“First of all, my alias is ATOS. I am 25 years old and I was born in the metropolitan city of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. I currently work with designs, illustrations, and graffiti. I feel like I am living inside a dream because I can survive by doing what I love. But to understand my dream, you must understand my past, but those details will come later. I pretty much just feel like I am doodling all day. And as far as the graffiti goes, you can feed it to me for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. (RSRSRS)
Graffiti was the birth and foundation of my total involvement with art. Well, maybe for second part, I started with cartoons. I first was inspired to draw when I was about 8 years old. I started doing cartoon reproductions of Donald Duck, Sparks and Smoke, Bugs, and others. Those designs were my first inspiration during my early childhood years. Later on I became interested in graffiti. I would always see graffiti in the area where I lived. There were several writers who filled my eyes with shapes, forms, letters, and characters. These images stuck inside my head and danced all day. Graffiti is like a river, this stuff moves through my head but I don’t like things that go down, my shit went upstream.
So I now realise that I started studying graffiti long before I started to paint it. All graffiti artists are studying when they ride on trains and buses. I was informed by a friend that graffiti was formed on a different basis than some other things and needed to be viewed in another way with your mind. Graffiti requires a lot of study and practice to become really talented at it. In the beginning, we were studying how not to be a toy, then we spend the rest of our lives trying to perfect our work. So when I was about ten years old, I began to study and devote myself to research about graffiti, and urban, contemporary, Renaissance and Baroque art. A lot of different styles. When we talk about learning styles, study the greats that came before you.
When I wanted something new, I started to study 3D art. Personally, I had always watched the works of artists such as Daim, Loomit, How & Nosm, and Daddy Cool. I feel like my eyes were like either a telescope or a microscope, I don’t know. But paying attention to the details of the art of those you love the most is a must to increase your talent. We as artists are not truly original. Everything that has been said and done underneath the sun and moonlight, so let’s change that! We are a collection of everything that moves, motivates, and inspires us.
My name, ATOS, is not my real name. To tell you the truth, I don’t even know why I chose that name. I feel like the combination of these letters impresses me. I experimented with other names, but in the end, this is the one I choose to keep.
If you are a true graffiti artist, then it will live deeper inside your heart than in that of other people. When I started to do it, I became more interested in art, it took over my mind and heart. Graffiti was not just something I loved that existed on walls, it was my teacher or instructor in my city where I lived and designed.
I am currently working with designs right now, and I create a nomenclature for my VEKTORGRAFFO designs (VEKTOR: VECTOR, GRAFFO: GRAFF) (graffiti) which is the creation of vector graphics with graffiti. Maybe this confuses the readers, but I kind of like that idea because I want to motivate you guys to do your research. Art doesn’t come from within just yourself. You must read, study, stare, think, dream, and practice. This world is like a tattoo, it lasts forever.
What first made you love art? What made the fire burn inside you to start doing what we all love?
“My interest in art started at my birth. I believe I was born already drawing inside my mind. Some people say that some are just born and blessed with a gift, something from God. I can’t prove it right or wrong, but I know I was born to be an artist and no one can convince me of anything different. I started drawing at a very early age. I was drawing a lot in school. Honestly my art shined brighter than any others in school since I started when I was only 8 years old. Maybe I was born a star. I don’t know I just love it. My teachers and other students were amazed with my artistic ability, and also with my sense to create and develop different styles and objects. I was not able to practice sports, that has never been my thing. In fact, nothing has changed that much until today, haha! Instead of studying for my education at school, I spent most of my time designing. People really loved my art and so many of the things that I drew, so I gave it to the people who appreciated it.
Graffiti grew within me almost instantly. We had an immediate connection. I believe in freedom. The cops do not give us freedom so it is like, FUCK IT, take it, we steal our own freedom so I can say whatever I want on a wall and the only thing you can do is run after me. I bet I am faster than you. Expressing myself on a larger scale started in the suburbs. There are many walls accessible here in the suburbs. The history of our graffiti started in the suburbs where it still continues. I know that the graff scene is different everywhere else, but here we can easily work with commercial advertisements and decorations on the houses of those who appreciate graffiti.
Doing characters, like I said, I started with cartoons that lead my curiosity towards graffiti letters to grow. I started young and have always kept a passion for writing. In the beginning I started to develop my lyrics or letters. I copied several letters of numerous artists from a magazine called “Graffiti”, which was made by the galley crew Third World of São Paulo, Brazil. The magazine was something that I always watched closely. I also always looked at Pauline’s graffiti which caused me to take a similar basis for my drawings. I drew for a very long time. I could not afford my own art materials so I waited until I could buy my own materials to do my first piece. It really took me about 5 years to try to scratch the first work on the wall. By this time I had watched many videos and bought magazines while I was trying to make contact with other artists. The neighborhood where I lived was filled with graffiti writers. There were many writers that I admired and still admire. This is a historical factor that influenced my artistic training. I think we have to learn and evolve from each other. So realize that the walls are a big teacher for us writers. Today many of the artists that I copied and the artists that came before, are all friends of mine as well as partners in our projects, panels, roles and work!”
What was your biggest challenge? Have you struggled with being motivated?
“The biggest challenge has been my financial situation. In the beginning I never had money to develop my talent. It is my own personal theory that I would have been than I am today if I had money back in my earlier days. Simply put, my family was poor, and I was born surrounded by violence and other difficulties. I always focused on art because it provided a peaceful escape away from all that. But all that never made me stop. Something inside of me would not let me stop, guess you can say it was my heart was completely focused on art because it was truly all that I had. Graffiti lived inside my head and I was always painting even when I was not painting. I truly feel like us writers become better partially because we are always painting even when we are riding on the bus or walking down the street. In short, always focus on art. One thing that really helped me was my family. They understood my need for me to do this art. Some mothers are complete haters when it comes to vandalism. I don’t think they truly understand, but mine did.
Unfortunately we live in a society that’s full of shit. It judges us, and that is the graffiti artist’s challenge. If we don’t fight the system, then our art will go hungry. Who wants to live in a world filled with ugly-ass grey walls without pieces? That is like saying hip hop is dead. FUCK THAT! There is too much judgment here. If God gave me the talent to paint but no talent is given to the haters, why are we hated for making the world a more beautiful place? One thing I hate is people giving stupid opinions about stuff they don’t even try to understand. They make ignorant reviews about a culture they don’t understand, and I hate their final judgment!
Today with my work, I am in a better condition that allows me to continue doing this now. It is great that my financial difficulties have passed, but because of my struggles from the past, it is a memory that always gives me a great amount of strength so I can focus on finding new ways to improve my work.”
How long did it take you to learn the 3D style? How long does it take you to make a wall? What tools do you use when you do that?
“3D is a constant learning progess so I’ve never stopped studying techniques and styles. Study everything in the world around you such as nature, angle, light, shading, comics.. Anything that has beauty is worth appreciating. I don’t focus my studies directly on studying and seeing graffiti. I believe that we have a vast field of research that we need to look into. Also, what is important is a reference that is directly connected to our learning. I currently take an independent way for our productions, and they last for 1-2 days to play a part in our 3D projects. I use a lot of stencils, but with my practice, I put those aside and do my pieces by finishing and controlling the traits of the picture. I do not discriminate by using only using stencils, molds, or ribbons. Each of these actions has their own level of difficulty so that is how my work developed.”
Have you ever written in heaven spots or hard to reach places?
“I started by vandalising, but not necessarily all the chickens start with graffiti or vandalism. But that didn’t last for too long because my desire to do walls shaped my thinking. So this created my analysis on how to make my structures for everything. I can honestly paint for weeks without being satisfied. I don’t want to stop until I am happy, but at the same time I want to get my piece done quickly. I love being a vandal, but I don’t have to make bombs or anything like the in the videos I see. I have great respect and admiration and reference to develop gear like silscreen, amongst other things, but the art of the vandal is fucking the best! It’s crazy! And I will always be a fan. I’ve done panels in difficult prohibited places and local ones, and honestly I still do. But here in Brazil, we paint in as many spaces as we can and sometimes people who admire end up inviting us to paint their wall.”
As a writer, I know all the good ones have done this shit for so long and we cannot avoid the fucking pigs. Tell me an amazing story about these cops!
“Honestly, I have read all the articles in your magazine. I have to say that mine is the biggest opposite of all of yours. The funny thing is I have never been caught. I am not saying I never encountered the police, I just have never been caught. I guess they never found any evidence. I have been approached countless times when I was painting, but they never found anything. Guess you can call us ninjas. So I will keep painting with a perfect record.”
“The motivation must come from within ourselves. Our minds should be free from worry and a hundred percent devoted to the positive side of art. Forget about authority without worrying. Your hands wouldn’t shake the first time you tried a tag if you didn’t have fears to concur. Be fearless, fuck the haters, and focus on what you are doing and run if you have to. Fight against authority and paint as much as you can without stopping.. or you will lose a piece of your heart and brain.
I believe that sometimes the best way out of this hellish world is for an artist to remember that, no matter how bad it gets, they can always get their freedom to do what they like, and always paint and discover different ways of developing their talent. Live inside of your mind, always think for yourself and forget what people say. Because if you live your life to please other people, you always will be a failure cause you can’t please the world. Don’t let people ruin your motivation and effect your progress. Just be happy and paint and develop your skill. Focus on art and focus on graffiti. You will find motivation from within yourself that will help your own personal inspiration. Some people struggle but they are weak. They might be talented but the unmotivated lose their love and they don’t even draw. If you let your mind become weak, then finding your inspiration is a must. Let the hate, difficulties, and criticisms motivate you. The only person that needs to be happy with your works are you and God. Paint the world!
Stay away from stuff that does not motivate you. And for those who have to rack paint, I understand you. It is very complicated being poor and not having a brother or sister. I was not provided with paint, my family was poor. Nevertheless, I had to be persistent to get money to paint. Since I could not paint as much as I wanted to, I would read so I could live in my mind, in my dream world. I read as much as I could. It was like an alien looked at me in ways in which only they could inform me.
I was also never mislead by conversations with other artists. Nothing can take me away from myself and I will die before I try to be like someone else. I don’t care about useless opinions. They are haters that can cause us to think wrong and even make us doubt our inner talent. Listen to yourself, do not discard the ability to be creative. We should listen to good advice, from your elders, cause they have lived for awhile, and they know what the fuck they are talking about.
As for the art: read things. You need to try to study the artists because all great artists have major difficulty in their practice, but in the end they show major strengths. Learn from them.”