ATTY (real name Graham Atwell) hails from the original home of the oval ball, Rugby, England, is a former central London cop and Sydney resident for over a decade. His switch from the MET Police to the art world is as unconventional and as fascinating as his work itself.
ATTY had always doodled and as he grew increasingly disillusioned with his day job, drawing became a more frequent and fervent creative release. Animals his chosen subject. ATTY’s creations, from hares to emus to giraffes, have been adopted in over 40 countries on every continent and welcomed into new homes by people from all walks of life, including animal lovers, celebrities, musicians and sports stars.
ATTY’s process is meticulous, painstaking, something he admits habitually does not come naturally. He spends countless hours on each artwork, working in three phases until each one is executed perfectly. Among the most crucial elements are colour composition, balance and placement. Most of his animals take 150 to 250 hours to complete but his latest conception, an elephant will take around 800 hours. A long labour. What keeps him going is knowing that ‘every time one of my animals is adopted I feel very privileged. It is amazing to know that my beloved animal is going to a loving owner and new home.’
ATTY prefers to term his artwork sales as ‘adoptions’. It is not just a transaction. Finding a good home for his loving creations is of paramount importance. As is the personality of his animals and their ultimate keeper. The idea stemmed from the time when Graham and his partner Romana adopted an 18-year-old cat named Harvey, who was the inspiration behind Harvey the Lion, and is still an important part of their life today.
“I never name my animal until I see it for printed for the first time, but I usually have a short list in mind. I guess this is a similar process to what many parents go through with a child,” says ATTY. “The naming and the stories that accompany each animal are incredibly important – these guys and girls are like my babies. I spend so much time creating them that the name is very important for me. Once they’re christened they are ready to be adopted.”