity of a young Samoan woman raised in America, who combined her talent of art and design with graphic design. We’re excited to share a snippet of her beautiful work and a part of Lainee Fagafa’s story. 

Tell us a bit about yourself, the work that you do, and how you came to follow that path?

Malo. I’m Lainee Fagafa, a Graphic Designer and owner of UrbanNesian. I’m also a Samoan with a major obsession for Siapo, Tapa, Masi and Ngatu. As a designer, I’d say my specialty is in Polynesian design with an emphasis on Samoan motifs and siapo.

Born in Hawai’i, I was raised between my beautiful Island home and Texas. I definitely had the best of both worlds, growing up Fa’a Samoa with a touch of Western influence. After high school, I went on to graduate from Angelo State University in Texas, in what feels like many moons ago. At the moment, I currently live in Hawai’i and along with UrbanNesian, work as a Communications Coordinator for a prominent private country club.

I’m not sure I had a dream when it came to UrbanNesian, it was more of an identity that I could relate to. Being raised Fa’a Samoa in America, I found that many of us are influenced by western culture, however, we still find ourselves rooted in our own culture by the way we’re brought up. From this, UrbanNesian was formed; Urban but True to the Roots. Not only is it my design style, but a life style that I think many people can relate to.


What were the biggest challenges in your journey as a student?

When I entered college, I had every intention to go to Law school and become a lawyer and ultimately a judge.

Through my studies, I came to know more about art, and realised I was so fresh to anything art related – I’d never taken any type of art class, and had never used Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign. I didn’t even know how to use a Mac or hold a drawing pencil properly.

It was a massive learning curve that consisted of me spending many hours out of class almost every day to learn, progress, perfect.

Samoan and Fijian_Talanoa

What motivated you to push forward with what you were passionate about?

My passion for design motivated me the most. Also, I’ve always had a strong desire to do better and revamp my style to perfect my art. The constant need to improve has always pushed me forward.

Along with that, it’s also about enjoying what I do, and what I create. I love learning and bridging modern technology like graphic design to our Polynesian peoples’ traditional designs.


What advice do you have for young Pacific people who might be thinking of studying or pursing something they’re passionate about?

In this day and age the internet and social media has made it easy to be up to date on what others are doing and how they create.

The best thing to do is to stay in your own lane, or create one. You don’t have to do anything that’s similar to what others do. Invent your own style of work, and learn to invent your own identity.


We’d like to thank Lainee from UrbanNesian for sharing a part of her story with us. To follow or purchase her work, you can find UrbanNesian on Instagram or via their website