In philosophical ethos, Erik Otto and Style.No.Chaser are kinfolk. We share the same visceral desire to create, share and underscore the profound beauty of life. Erik lives his life in the service of others. His art is a proactive manifestation of his existence and he strives to offer his desires and fears as an example of that pure (and true) freedom that we all seek. Erik’s obsession with circular symbolism is proof of his innate gravitational pull towards the eternal characteristics of art – creativity is undying and it will last forever – perpetually reshaping and feeding thought. Art has no discernable half-life and Erik Otto’s work is sober proof of this.
As luck would have it, Erik is showing his work this Thursday 9/15/2016, 6-8pm at The Yard Williamsburg (33 Nassau Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11222). Stop by and witness his amazing works firsthand. More info can be found here:www.SilenceIsAccurate.com/experiences
"The human eye detects more tonal range in blue more than any other color. There are so many different kinds of ..."
Please tell us a little about yourself – your childhood, siblings, where you grew up, what you liked as a child, strange thoughts as a child/now, unique attributes, where you live now, etc.?
I grew up in the South Bay Area on the border of Milpitas and San Jose. It was early Silicon Valley days and San Jose was a sleeping giant of creativity and trouble to get into. I would BMX everywhere and trespassing was my thing. I couldn’t resist going where I was not suppose to and I would discover huge stretches of undeveloped or abandoned areas of the city that I would explore for hours. I liked to learn new things, but as much as I was into the normal ways of learning, something about exploring the fringes of society became a habit of mine. Deep down inside I always felt I was a little different and I was not afraid to embrace that. I was filled with energy and took up many avenues of self-expression with or without parental approval and somehow didn’t break too many bones from all the wild shit I used to do.
Currently I live in San Francisco and only had a single temp job when I first moved up. Since then, I have somehow survived over 10 years as an independent creative doing what I can with what I have.
How do you describe your form of art and what tools do you primarily use?
Two-dimensionally, I make abstract landscapes with an open list of mixed media to allow for experimentation and I feel like my tools are a split between a hardware store and an art store. It’s probably obvious, but I have an obsession with the circular form and use it to translate ongoing messages surrounding balance and flow both on and off the canvas. Three-dimensionally, I take it one step further and create sculptures and immersive environments inspired by this alternate reality.
What does your art mean to you?
Inspiration for curiosity. An open exchange. A culmination of fears and desires. A beautiful chaos.
Your images are cerebral and abstract and we feel there is also some symbolism embedded in there - how did you come up with this unique style and why are you pulled to create images of this manner?
The idea of making art came about pretty naturally for me. Since the beginning it was something I did mostly privately for my own personal growth. It was my way of understanding and reacting to things I experienced during my formative years. If you put in the hours and dedicate years to a practice that requires being alone, you start to really learn who you really are — good and bad. The process to me takes on a spiritual journey and much of my work is a visual depiction of the fears and desires that come about as I live each day on a path of becoming a better self than the day before.
What is the worst critique you have ever received about your work? What is the best compliment that you have received about your work?
That my work looks like I am still trying to figure things out. Or funniest would be…it looks like spaghetti. Every now and then, all the hard work feels less stressful when someone out of nowhere tells you how much you work has helped their life in a very real way. I have been fortunate enough to experience a lot of great moments through the pursuit of an art career, but those moments are pretty special.
Do you ever experience deja vu – where are you usually transported to when it happens?
Sort of. Something more common for me is dreaming about something super normal and thinking it already happened. If when I am going about my day and I feel like I have done it before, it simply reminds me I’m on the right path.
Since Style.No.Chaser is a men’s lifestyle magazine, what attributes/items/clothing /etc. do you think define a man?
Much like a man’s hands, the shoes say a lot. What style, color, materials and condition they are in. To me, they complete the outfit. I’m far from being one that likes to collect material possessions, but if there is anything I always want more of, it’s shoes.
Tell us a little about your tattoos? Which one means the most to you?
Left arm was first and was completed over the course of a few trips to Hawaii by my friend at Soul Signature. I started it immediately after I graduated and it reminds of the very fresh times I had at the start of relocating my life to SF. The right arm was done by a different friend I made while living in SF who worked at Skull & Sword. It has script that says “Every Day is New” — a motto that helps when the day prior was a difficult one.
What is your personal life philosophy?
To always be prepared. And when the time comes…see it, feel it, do it.
What is your favorite color and why?
Light Blue-Green. It has a calming effect much like looking off into a tropical ocean. The human eye detects more tonal range in blue more than any other color. There are so many different kinds of blue and although I don’t wear it, I find myself attracted to its emotional appeal when used in a painting. I am also often contrasting it with vivid oranges and reds to make the effect even more pronounced.
What other profession would you attempt if you were not an artist?
I would probably translate my experiences to some form of Art Direction related job for a project/company I admire. I really can’t see myself not doing something creative for a living. I am a natural born giver and problem solver, so the only other life for me would be to move to some small town or village and help contribute to the community there.
Who dead or alive, celebrity or not, artist or not, would you like to go on a two-week road trip with and why?
My dad. Road trips are the best for long conversations and growing up my dad was always so busy making sure the bills were paid and food was on the table. He has done and still does so much for my family and never expects a thanks in return. He’s a workaholic and I got that from my him. I would rather work than relax on a beach somewhere and it’s because of our similar quirk we never seem to have enough time to slow down and just talk. Recently, my dad experienced a traumatic moment in his life and its made the entire family reanalyze how we spend our time. I don’t want to regret not spending enough time together when things were good.
What type of music do you listen to (if at all) when working?
I play the drums and percussion so I am drawn to instrumental music with a good beat. I am open to all genres, but some of my favorites are Old School Hip Hop, Minimal House, and most Afro-Latin music. As much as I like making my own soundtrack to my life, selecting music can be distracting and I sometimes work in complete silence and let the thoughts trail off into the distance.
How can people learn more about (or buy) your current and upcoming works?
I do my best to let people know what I am doing across all online platforms, but I always recommend people to sign up for my newsletter located on my website (www.erikotto.com). It is there that I give advance notice to upcoming shows and print releases along with current project updates. Also on Instagram (@erikotto) for the more personal and frequent happenings.
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