A wonderful retro to contemporary “poster” by H. Caldwell Turner for CollegeHumor. Even though the obvious “we are all on the Internet and it sucks thing” is getting a little overblown, we definitely enjoy this poster.
From The Citrus Report
Oh, why did you move to the countryside so you could avoid the world, and electricity, and running water, and the Internet, and anything that has to do with the cut n’paste, collage culture that we know live in that we call post-supermodernity aka the end of the world? It was this video you say…
From The Citrus Report
Just a little something we passed by near the Williamsburg Bridge this weekend. We don’t mind seeing a Swampy piece on the East Coast, and even though we had seen this one a few times it seems on Flickr or around the Internet, this is just a nice clean, untouched piece on a side-street in the middle of Williamsburg. With the NYC Marathon going off a few blocks away, we got pushed down by the water, and caught it…
From The Citrus Report
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
What everyone really wants to know… is what you eat for breakfast?
Coca Cola Classic.
You came up painting in the good old days before instant fame and gratification of the internet. How long have you been painting and what all has changed during your career?
When I came up you had to make graff a job. You had to hit major streets with multiple tags and fillins. I remember tagging on every paper machine on market like 3 tags on each side with mops. I would go out with tons of mops and paint and not come back until it was all gone. We use to do like 20 tags on each block and I was a kid coming up with older better writers. They took me under their wing and taught me the basics and i rolled with it. You honestly had to go out every night for months at a time and hit good spots that people would talk about and then your name and street cred would spread. I think I have been painting like 19 years or more and I have seen my share of changes, mostly when the graff mags hit and now the internet wave. The time and effort is no longer needed to most people when you can build a web site of your name and do 10 peices in all different styles with fancy paint and you get famous. You can blog your whole career and never do shit. I know people with big names that have done this shit. I think its time the people who have been around for years going to jail for graff and pouring tons of their soul into something so pointless should get some fucking credit. We risk everything just to get that tag up. When we know it might get buffed the next day. We wasted our lives to put letters that mean nothing on a train or some surface….
I can’t believe it’s for nothing… You have to enjoy the act of it or seeing that train roll by 2 or 3 or 10 years later?
Its crazy you work all these years to build a name and when you get the fame and everything you wanted it all comes with other bad stuff like people making fake stories up about you and trying to smut your name up so they can get attention. I guess its cool to see old freights going by. It brings back memories of a better time. When they go by you remember the night and what happen and who you were with. Each one has a secret story behind them that only you know. People don’t understand what it takes to do the things we do. I really don’t care about graff and trains like I said its more of what I went through to do it than the finished product. I hate all of my old stuff so most times I close my eyes when old ones go by….
What brought about the abstraction in your graffiti a few years back?
I had lots of people nibbling on the previous styles and I feel like my stuff just morphed into what ever it is now. I didn’t pick a day and say i will change my stuff on that date. I also felt bored and not challenged. My style of pieces formed from trying to do a style to cover up nasty graff on toyed out trains… in the dark. That explains the white I like to use and the stretched out letters, I wanted to cover space.
You started sharing your canvases on flickr a few months back. You obviously did not just start painting them; did something push you to put them out there?
I have been painting art for years i started doing that style when I was 13 in art class and I have sold a bunch to people that didnt know about graff , but liked my art. I showed a few to some friends and they said that people were probably ready to see them now. They were saying they would be more acceptable now that everyone likes abstract stuff. I posted a few unwillingly and 5 sold the first day. After that I have been posting a few a month and selling them.
While your canvas work is abstract it is really different from your graffiti in many ways. Do the two have an influence on one another?
I think they are two different passions of mine that stem from two different worlds. I don’t want to sell graff like I don’t want to draw some graff peice on a canvas and call it art cause its not. I will do a tag on them sometimes because people want a tag and to sell a painting I sometimes do that. I want my art to be art, not some stupid graffiti. I can explain it… I have like 5 different personalities. One is a graff writer, a fisherman, a criminal, and a family man. I cant figure it out… oh and a furniture hustler…
Which one is painting all your canvases?
Its the art fag oh I forgot to mention him.
I see similarities to many different styles of abstraction in your canvases. Have you had influence from Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painting?
I don’t look at art man. I just paint what comes out. I have no influences in my art work. I don’t type abstract painting into google and paint the same shit i see. I just fucking paint. I am not a college graduate, I cant spell that great, I didn’t go to art school or get a art kit from academy of the arts, ha, it’s just in my blood to be creative no matter what I do. I’m not very knowledgeable on artists and I’m not some art snob. I don’t care about it i just do it. Just like graff, I just do what i see in my mind and i try and take whats floating around at the time and put it on canvas. I also collect and sell expensive furniture from the mid 20th century. That may have some effect on my brain when im painting. I think if your around good stuff you will probably do something cool. Like hanging with rich people you probably will get rich. Im influenced by lots of architecture and buildings and interior design… but I’m not gay.
How did you get into the furniture thing?
About 10 years ago I was driving in Oregon and I saw a cool chair along the side of the road I stopped and grabbed it because I liked the shape. Then I did some research on it later and found someone famous designed it and I sold it for like a thousand dollars. After that I started doing it non stop and going hard. I cant reveal all my secrets to get this stuff but I have like 10 tricks up my sleeve and all of them work sometimes.
Who are a couple artists that influence you?
All Artists & Creators… Milo Baughman, T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, Hans Wegner, Gio Ponti, Tommi Parzinger, Edward Wormley, Andre Arbus, George Nakashima, Jacques Adnet, Jean-Michel Frank, Maison Jansen, Venini, Mies Van Der Rohe,, George Nelson, Karl Springer, Paul Evans, Eames (Ray and Charles), James Mont, Vladimir Kagan, Paul Frankl, Harry Bertoia, Harvey Probber, Jean Royère, Poul Kjaerholm, Jules Leleu, Tony Duquette, Paul Laszlo, William Haines, Jacques Emile, Ruhlmann, Felix Agostini, Walter Lamb, Edgar Brandt, Carlo Mollino, Gino Sarfatti, Gabriella Crespi, Gilbert Poillerat, Pierre Chareau, Poul Henningsen, Samuel Marx, Maria Pergay, Michel Boyer, Marc Duplantier, Paul Dupre-Lafon, Raymond Subes, Jacques Quinet, Florence Knoll, Eero Saarinen, Ico Parisi, Charlotte Perriand, Tétard Freres, Jean-Michel Wilmotte, Robert Crowder, Antoine Schapira, William Conklin, Le Clerc, William B. Durgin, Warren Platner, Torbjorn Afdal, James Prestini, Massimo Vignelli, Jacques Martin-Ferrieres, Louis O. Pearson, Eero Saarinen, and Jorge Zalszupin
You have been painting graffiti for almost 20 years. What do you think has allowed you to have this kind of longevity?
I guess just being consistant and not being afraid to try new stuff when you see people making a trend of something. I can always switch up to something new or something crazy to try and have an impact again and again. I stay true to myself and do this for me and for fun. I don’t care about people and what they think and I’m a fucking nut. I should have stopped years ago or never started painting at all. Its just honestly out of stupidity. Anyone with brains would never paint graff for this long for no return..fuck it though… its to late now.
Will we get to see any of your canvases in a gallery anytime soon?
When I was only 16 I think I had like 3 art shows under my belt already. After that I went on a wild ride and now I’m back doing art hard now, so I hope some galleries will holler at me and understand who I am and what im trying to do and what I have done already. I’m selling my art, so I know a professional can do a way better job… I just wont hang out with idiots and kiss ass to get an art show. I’m not going to beg, but I think I deserve it and all my friends are famous off of this. I’m the only one that never sold out. Theres some really bad art in galleries because they kiss peoples asses and use everyone to get art shows just to be a artist. I know who I am so I don’t care what happens… I leave it in your hands.
So are these paintings going to be something you will be focusing most of your energy on right now?
I’m painting a ton lately but have been painting art sence I was 13 years old, so I’m not new to the art game and I have been around art and artists my entire life. My mom designs fabrics and is an interior designer. My grandma is a oil painter, my cousin Tyler does lithos and teaches art. I grew up with people like Barry Mcgee, Josh Lazcano, Rem, Margret rip, Sam Flores, Sope rip, Felon, Jase, Dave Schubert, Grey pvc, etc… I had art shows when i was like 16 but I was to young to capitalize on art. I didn’t know shit and I thought art was gay and I was selling out. I still think I’m selling out but I guess theres a time for everything. I may have waited to long and I have missed the curve I think, but maybe it will be my time now. I sit here waiting for a bone to be thrown at me but it dosnt happen so I have to paint alot and take it into my own hands and do stuff for my self but use my connections and friends I have made over they years…..”time will tell”…
From The Citrus Report