If anyone thought for one second that the graffiti scene in New York was fading out, think again. ATOME – a native of Australia who resides in Sydney –travels and leaves his artistic signature in many different cities around the world, but if given the opportunity to plaster his writing on any surface, he couldn’t resist the subways of New York City. “That is the essence of it all, where it all came from, that is what is still breathing so much energy and life into what we all do today in many ways,” he says.

Although ATOME’s travels have slowed down in the last while, he recalls his first trip to New York in 1990 as a “long dream that came to fruition.” He remembers making visits to the city every year in the `90s, sometimes, several times within a year. “In the `90s I was traveling so much, just really enjoying it and getting on with things,” says ATOME. It is fair to say that ATOME’s longevity in the graffiti scene and familiarity of its roots, has made him attuned to shifts of perception within the mass public in regards to the highly stigmatized art form.


“People are a lot more open to it these days,” says ATOME. More specifically, the authorities have eased up within recent years. “It has been brewing for 30 or 40 years now, so there is a level of understanding that the authorities have to take on board.” With that comes an open ear from folks who are unfamiliar with graffiti art.

“Sometimes the best way to explain, or make the comparison, is that it is like another sport,” he explains. “It has been sub-labeled a culture, where people think that is a good thing, but in essence it is like another sport.” Similar to any other sport, ATOME believes that there are many different elements that make up street writing. “Some of them are public friendly, some of them aren’t so public friendly, but at the end of the day, it is an art form that takes time to develop as far as the individual is concerned.”


Part of this developmental process is allowing yourself to feel every level of emotion that comes along with writing. Even the constant fear of being caught is something that ATOME considers a part of the “adventure.” He describes it as climbing a mountain. “If you climb with no problems whatsoever, part of the adventure has been diluted,” he says, adding “the adrenaline that you feel, the raw sense of excitement, is what it is all about. In many cases it is not about finishing the piece, but about the adventure that goes along with it.”

When it comes to seeking out new adventures, ATOME is no stranger. Within the past few years, he has started displaying his art on apparel as well as in the form of a book, ATOME Un*leaded. He makes it clear that the T-shirts he creates are simply another “outlet.” “We’re definitely not a brand trying to cash in and be a fashion label,” says ATOME. “What we do is try and release some items when we’re feeling good and try and have fun with them.” ATOME Un*leaded on the other hand, is clearly a project that is close to ATOME’s heart. The book, which is mostly made up of pencil sketches, was, for the most part, “a great experience to go through, definitely something that I will do again. Over and over I hope!”

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Isha Thompson

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  1. u are amazin man…
    i hope i learn to be like you i swear…
    ur work is sik bruv…
    ur better than anyone i no…

  2. just like to type that they are gr8 wrks, really pop with the colours, i love it, u could spary all over ma house if you wanted to!

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