About Optimist Collective
Is your glass half-empty or half-full? How about we fill it up with art?
Art is the great equalizer, healing wounds and bringing people from all walks of life together.
Today we need art more than ever before! To fill the glasses up to the very top and quench our desires for peaceful and meaningful existence.
Somewhere in between knowing who you are and figuring out who you can become lies the world of self-expression, inhabited by otherworldly-looking free spirits. They are optimistic by nature and like to spread the joy and wisdom of art, literature and music, painting the world in many colours and piercing the ether with thoughts and feelings.
We are Optimist Collective - and we are here to help you express yourself.
History of Optimist Collective
Optimist Collective launched during the 2020 lockdown by Elina Pasok and Dan Kert in North-West London as an essential outlet for creativity and art.
Music, paintings, photography, literature and regular philosophical debates surround us on a daily basis and at some point, ideas, colours and shapes started spilling over onto our clothes. This was the beginning of Optimist Collective.
Just like so many other enterprises, ours started with a need. We needed to share our positive approach to life, seeing the glass half-full, not empty.
Elina’s very first t-shirt design was created back in 2000 when she discovered textile inks in art school and made a t-shirt with “Know Thyself” written in Latin. It was reference to an instant cult-classic movie “The Matrix” (The Oracle shows it to Neo). Only a handful of peers recognized the reference, but she felt very hip pretending to know Latin.
At the same time Dan’s been playing gigs with his band and he needed his t-shirts to channel his likes, worries and world views. He experimented cutting holes in his t-shirts and spraying bleach on textile to get psychedelic colour-bleeds. Dan’s favourite t-shirt from that time is still alive, though beloved Kurt Cobain of Nirvana is looking quite faded today.
Dan’s all-time favourite place was his music school where he spent most of his free time. A small print-shop just opened close by, and it felt like true magic: you fire up your dial-up at home, download a tiny jpeg online (or draw something in Paint), put it onto a floppy-disk and bring that to the shop after piano class. Ideas will come to life on a t-shirt! The prints felt sticky and plasticky would peel off quite easily, but the seed was planted. Direct-to-print technology that Optimist Collective use today wasn’t available back then.
Major parts of our wardrobes were self-designed by then, though not all designs were made equal. One day Dan got detention at school when he showed up in a t-shirt with a four-letter word in huge letters across his chest.
Another funny story inspired our range of Women t-shirts - you may notice the designs differ from the unisex line.
Deeply in love with the Tolkien’s books, Elina was ecstatic that “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” was being released on the silver screen. Elina took off her black pleather Matrix-inspired coat and put on a golden ring on a silver chain around her neck. A friend surprised Elina with a perfect present - a t-shirt with the LOTR movie poster. Concerned Frodo in the middle, Aragorn and Gandalf next to him. Elina loved this t-shirt and would wear it for three years to every premiere of the trilogy. The problem of this shirt’s design became apparent when Elina noticed Frodo’s face slowly stretching sideways. Frodo’s concerned face was changing just like Elina’s teenage body was. Frodo started looked looking like a sad frog. Lesson learned - when designing for women, mind the curves.
Some time later Dan and Elina found each other and started working on a series of designs for Dan’s band Plastic Barricades. Elina also made a piece called “Democracy is Dead” written in blood-red acrylic paint that was worn on a peaceful demonstration in London.
In 2020, during the lockdown, we felt the need to transform random ideas into real tangible things. The first Optimist collection became reality. You will notice lots of our designs are inspired by music and arts, but we are also excited by the Zeitgeist series, where we will channel our hopes, dreams and worries of the weird and wonderful life that is 2020 and beyond.