OPTIMO NYC, also known as NO SLEEP! and WERDS (MOK), was born just before the blackout of 1977 in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. Unlike the gallery district we know today, Chelsea streets were desolate and often playgrounds for violence. In his earlier years, Optimo’s passion for art was ignited by the vibrant graffiti dominating the trains and handball courts in the mid-1980s. Living in Chelsea, an area with little development, the artist noticed a range of space to work with and began writing graffiti at the tender age of twelve, tagging under different aliases and painting outlined letters. Optimo continued to work on his different styles, seeking inspiration from cartoons, comics, and a powerful surge of 1990′s graffiti artists. In 2003, after many years of practice, he began selling his custom painted hats and traditional canvases at the Chelsea Flea Market. Optimo began experimenting with painting on recycled NYC street signs and found objects in 2005. For the past three years, Optimo has devoted himself full-time to selling his artwork on the streets of Soho, where he has garnered many international clients.
The artist’s work is greatly inspired by his experiences and his surroundings. Throughout his life, Optimo has developed an intimate relationship with painting, dancing with his mediums and the surfaces of the streets, exploring their every particularity. Painting on public walls allows him to freely showcase his work and empowers him to create his own landmarks throughout the city. The wall has a special significance for Optimo’s art because it lies beyond monetary transactions.The exposure of public wall space is limitless, transcending all boundaries of race and class creating an ideal space for artists to communicate with the general public. This consideration is what brought about Optimo’s signature character, Optimo Primo, who he has been developing since 2006. The character was created after a life changing experience, and represents Optimo’s drive to make insightful decisions in his life and spread positive messages to the world. Optimo uses the space within his character’s bandana to extend messages and express spontaneous feelings through words. Oftentimes he reclaims the American flag as a symbol of freedom of expression, serving as a reminder to authorities of the First Amendment. The artist adopted the name Optimo, short for Optimo Primo, meaning “Best Cousin,” as a means to bring out the best qualities in himself that will impact others.
Optimo has painted over one hundred box trucks in the city, using the truck as a mobile wall for maximum exposure. His most recent mural, located in Bushwick on Starr Street between Wyckoff and Irving, commemorates the late poet Frederico Garcia Lorca. Optimo has participated in several exhibitions as of late. In June 2011 he had his first solo show with Artist Revolution Studios pop-up exhibitions in Chelsea. The show, entitled “Optimize America,” consisted of 40 works by the artist. In November 2011, his work was exhibited in the “Everything Must Go” group show at the Brooklyn Fire Proof Gallery Space, curated by Matt Dobbs. His work was also featured in the “Boys I Know 2″ show curated by Pebbles van Peebles in Lower East Side. Optimo had his second solo exhibition at Diva Soho in Febuary 2012, displaying twenty paintings on canvas. During Art Basel Miami in December 2011, Optimo was active in painting many walls in the Winewood area. In particular, he joined forces with En Masse, an art initiative focused on collaborative works. He painted again with the Montreal-based group in March 2012 at the Fountain Fair during The Armory weekend in NYC. July 2012, Optimo was apart of the group show ”Cause & Effect” at a pop up gallery in Brooklyn, curated by URNEWYORK. Summer of 2012 Optimo founded his collective group PRINCE ST. KINGS, in which he curated two group show in Aug 2012, ”Open doors” & ” Purple reign on Prince st.” at the PSK loft in Soho. To cap the summer off Optimo will have a solo show at the PSK loft called “No sleep til’ Brooklyn”. Optimo aspires to further develop his style and technique across all mediums, and share his work on an international level.