Erik Otto is a painter, muralist, and mixed media artist working in NYC with commissions and collections placed around the world. His work is a colorful, glowing response to a life laced with loss, reunions, and recoveries. Erik Otto is here, now.

A San Francisco Bay Area native, Otto graduated from San Jose State University with a degree in Illustration. His work is informed, to some degree, by his time in the Bay Area just as the Bay Area, to some degree, is informed by his work: his paintings grace the campuses of Google, Adobe, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Uber, AIA, Grand Hyatt, RedBull, and others.

With natural forms that reference drum and dance circles, rich colors that flatter the neon lights often used in his canvas and sculptural work, and fluid compositions that emphasize the ephemeral, his artwork might not initially look like a response to a life peppered with deeply human hardships. But these vibrant combinations and outcomes have always been his reprieve.

His recent work is informed by the rapidly successive losses of his sister-in-law, longtime friend, father, and mother; the sobriety that’s helped a beloved family member after a long stretch of substance abuse; and a near-fatal injury from which his physical therapy still extends today. Basically, Otto knows what it’s like to walk calmly through the fire.

In his early career, Otto challenged himself to travel as a minimalist and lived nomadically for five years while he grew his practice and client list. What would be unmooring for most was a sweet rhythm for him and the influence of that time still finds expression in his personal life as well as his ability to create collections and murals that rapidly adapt bare spaces into balanced environments. When the expanse of the world is your home — and the needs of your comfort are just art supplies and a bicycle — being recognizably yourself in any locale becomes second nature. So, it’s no mistake that Otto’s work, even as it adapts over time, is instantly identifiable.

In recent years, his work has used mixed mediums to create mass, texture, and light across a variety of surfaces. The visual weight and glow are an easy parallel to the cadence of the last few years of his life: the lockdown of the recent pandemic fell immediately after the terminal diagnosis of his sister-in-law; the grief of her passing was reverbed by the terminal diagnosis of his mother; her change in care interlaced the unexpected passing of his father; his loss was immediately echoed by her passing; and all were capped with a bike crash that could have been his endgame yet somehow wasn’t. With no time between blows, it would have been simple to fall into the unyielding grief the process almost demanded. Instead, Otto recalls it by saying a piece of his mind that probably needed to unclench and transform felt like it did. Like the weight and the mass of his life could be spilled over with the light of his perspective.

So, just as we all are, Erik Otto is alive; he is here, now. And with that comes the opportunity for vibrant, ephemeral, chromatic work.


Heron Arts




Whether it’s on canvas, murals, or custom installations, Erik Otto’s work is overflowing with an unpretentious vitality. His treatments of geometric forms among layers of sprays and organic paint washes invite the viewer closer to see details, line work, and choices up close. His line work often continues with neon lights installed to create further dimension hovering above or flowing off the canvas. Illuminated or not, Otto’s work glows.

Otto has added modern and classically fine art fresco materials to his recent works to create plaster and concrete forms both on the canvas and off. His dimensional applications create a sense of gravity in his work as well as offer space for new textures and light play.

The harmony of his choices in each work helps to root the vibrance that might otherwise feel shocking. His bright and bold color choices, even in works that are predominantly dark or meant to speak about the weight of our shared vitality, are patent to his artistic language. Otto’s work feels balanced and natural. These pieces are at once a reflection of his interior world and a space to alchemize new perspectives for the viewer.


Heron Arts, San Francisco, CA, Alchemy

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


Artist Talk, Art 01, San Jose State University


Seed Gallery, San Francisco, CA, Between The Lines

Seed Gallery, San Francisco CA, Spectrum


Gensler Architecture — interior murals & installations
San Jose, CA

Media+Objectives — interior murals & installations
San Francisco, CA

Urban Chalet — interior murals & installations
San Francisco, CA

Martinkovic Milford Architects — interior murals & installations
San Francisco, CA

Studio O+A — interior murals & installations
San Francisco, CA

Vick Art Advisors — interior murals
New York City, NY

KNOTEL — interior murals
New York City, NY

ABG Projects — interior installations
Oakland, CA

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

Sunnyvale, CA

Andreessen Horowitz
San Francisco, CA / New York City, NY

Capital One
New York City, NY

Adobe Systems, Inc.
San Jose, CA

San Francisco, CA

Microsoft Inc.
Seattle, WA

Cooper Steel
Nashville, TN

American Institute of Architects
San Francisco, CA

Sunnyvale, CA / Omaha, NE

Martinkovic Milford Architects
San Francisco, CA

One Medical Group
San Francisco, CA

UBER Technologies
Palo Alto, CA

San Francisco, CA

Addepar, Inc.
New York, NY

Level 23
Oakland, CA

505 W 19th
New York City, NY

YARA Digital Labs
Berlin, Germany

Workshop Cafe
San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, CA