“It started as a hobby, just something to do.”
Leaving his mark all up and down Miami walls, Atomik has definitely been putting on for our city. Mobbin in these MIA streets his whole life, Atomik has become a staple in the graffiti community. More recently, his “orange” character has been popping up more and more throughout the city. We got a chance to chop it up with the street art virtuoso to get a better idea of who the man behind the can really is…
305: Who is Atomik?
I’m an artist. I was born and raised in Miami. I do murals, designs, prints. Atomic started as my graffiti tag, a lot of people don’t know my real name, they just know me as Atomik. My orange didn’t use to have a name but now he goes by the name Atomik too.
305: So the orange is like your symbol?
The first time I threw it up was on an abandoned Modern Age building. Me and my friend climbed up on the roof and did it. It was my tag, his tag and in the middle was the orange. It was my way of commemorating the demolished Orange Bowl arena.
305: Being a street artist for as long as you have, I know you’ve had to have had some run-ins with the law – any stories?
One time me and my boy were in Mexico writing and two guys posing as cops arrested us and detained us. They had us in the back of their pick up truck and the whole time I’m telling my boy, “these dudes are not cops, lets get the f*ck outta here”. But he was like, “nahh dont do it”. So they met up with the cops, who then took us to the precinct. There was a bunch of drunk dudes from the weekend there in the holding cell. I kept thinking that I should be taking pictures because there was no ceiling in the room I was in. The whole time I was thinking, if these dudes wanted to stand on each others shoulders and get out they could totally escape. So we ended up paying off the dudes who originally detained us, then we paid off the police and then we paid off the people in the precinct and then we were let go. Its just kinda funny how that whole situation worked out. Its like you think about it, I went to jail in Mexico City. It sounds really bad, but in reality it wasn’t that bad.
305: You were once referred to as “The Kanye West” of Miami graffiti…
That was some New Times sh**. I learned that when the press writes about you, they skew their story towards how they wanna see things. I’m not trying to beef with anyone. All good vibes.
305: That’s just a misconception people have about you then?
There’s a few people who hate my guts. But its like they kept poking at me and poking at me till I bite off the finger. They were hating on me so I gave them a reason to hate me. People think I’m a jerk or an a**hole but I’m not. I’m a really nice guy.
305: What’s the least satisfying thing about what you do?
The business side of it. I sell myself short and people take advantage. I’m not a business man. You gotta have thick skin. Its tough especially when money gets involved.
305: And the critics probably don’t make things easier, huh?
I don’t have someone that represents me, but it allows me to have room for error. Its difficult to really draw the line and say, this is what I do and if you don’t like it, take a hike.
305: So what motivates you to continue?
Traveling. I need to leave Miami a couple times during the year to get a breath of fresh air and get my creative juices flowing. Also people’s support and reaction to the orange. I just have an addiction to painting. I forget about everything and disconnect myself.
305: If you weren’t doing graffiti, what would you be doing?
*long pause* I don’t even know. I like to ride bikes and be active, so something along the lines of physical activity maybe.
305: You threw up a couple “RIP REEFA” pieces recently when you were in Australia, were you two close?
I actually didn’t know him personally. I knew of him, had seen his work. Its so sad what happened man. I wanna do a piece for him in the streets. The writing scene is a tight community. Even when I was in California, I saw RIP REEFA on a wall.
305: Who are some of the people you look up to?
Brandon Opalka, Anthony Lister, Ron English and Kenny Scharf. They have a history in the streets and are all established artist that show in galleries now too.
305: Is that the route you want your art to take you?
Definitely. I’d love to be where these people are at. I’m always gonna stay in the streets though because that’s what I love to do; that’s where I belong.
305: Any goals for the next five years?
I have this idea that when I turn 35, people are gonna take me more serious. As far as art goes, I wanna create a body of work and show in galleries, climb my way up the ladder. I’d like to travel more and become a family man.