There are as many stories that led to Opie Otterstad becoming an artist as there are stories about him as an artist. The journey began as a three-year-old, drawing during his father’s sermons, and has continued throughout his adult life.
While there are many events that have landed Opie Otterstad were he is today, the lighthouse that led him in the direction of the rocky shore where sport meets art, was Fran Pirozzolo. One of the leading sports psychologists in the world, Fran saw Opie working on some drawings while working a summer job at Baylor College of Medicine, and asked if he did more than just draw. That encounter led to commissioned paintings for Evander Holyfield, Greg Norman, and Berhard Langer. Opie has been a ship caught in that storm ever since.
Graduating from St. Olaf College with a Bachelors Degree in Studio Art and Psychology, he continued his pursuit of understanding the mind with a Masters in Psychology. This has been furthered in his work by being very interested in the lives and histories of his subjects. Each of his works tells a story – some are obvious, some are much more vague. The continuing wisdom of his professors and mentors, coupled with a new confidence, launched Opie into a lifelong effort to quell the ill-will between sport and fine art. Using a love of 20th Century art and a passion for saying something in a new way, a new manner of sports art was born.
A constant work ethic for his passions has created a painter who would be considered prolific by any standards. With over 800 works to his credit since 1993, his friends and peers tease him about his vigilance. He feels that it is this consistency that allows him growth and extended vision in his work.
His choice is to live the life of an artist whose era has past. Taking time to get to know his patrons as friends. His commissioned works have become statements about his own life, in that they each represent the relationships in his life. They are personal expressions about the people he knows and calls friends. He takes a lot of time to create work that speaks to more than just an individual’s sports life, but rather his or her entire life. Long cross country road trips to visit patrons where they live are not uncommon. He feels that a better understanding of them produces better paintings from within himself. His commitment to pushing his own boundaries has led to commission lists from the sports world that pile up on his studio docket.