Optimism Straight Outta NYC
BSA doesn’t spotlight too much graffiti because we’re not very smart about it, and there are a lot of geniuses on graff out there. Plus the S-A part of our name precludes much BS on the graff tip. But some artists straddle the edge of graff and Street Art, and one artist who keeps catching our eye because of his placement and the light-hearted comedic quality of his character is Optimo, sometimes referred to as Werds (depending where you are surfing).
Optimo. Werds (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Short for Optimo Primo (best cousin), the graffiti artist Optimo grew up as a boy in Chelsea in the 1980s excited and ignited by the colorful graffiti he saw on trucks and trains around him. As a true original New Yorker, he names some of his stylistic influences as 1990s graffiti writers including Wolf1, Revs & Cost, Seen, Reas, and Sabe. His signature character has been on the streets since 2006, the American flag bandana as a symbol of free expression and the First Amendment, and the showman top hat something the artist likes to wear as well.
Now a full time artist selling his stuff on the streets of Soho, Optimo has showed his work in a gallery setting with a 40-piece show at Revolution Studios in Chelsea last summer and in a group show at Brooklyn Fire Proof in Bushwick as well as Culture Fix on the LES in the fall. His soft spot is box trucks, which he says he’s painted over 100 of, according to his bio on Tumblr, and he aspires to retain his signature style of “optimism”. Here is a BSA collection of images of work in New York and Miami by Optimo NYC.