Erik Otto was born in San Jose, California in 1980. His work unites soft with raw, light with dark, and textured with smooth, in abstract paintings, sculptures, and installations that stimulate mind, body, and soul. Otto has developed a materially-oriented practice that pairs the textured surfaces of unconventional mediums like plaster and sand, with splashes of bold color and accented by the warm glow of neon. Otto’s work often extends beyond the canvas, from site-specific murals to immersive works embedded in urban landscapes. He activated a vacant building with his work in Mexico City and transformed an empty storefront in Manhattan’s Chinatown from floor to ceiling with waves of color and gestural accents, bathing the space in soft purple light, curated sound, and aroma, for a multisensory experience that played off of the spontaneity of city life and gallery-goers alike.

Otto has participated in a variety of artist programs and residencies including the San Francisco Recology Artist-in-Residence (2009-2010), he featured work in the Yerba Buena Center of the Arts triennial, Bay Area Now 7 (2014), and received the VSCO Artist Initiative Grant (2014). His work has been shown in galleries around the world including Berlin, Vancouver, Tokyo, New York City, and San Francisco, and is held in the private collections of Adobe Systems, Google, Grand Hyatt, LinkedIn, Microsoft, One Medical Group, and Uber Technologies. Otto is based in Brooklyn, New York, with studios in both NYC and San Francisco, California.


Erik Otto’s abstraction utilizes color, light, and space to tap into the human experience. At the core, his compositions are inspired by the visceral elements of life—emotive strokes that embody the fluidity of water and circular shapes that echo cycles of regeneration. The playful movement of his work—active, parallel lines, saturated color, and often three-dimensional—is inspired by the creative community of dancers, musicians, and visual artists of the Bay Area, where he grew up and lived before relocating to New York in 2017.

For ten years, Otto has created work in thematic installments, Sun+Sea (2011-2015), Vision (2016-2017), and Waves (2018-2020). Surface and Light (2019-present) arrives at a time when the future is uncertain, pushing Otto to experiment with new materials and processes. What resulted are sculptural paintings that were born out of and confront our collective anxiety of the tumultuous 2020, a year of racial uprisings, COVID-19, and divisive politics. The social climate inspired Otto to create works that allow us to seek solace in the soft hum of the neon light, which Otto designs in collaboration with fabricators in NYC and SF. Crevices and shadows on the facade provide a platform for natural and neon light to intermingle, this tension—between lightness and darkness, highs and lows—intends to provoke curiosity and invites viewers to reflect on and embrace the organic nature of our everyday lives.


Heron Arts, San Francisco, CA, Chromatherapy

321 Canal Street (Wallplay), New York, NY, WAVES

384 Broadway, New York, NY, From One Place to the Next
SummerSchool, San Francisco, CA, From One Place to the Next

Luna Rienne Gallery, San Francisco, CA, Rising Sun

Heron Arts, San Francisco, CA, Rising Tides

Burrard Arts Foundation, Vancouver, BC, Canada, In Search Of
ReUrbano, Mexico City, Mexico, Distancia
Luna Rienne Gallery, San Francisco, CA, Searching For Higher Ground

933 Treat Studios, San Francisco, CA, A Full Days Work

White Walls, San Francisco, CA, Project Room

White Walls, San Francisco, CA, Tomorrow is Never Promised (1)
Fabric8, San Francisco, CA, Tomorrow is Never Promised (2)
Recology SF, San Francisco, CA, The Last Shall Be First

Beta Lounge, Berkeley, CA, WORKS
Charmingwall Gallery, New York, NY, Silence Speaks Volumes

Design Within Reach, Palo Alto, CA, Recent Works
The Shooting Gallery, San Francisco, CA, The Sea of Change
Gallery Three, San Francisco, CA, The Calm Before the Storm

The Shooting Gallery, San Francisco, CA, A Long Way Home
Cal State San Marcos, San Marcos, CA, Rooted Dreams


Heron Arts, San Francisco, CA, Press On
American Giant, San Francisco, CA, The American Flag: Interpreted 2

Joint Gallery, Tokyo, Japan, Pop & Street
Luna Rienne Gallery, San Francisco, CA, Quintessential
Brilliant Champions. Brooklyn, NY, Sum of All Parts
American Giant, San Francisco, CA, The American Flag: Interpreted

South Street Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, All In
Heron Arts, San Francisco, CA, Together
Athen B Gallery, San Francisco, CA, 2-Year Anniversary Show

Prjct OMNI, Traverse City, MI, A Theory of Contemplation
The Yard, Brooklyn, NY, Recent Works (curated by Silence is Accurate)
Marin MOCA, Navato, CA, Waste Not
Athen B Galery, Oakland, CA, New Radius
Joseph Gross Gallery, New York, NY, Night & Day
Space236, San Francisco, CA, The Balance

Athen B Gallery, Oakland, CA, CO-LAB
Inner State Gallery, Detroit, MI, Lyric III
Ampersand International Arts, Mexico City, Mexico, Carry On

YBCA, San Francisco, CA, Bay Area Now 7

SFO Museum, San Francisco, CA, The Art of Recology
Hyatt Regency Hotel, San Francisco, CA, Project Grand SF
Adobe Backroom Gallery, San Francisco, CA, We Had Nothing To Do And We Did It
Southern Exposure, San Francisco, CA, PARADE
Asterisk Gallery, San Francisco, CA, Future Culture

Fabric8, San Francisco, CA, Color Theory
Project One Gallery, San Francisco, CA, Symbols
Ace Museum, Los Angeles, CA, All in for the 99%
323 East Gallery, Detroit, MI, Lyric 2012

Gallerie NeuroTitan, Berlin, Germany, Permaculture
Mallick Williams & Co., New York, NY, Spectrum
941 Geary Gallery, San Francisco, CA, Indoor Mural Project
Double Punch Gallery, San Francisco, CA, There is No Telling
Gallery Hijinks, San Francisco, CA, The Letter Collector

Primary Flight / Art Basel Miami, Miami, FL, Fresh Produce
Katzen Art Center, Washington DC, Ghost Market x Catalyst
Re:Form School, New York, NY, Re:Form School
941 GEARY, San Francisco, CA, A New Beginning
Intersection For the Arts, San Francisco, CA, 45th Anniversary
Manifest Equality, Los Angeles, CA, Manifest Equality
White Walls Gallery, San Francisco, CA, Never a Dull Moment
Fabric8, San Francisco, CA, 1(4) Years

The Shooting Gallery, San Francisco, CA, Terrestrial Syndrome
Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco, CA, Annual Benefit Show
Shadow’s Space, Philadelphia, PA, Climb in the Back Window

Charmingwall, New York City, NY, Tiny Big Top Show
Reaves Gallery, San Francisco, CA, If These Walls Could Speak

Project:Gallery, Culver City, CA, Head in the Trees

Ayden Gallery, Vancouver, BC, Canada, Brave Art
Compound Gallery, Portland, OR, Supernal
Thinkspace, Los Angeles, CA, Square Foot Show
Corey Helford Gallery, Culver City, CA, Halloween Show
Thinkspace, Los Angeles, CA, Triamese

The Lab 101 Gallery, Culver City, CA, The Birdhouse Show
Gallery Anno Domini, San Jose, CA, Fresh Produce


Burrard Arts Foundation, Vancouver, BC, Canada

ReUrbano, Mexico City, Mexico

Recology San Francisco, AIR Program, San Francisco, CA


VSCO Artist Initiative, grant recipient

SFAC Art in Storefronts grant recipient


Gensler Architecture — interior murals
San Francisco, CA

Martinkovic Milford Architects — interior murals
San Francisco, CA

Studio O+A — interior murals
San Francisco, CA

Urban Chalet — interior murals
San Francisco, CA

KNOTEL — interior murals
New York City, NY

MASH — artist-series collection
San Francisco, CA

Red Bull — various murals & installations
San Francisco, CA

Urban Outfitters Inc. — artist-series products

JanSport — artist-series bag collection


Grand Hyatt
San Francisco, CA

Microsoft Inc.
Seattle, WA

Adobe Systems, Inc.
San Jose, CA

San Francisco, CA

American Institute of Architects
San Francisco, CA

Sunnyvale, CA

Omaha, NE

Sunnyvale, CA

Martinkovic Milford Architects
San Francisco, CA

One Medical Group
San Francisco, CA

UBER Technologies
Palo Alto, CA

San Francisco, CA

YARA Digital Labs
Berlin, Germany

Workshop Cafe
San Francisco, CA

Nyum Bai
Oakland, CA

San Francisco, CA