Optimist has been putting in solid, clean, consistent work in multiple cities on multiple continents, for the last ten years plus. He has crisp letters, nice color combinations, and a hand style that is one of the best in the business. Like a lot of writers he is constantly creating and has been making fine art lately as well. This work deals with materialism and complex societal issues, as well as collaborations with some really dope bay area writers. Keep an eye this guys work. He is doing some really good things, both inside and out. —Ronnie Wrest/The Citrus Report
Give us some basics. Where are you from? What do you write? What is your drink of choice?
I was born in SF. Moved to Oakland when I was like 8 or some shit, then moved back to Frisco when I was 19, then moved to Taiwan when I was 24 then moved back to the states when I was 27 now im in the town again. I write optimist de pop. Drink of choice would have to be a Sierra Nevada pale ale with a lemon in it. Or some Bing Bing juice. It’s my own made up drink. Its iced soju or sake green tea and lemon. Hella good on a hot day. Sounds like a girl’s drink but its bomb.
Are you normally pretty positive or did you just want to take on a crazy long name?
Ha. No I think Im a pessimist at heart but I try to stay positive so I think that writing optimist everywhere kinda subconsciously helps me stay more positive in life cus right now there are a lot of things going on in the world that are pretty depressing. And I like writing long names its more fun and you can do more with it.
How long have you been painting?
Been doing the graff thing for around 12 or 13 years now, don’t see myself stopping any time soon unless the world gets really fucked up but in that case I can see myself doing more graffiti cus I feel like when everything is falling apart people are not going to trip off graffiti, they are going to have more important things to worry about like food and water and shelter. So I think that will open up a lot of opportunities for writers in the coming age of the 6th mass extinction. I have only been painting with a brush and trying to crack this fine art game for around 7 years. But have been drawing and shit since I was a little kid.
A lot of your work seems really personal. Is there anything specific you want your work to communicate?
As far as fine art my work right now is not very personal, its all about materialism and capitalism destroying our planet and the side effects from that. I think I went through a phase in life where all my fine art was personal because I was subconsciously trying to work through some shit. Like issues I had with my family and myself. But I feel like Im passed that and enjoy moving on to more important subject matters then myself. My graff is personal. I think everybody’s graff is personal. Shit. Im writing my name on the wall. Thats pretty personal. Graffiti helps me keep an open flow of creativity in my life cus its so raw and expressive. Like when im stuck at the studio working on some shit and I get bored or feel like im not getting anywhere I always go out and do graffiti by myself or with a hommie. Cus there is not much thought involved besides not getting caught and making it look good. Its like whatever happens happens and when its done its done and then its gonna get buffed and its over.
There is no pressure with graff.unlike fine art. Sometimes I feel like graffiti doesn’t matter because it’s so expendable and impermanent and I like that. And fine art matters more??? Cus its for sale??? No. But it matters more cus its going to last longer and it takes way more time and thought.
Your delivery truck paintings really bring a cool play on illegal work to your canvas. Do you think there is a place for graffiti inside of the gallery?
Yes and no. I think there is a place for “graffiti style art” in galleries, but not raw graffiti. If people actually start paying thousands of dollars for graffiti in galleries I will be shocked and somewhat pissed off. I like the fact that graffiti is not for sale, and it’s always attached to somebody else property. So if you wanted to buy it you would have to buy the whole building. Graffiti inside a gallery is not really graffiti to me. Cus it’s not illegal and it’s for sale. Graffiti has got its foot in the door in the fine art world these days more then ever before. There is so much graffiti influenced art out there selling for dumb paper. And alot of these people making this art never really got into the graff game. They went to art school and met some writers and started writing for a few years. Then finished school and became some fine artist doing characters and hella back outlined shit on canvass and using spray paint and what not but never really played a part in the graff game. Never contributed to the culture. And now they are getting paid off the culture.
But there are also a bunch of people who actually paid their dues to graffiti and put in major work over the past 10 -20 years and just now are they becoming known to the rest of the world. Or should I say the art world.
The Internet has really played a huge role in how graffiti has evolved in the last 10 plus years. Has this been a good or a bad thing in your opinion?
Oh shit. The Internet. Wow. It really has changed the game. It linked the whole world on some graffiti shit. Now you can know who is doing what in any major city in the world and probably find these people as well. The internet has fueled the flame under graffiti and now its on fire burning world wide. This is a good thing and a bad thing. Its good cus one could probably go online and surf around on some graff or picture sites and find out whos who in what city and contact them and then fly out there and meet up with them and then become friends with them (only cus we both write) then paint with them. Then come home. I say this cus I have done this before. It was a trip. Like you could have fans thousands of miles away these days when 10 years ago they only people who knew about you and your little graffiti world were the kids in your city or your state and maybe some cats in some other states if your doing it real big. Now everybody knows everybody. Its bad cus everybody knows everybody. There is too much information on the internet about graffiti, I really don’t know the extent to which the government can track or crack any activities on the world wide web but its all pretty scary when you think about how much info is out there. If the internet did one thing to graffiti, It blew it up.
What have you been working on lately?
Lately I have been working on a solo show in Oakland ca. Im thinking of titling it man animal and machine. Im working on 8- 10 compositions on brown butcher paper about man animals and machines all fighting for existence on planet earth. And some smaller less complicated drawings on the same subject.
Do you have any shows coming up?
Yeah the one at Old Crow October 8th and a truck show coming to 1 am gallery in SF in January of 2012 (if the world don’t end) and another show at 1 am in October 2012. And im sure there will be some in between.
Two artists/writers to look out for this year…
Amuse DE from Chicago, Pemex, Marcus Murray, Payday, Hyde, Leon Loucheur, Ian Hill, David Jien, Lil Zen Ten, Saym from Taipei, and your boy.
Follow Optimists work at http://timtheoptimist.tumblr.com/
Optimist’s Man Animal and The Machines. Solo show at OLD CROW GALLERY OCT 8th. Oakland CA. 94610.
From The Citrus Report