By Char Ravelo

A Path to positive.

Trysen ‘TK’ Kaneshige is seen here painting a mural. Contributed photo

At the age of 15, Trysen ‘TK’ Kaneshige was an easy-going teen when he discovered the art of lettering and calligraphy at a workshop, and he instantly knew he was meant to be an artist.

Trysen started drawing in middle school, and the workshop changed his life. With the help of the instructor who became his mentor, Trysen opened up a world of creative happiness by developing his natural talent. After seeing how liberating it was to express oneself through art, he wanted to help others experience the same freedom of expression.

He thought about helping the students and his friends at school because opportunities for experimenting with art elements were limited. So, in 2013, Trysen took his thoughtful and insightful senior project from a sketch to a larger-than-life creative form that landed on the side of a two-story building. His idea was an art project tha to help seniors to navigate the uncertainties of what happens after graduation – college or work? Today, an awe-inspiring-beautiful mural “Believe in Your Dreams” inspires every student on many levels, along parents, teachers and visitors of Kauaʻi High School.

Underneath his passion, Trysen was working hard to overcome adversity. The project was mutually beneficial for his personal healing and recovery from a concussion he suffered while playing soccer that year. The brain injury caused headaches which made it very difficult to focus. He became overwhelmed, and it led to depression and suicidal thoughts. During this painfully emotional time, he turned to his art and the belief others had in him to push through.

With pen or paintbrush in hand, Trysen noticed focusing on the details of the design calmed him down. Calligraphy was like meditation that stopped the random thoughts and allowed him to see clearly what was needed to move forward. Guided by advisor Mrs. Aiwohi, and then Principal Mrs. Lindsey, alongside his family, mentors and friends, Trysen come through the darkness and finished his senior project humbled with appreciation for the support.

The Believe in Your Dreams mural and the Spray Away Meth workshop involved many community partners and sponsors to creatively help Kaua‘iʻs youth to become aware of the dangers of meth use.

Trysen ‘TK’ Kaneshige. Contributed photo

This was Trysenʻs first of many leadership roles in collaborative art projects on Kauaʻi, statewide and on the Mainland. The skills he gained by stepping out of his comfort zone to successfully work the back and front end of the projects (advocacy, coordination and logistics) gave him confidence to launch his own graphic design company. Equipped with a college degree in graphic design, a diverse portfolio and a reputation that precedes him, Trysen finds himself busy juggling clients and jobs. He enjoys running the business, meeting with people and helping them with logos, branding and promotional material. Trysen’s gift is creatively putting thoughts to paper in a positive way.

“I listen to music, get into the flow state where time doesn’t exist, and from there my mind stops random thinking and focuses on what feels right. When it is right, I feel it in my heart, feel happy and calm-minded,” Trysen said of his inspiration.

His mentor taught him that “art is from your heart, not always a skill. It’s the passion and motivation of the work that matters most.”

This innovate artist with a passion for the positive is currently working on projects to inspire, encourage others and honor his ancestors. Giving back to his community and those who believe in him, his goals include opportunities to share his knowledge, mentor students and pay it forward.

Trysen’s message today to all of us is:

Keep going!

Stay true to yourself and don’t lose values as you learn to balance the business, jobs and community interests.

Do what you love, don’t lose sight of it, and know you are not alone.

Trysen Kaneshige joined the ranks as a Leadership Kauaʻi alumni in the summer of 2021. Before joining the cohort, Trysen had receive two proclamations for Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. (2016) and Mayor Derek Kawakami (2019) for his inspirational work on Kaua‘i. His LK experience helped him to reach his future goals by being able to challenge the process and step out of his comfort zone in order to grow. His biggest take away was knowing that you’re not alone and the people you surround yourself help you to grow as a person.

Visit to see Tysen’s portfolio.

Visit today to enroll for Leadership Kauaʻi Class of 2023.

  • Char Ravelo is the Executive Director of Leadership Kaua‘i, and can be contacted at or (808) 246-8727.





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