Erik Otto is an American mixed-media artist working in the creative disciplines of painting, sculpture and installation. Otto received a BFA from San Jose State University in California. His work has been shown in exhibitions nationally in New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco and internationally in Vancouver and Mexico City. He was selected for the SF Recology Artist-in-Residence Program, received the VSCO Artist Initiative Grant, and produced work for YBCA Bay Area Now 7. He currently has work held in the private collections of Grand Hyatt, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Google, One Medical Group, Adobe Systems, and Uber Technologies. Otto has also produced numerous self-initiated projects and events; one including a 6-month art residency in Mexico City in an abandoned building just prior to it’s demolition.

Otto was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, currently based in New York City, with studios in Brooklyn, NY and San Francisco, CA.


My artwork hosts an environment for controlled chaos — often a balance of improvisational layering combined with careful construction. The process represents freedom and understanding while expressing the notion that life is constantly happening and becoming, most often beyond our recognition. Being someone committed to a spiritual life seeking wisdom from both the natural and supernatural world, I see great significance in the harmonious shape of the circle often making it the most recognizable form seen throughout my work.

Perhaps intentionally, I remember very little of my childhood every day life and have only kept the vivid memories of the months my family and I would pile into our old car towing a camper trailer exploring the outdoors together. Coastal highways filled with fog, long narrow roads winding through tall trees, wide open countrysides, and the inevitable seemingly endless stretches of nothing when traversing state to state. It was here, my mind learned to wander and my imagination matured out of movement and long moments of exploration. While my family grew out of this tradition, I continued to spend a majority of my free time wandering alone down backroads and unmarked paths. Guided by my restless curiosity, I soon became interested in the more immediate terrain that was all around. I began roaming abandoned sites, walking old train tracks, hopping fences, climbing buildings, and overall exposing myself to areas hidden in plain sight.

Not only did I discover the beauty that is often overlooked, I saw the realities most often ignored witnessing homelessness, drug addiction, vandalism, waste, and abandonment. The once innocent act of escaping my own worries inadvertently informed me of larger issues while the contrast of continuing to participate in the humdrum of everyday life amidst these forgotten worlds exemplified an apparent result of an imbalanced progress I was no longer comfortable with — yet thankful to have discovered. Today, my restlessness continues and this realization has since produced an eagerness to stay informed and an unwavering desire to create purposeful work as a way to communicate positive change. Similarly, my practice in the studio remains to be equally influenced by my curiosity and exploratory tendencies as I continue to experiment with a growing list of mediums and materials uncovering more possibilities along the way.


After a lifetime on the west coast and a year in Mexico City, my nomadic lifestyle has led me to New York City and a time of reinvention. Upon disconnecting from familiarity, I am reminded of what matters most while turning to the characteristics of water as an inspirational source in how I navigate and take shape in my new surroundings. Known as the force behind all living things, in larger quantities, water can produce a powerful impact altering everything in its path. My current work explores this state of flux expressed through the many symbolic qualities of water depicted in nonlinear landscapes flooded with emotion and free of boundaries. Bold graphic shapes contrast the fluid forms and capture your attention while strengthening a sense of movement. Ultimately, my latest work is my commitment to remain resilient during a time of uncertainty all the while relating to something new through an element that connects us all.


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
Cal State San Marcos, San Marcos, CA, Rooted Dreams


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


Grand Hyatt, San Francisco, CA

Microsoft, Seattle, WA


Adobe Systems, Inc., San Jose, CA

American Institute of Architects, San Francisco, CA

Gensler Architecture, San Francisco, CA

Google, Sunnyvale, CA

JanSport, USA

KNOTEL, New York City, NY

LinkedIn, Omaha, NE

LinkedIn, Sunnyvale, CA

Martinkovic Milford Architects, San Francisco, CA

MASH, San Francisco, CA

One Medical Group, San Francisco, CA

Red Bull, San Francisco, CA

Studio O+A, San Francisco, CA

UBER Technologies, Palo Alto, CA

Urban Outfitters Inc., USA

Workshop Cafe, San Francisco, CA