Optimist

He didn’t choose the name Optimist for no reason, his pieces really brings a positive feeling. Always with a humorous one-liner that seem thought up in the moment yet fits so well with the work. Optimist says, graffiti is the ultimate escape from problems but sometimes he gets so wrapped up in it he becomes nocturnal. An unhealthy cycle he feels consumes too much of his life.

How old are you and where do you come from?
I’m 26 years old. I was born in San Francisco, raised in Oakland and moved back to the city when I was 18. But i’m also Irish. I go there all the time to visit family and friends.

When and why did you start writing?
Probably when I was in 7th grade in Oakland. I would see graffiti on the desks at school and they would move all the desks around throughout the whole school. So sometimes I would see the same desk rotating classrooms and I thought that was cool and wondered if I wrote my name on a desk in science class I would see it again in some other class. So I tried it out and soon enough I saw that same desk again and that shit amazed me for some reason. Then I started writing my name on the desk in every class.

I started noticing graffiti on the buses on my way home from school and all over Oakland and the city. It was everywhere back then. Ever since then I haven’t been able to quit. its become a part of my personality. As a kid I would go to the yards in Oakland and look at all the burners and productions and wonder how the hell they did that shit, I wanted to do that too.

What was the scene like when you first got in contact with graffiti?
Amazing! People were killing it, Oakland Berkley and San Francisco were smashed.
It was hella inspiring even though I was not painting like them. I was hella young and was just taggin in the cuts and my mom was always paging me to come home so I didn’t really starting to get up until I moved out when i was 17 in 1999-2000. But back then you could get away with a lot more and I feel like graffiti was way more out of control back then. Spots were not played out and the paint was better. (not including Montana).Graffiti was more like a secret then it is now. There was no Internet and the only way you could see graffiti was if you went out and looked for it.

There was no way of knowing who was who unless you went to different cities. I only knew what was going on in the bay, and some New york history, that’s it. There were no graffiti stores, no movies, no pens made for graffiti, it was a secret and the only way you could learn about it was if somebody decided to teach you and let you in on the secret. Now it’s all blown up and almost commercialized, and its STILL ILLEGAL! That’s funny, it’s like weed, Hah!

You often write “heart dad” on your pieces, whats the story behind that?
My dad died. He was a major influence in my life, and I miss him a lot.

I’ve seen a lot of block letter pieces from you but you also have a sick wildstyle.
Do you prefer simples over colorful wildstyle?

It depends on the spot and my mood. Sometimes I Like to chill out by myself and get lost in a piece, and really think about what I’m doing and the composition itself, and the colors and style and funk. I think its a way to subconsciously work out my problems and vent silently and its the only thing I can paint off the top of my head without a sketch or a picture as a reference.

I do a lot of fine art during the day, in fact that’s all I really do during the day, and with fine art I use a lot of photography in my work, also tape, rulers t-squares, found objects, random pieces of paper and other tools. Everything is planed out in advance and carefully constructed. When I paint a piece, its all spontaneous, nothing is really planned except for colors. I cant do that with fine art. That’s why I love piecing so much, Its my only way to freely express myself at that point in time in life.

Other times I just want to paint something really legible and big and simple. and not really think, just paint and get my mind off the future and the past, it keeps me in the present moment and it doesn’t take as long as a piece. Plus I know everybody can read it, even normal civilian people, and i know that it might cheer them up cus it says some positive ass shit, feel me? How can you hate on optimism?

What other writers has been the most influent for your own development?
A lot of people, DREAM(rip), LEWSE, JAPAN, DRAMA, FIERCE, KRASH, KING157, CHEK, UDON, PLANTREES, AIDER, YEOL, BEATS, ELSE.

What crews and writers are you down with?
I’m in DE crew. and my crew IVP(4 pillars).
I’m down with all the writers I paint with, too many to mention.

Ever got caught?
Yes, that’s some shit I don’t like to talk about. I have been caught enough, put it that way.

Got any advice for the new upcoming writers?
your going to get caught. Don’t snitch and don’t stop. Shit is bound to happen.
And really think about why your doing graffiti, and choose your name very carefully,
write something that means something to you.

Any final words?
Travel.

Interview courtesy www.graffiticreator.net

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July 12, 2009 Music