Born in the UK in 1982 to Iraqi parents, Athier has always considered himself a British Iraqi. He grew up between London, Paris and Baghdad with the majority of his child and adult life in the UK. In 2007, he gained an MA in Illustration at Central Saint Martins.

From 2007-9 Athier was also the British Museum’s Artist in Residence, in association with the Karim Rida Said Foundation, teaching Arab world cultural awareness at selected UK schools. This focused on engaging British students with the Arab world by breaking down aesthetic elements and creating new associations and references.  During this period, Athier also collaborated on mural workshops for the V&A, focusing much of this work on similar Arab world constructs.  In 2009, Athier began exploring the various themes he had taught in more depth and in 2010 was given an artist residency by the Chargé de Collection et d'Exposition at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris as part of Al Mansouria Foundation’s Arab Artist Program.

Athier has created an instantly recognizable style through an innovative combination of geometric Islamic shapes and Arabic calligraphy.

Each canvas can be potentially seen as one block, phrase, sentence, or idea, as well as an assembly of these parts. Only once the viewer has experienced the work as whole, does the eye begin to discern details and individual elements. The presence of words in Athier’s paintings is not immediately apparent; the embedded script becomes pronounced to the viewer only after the context is taken in. This use of visual language as subtext adds dimension to his work, and allows the preconception of imagery and meaning that the powerful Arabic language conveys to become at once distinct from, yet an integral part of, the work as a whole. The viewer is thus drawn into the work in a non-traditional manner in which the significance of the letter-forms is made apparent only by the context, as if reading a text.

Athier’s words and letters are truncated by line, color and aesthetic distortion. The result is neither the stylized script of traditional scribes nor the entwined graffiti-like productions of contemporary masters, rather a technique that is novel in its visual appeal.