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my latest project... guerrilla tiki..
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Aug 22, 2016
Posts: 796
From: Colorado (via Iowa)
Posted: 2018-01-31 9:26 pm   Permalink

This deserves a bump. I can’t carve, but it makes me want to get out there and, as Sven said, “do tiki” somehow. I wish all the thread’s pictures had been preserved, but there are some shots of Jeff’s work in this video first linked on page 4:



On 2014-09-25 15:01, Hakalugi wrote:
In the news:

"Tampa’s surf soul tiki artist gone rogue":


And that link is now bad, but I was able to find the article here:


Tampa’s surf soul tiki artist gone rogue
By Ashley Whitney, September 24, 2014

Today, at what he considers one of Tampa’s Cuban cultural and historical epicenters, Tampa native and local Surf Soul Tiki artist Jeff Chouinard told the story of how he fell in love with carving tikis and why he has decided to transform dead and forgotten palm trees into pieces of art for the community to enjoy.

After having spent 13 years repossessing cars and running the recovery and collections department for a finance company (which he says was “raping people of their money for corporate America”), he was tired of what he was doing and decided to leave that career. As a lifelong surfer and Polynesian enthusiast, he wanted to enjoy handcrafted Tikis in his home.

When he realized he couldn’t afford to buy Tikis, he decided to make one himself. He said to himself, “It's wood and tools. I can do this. I used to build furniture in the basement with my dad, and I've built hot rods.” He went down to Harbor Freight, bought $50 worth of cheap tools and wood, borrowed a chainsaw, and made his first Tiki. He said he fell in love and started making them constantly.

That was five years ago. Since then he estimates he's made between 500 and 600 tikis. Now he's started a whole new project. He made phone calls to city of Tampa officials to find out about the many lone dead palm trees he has seen around town over the last few years. He says they didn’t respond or seem very interested. What became his deciding principle was the old saying, “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.”

The rogue tiki operation was going well until Tuesday. While carving his eighth tiki he was stopped by a police officer. He provided the officer with a photo proving the tree was in fact dead before he began carving. The police officer was very nice, but told him that he was going to submit his information to the city and the Department of Parks and Rec. Chouinard says he already has an attorney ready to defend him and any fines he may incur. For his next rogue tiki carvings, he says,“If you’ve ever read The Art of War, I don't know the exact Sun Tzu quote... but it's basically that a moving target is harder to hit.”

Feedback from the community has been very positive so far. He says their only concern is that the trees are in fact dead. As soon as he assured interested parties that he's only carving dead trees, everyone was on board. He said that when Creative Loafing’s Todd Bates came by to do a photo shoot for this story, “There must have been 50 people that honked and slowed down in support.”
Chouinard explains the history of tiki enthusiasts. He says it is essentially a lifestyle of escapism — that beyond the mundane and meaningless confines of cubicle confinement, “a lot of people look at the island sort of existence as something they wish they could have. It's the sort of simplicity of that existence that inspires them."

His entire yard and front porch have become his workshop and what looks like a tiki garden. There are piles of wood shavings everywhere. His yard is still very welcoming; it is filled with flowering plumeria trees and hibiscus bushes, and of course driftwood and tikis, both finished pieces and works in progress.

After just two years of teaching himself how to carve and with no instruction, he was approached by two world-famous tiki artists, Benzart Davis and Will Anders of South Florida. Both have become his mentors. “They are the best guys in the game; those are the guys I call when I need help,” he says.

His greatest inspiration for Polynesian culture stems from his grandfather, the only living plank holder from the most decorated ship in naval history, the USS Nicholas. “We were once talking about the whole phenomenon of what happened after WWII when all the GI’s came back.” His grandfather said a lot of them served on beautiful South Pacific Islands adorned with tikis.

He thinks that GI's, having endured daily near-death experiences, returned to the States hardened and easily bored. “They came back to their boring, mundane lives. Thus, the emergence of the Hot Rod and motorcycle movement was founded, as well as the recreation of South Pacific Island culture. Tiki restaurants were everywhere back then.” He says that during the Vietnam War the aesthetic appeal of the Polynesian lifestyle disappeared, but he believes that there's been a resurgence of interest.

As for the Rogue Tiki Project, he says he plans to take it statewide. “I'm going to be taking my little chainsaw, which I have named 'Little Precious,' with me everywhere I go.” He hopes to do some pieces in Cocoa Beach and Fort Lauderdale next time he goes surfing. He already has people in California interested in having him carve there.
Aside from being an artist, Jeff Chouinard has given back to the community through several fundraising and charity events. He's donated pieces and raised money for Hooked on Hope, the Brandon Charity Foundation, and many silent auctions. Most recently he held a fundraiser for a friend who is undergoing chemotherapy. He raised $2,000 selling his artwork for that event. He also volunteers every summer at a camp called Faces of Courage. One of his most notable achievements is that one of his pieces was put on display this year, at the famous tiki restaurant and bar The Mai-Kai, in Fort Lauderdale.

You can find his rogue tikis at Al Lopez park, as well as on Davis Islands and around Riverside Heights. Keep your eyes open when driving around town. Every tiki is unique and completely different from the last.

Anybody know if the carvings mentioned in the last paragraph are still standing?

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 03, 2004
Posts: 1989
From: Omao, Kauai
Posted: 2018-02-01 8:05 pm   Permalink

What a great article!! Thanks Hamo for reposting it, I did not see it when it was first posted a couple years ago.

Me on facebook

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 22, 2011
Posts: 143
Posted: 2018-07-09 8:29 pm   Permalink

Just keep in mind: Jeff Chouinard is a thief. He stopped posting here after ripping me off.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 03, 2007
Posts: 1243
From: Melbourne,Australia
Posted: 2018-07-09 11:37 pm   Permalink


On 2018-07-09 20:29, Greg_D_R wrote:
Just keep in mind: Jeff Chouinard is a thief. He stopped posting here after ripping me off.

Are you on Facebook Greg? There was a post from someone about a month ago in one of the Tiki groups who had been ripped off by him also and then a LOT of people spoke up who he had done it to as well.
Apparently since then he has been in contact with a few people but it remains to be seen how many will either get the carving they asked for or their money back.

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Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Nov 26, 2005
Posts: 5012
Posted: 2018-07-10 04:31 am   Permalink

Well the guerrilla tiki thing was a cool idea.

AND when I posted...
"Did you carve more?"
Are you in Jail?

Do you need bail?"

I was joking about the cops jailing Jeff for carving the tiki without permission not about any rips offs Jeff may have done as I never heard of any.

The best plan is to never pay money until the work or thing you are buying is done or in your hand, I have only had a problem once when a guy said he paid me already Ha!
He got me that time, but I lost what I thought was a friend.

Lastly Jeff left at the time that new guy came to TC and everybody went goo goo crazy over the carvings this new guy was doing while Jeff's posts went with little feedback.
I always thought that was the reason Jeff left TC, And Jeff helped teach the guy to carve!
This may or may not be the reason Jeff left I don't know for sure.

But a lot of people have left for this reason I have seen over the years.

After a blizzard of posts for about a year the new guy is gone too.

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