Fernando Carlo aka Cope2 is a well renowned New York graffiti artist hailing from Kingsbridge, South Bronx. Known worldwide for his Wildstyle pieces and bubble lettering, he fell in love with the art form in the early ‘80s.
It was the beginnings of an illustrious career that has seen Cope2 form a crew called “Kids Destroy”, which was later changed to “Kings Destroy” as he was the self proclaimed King of the notorious New York 4 Line.
Well known for their connection with Street culture, Foot Locker and Adidas are proud to announce their new collaboration with New York graffiti artist Cope2. The range combines footwear, apparel, and accessories in four separate sections that pay homage to the birthplace of Hip Hop, the Bronx. Based on the iconic locations of the New York Subway’s 4 Line, an area that Cope2 notoriously put on the map with his graffiti throw-ups and Wildstyle designs, the ‘Go All City’ collection tells a story in each section and shows respect to the art form of graffiti and the legend that is Cope2.
From E.149th St – Writers Bench to E.161st Street, across The 4 Yard and finally onto Kings Destroy, the four collections in the range take the sneaker lover on a historic train ride, through New York’s Subway 4 Line. Keep your eyes peeled and your ears to the street for a once in a lifetime chance to visit the 4 Line locations with Cope2, with an online and in-store competition prize.
Exclusive to Foot Locker, the Cope2 collection is available from the 17th March with prices starting at £60. For more information, please visit http://www.footlocker.eu.
What are some of the best memories you have of writing?
Cope2: The New York Subways! The early ‘80s, just watching your pieces go by, those are my best memories. It doesn’t get better than that, you know. The ‘Glory Days’ is what I call it.
Does the way you started out, doing graffiti on trains, compared to what you do now?
Cope2: Not at all, it’s history; it’s something that you’ll never live again. There’s no way you could do that now. You can paint trains now, but it’s not going to run through the city, it’s something that’ll never be captured again, especially in New York. Maybe in other countries – like I was in Rome and I saw the subway system bombed over there. That shit was crazy, I was trippin’ off that shit, I was like “I gotta come back here and get busy!”
What do you think of newer styles of writing?
Cope2: It’s cool man, it’s amazing! I see all these new styles of writing all around the world – it’s too much – I can’t understand it sometimes (laughs)! It’s crazy how graffiti has evolved. I’m like the second generation of New York writers, before me you’ve got the first generation, old school writers like RIFF170, TRACY168, PHASE2. To see it evolve from that: STAYHIGH149 to motherfuckers like, DAIM, CAN2 and SWET in Europe and MODE2, all these dope writers from Europe, it’s amazing man, it’s just fucking crazy! I don’t understand it sometimes. It’s really an amazing art form, graffiti!
What about characters?
Cope2: Well, I’m not in to characters much. I mean I used to do them back in the early ‘80s on the subways, and characters are important especially if you’re doing a wall, but not even. You can do a burner, and it can all just be about letters and style, but if a dude is down for doing characters, it’ll hook up the wall, flava up the wall, or the train. Characters are important sometimes, especially if you do some dope b-boy characters, like my man, SERVE; and this kid AROE from England does some nice characters; CAN2 has his own style of dope characters. Characters are important especially if you want to add flava to a burner.
What are the differences between bombing and legal walls? Do you think there is a fundamental difference? Are legal walls ‘getting up’?
Cope2: The difference is that bombing is illegal; it’s the ‘real’ way of doing things. Graffiti was always illegal and I still bomb illegally. I can’t as much as I used to, I’m older now; you get into beef with the law, and I can’t really afford that, but I guess people have just got to do what’s best for them. I do everything; I paint canvases, and I still paint subway trains, I’m versatile. I do walls, I do legal walls, I go bombing, illegal and trackspots, I don’t care, I do it all. Legal walls are if you just want to paint somewhere without hassle, you can ask the owner, and you know, just get busy!
What do you think of graffiti being co-opted by the corporate world?
Cope2: I think it’s cool man. In reality, you know, the world turns and if an artist is going to get paid a lot to do some artwork for a company, you’re going to take it. I don’t care who you are. If you’re not going to take it you’re an idiot! Times are hard and at the end of the day you got to pay bills, and you got to put food on the table. You got to make your money, man. When you’re young it’s cool to be wiling out, bombing everything, but when you’re my age and nearly 40 years old already, you can’t be doing that too much. I live off graffiti, it might not be good for other people; there are other graffiti artists in New York that have good jobs, their own companies; I live off this, this is my living. So if a corporate company wants to hit me off for my artwork it’s all good, and now especially I have a manager, it’s only right. I’m going to make my money.
Do you think it lessens the power of graffiti?
Cope2: No, not really because, where I was a hardcore, legendary bomber of New York, now I’m more into making money. However, there are kids younger than me who I speak to, who are doing what I was doing, so everyday there is a newborn, hardcore graffiti bomber. A lot of these hardcore writers, they’re always like, “damn, I hope some day I can come out with a sneaker, or do some canvases and sell some paintings”. The way I see it, you’ve got to make money, man. That’s what it boils down to. Who cares if they say, “you’re selling out”. You’ve got to make your money, man, live your life, and do what’s best for you.
Is graffiti art?
Cope2: To me it’s the best style of art because it goes in so many directions. Graffiti goes from hardcore, illegal to legal, to corporate, to subways. Of course it’s art. You can call it what you want, ‘vandalism’, etc… it comes in all shapes and forms. That’s how it is.
What do you think about graffiti in the fine art world, for example galleries, museums, etc?
Cope2: I think it’s cool, you know, like I said, I’m into canvases, SEEN is into canvases, a lot of writers: DAZE, you’ve got BANKSY – he’s not a graffiti artist, he’s more of a street artist, but you know he’s making his money – and OBEY, but again these guys are more ‘street art guys’. You’ve got graffiti artists like, SHARP, T-KID and SEEN doing canvases, and making a living off of it. I think it’s cool. They should open a museum for graffiti artists. Why not? Have some of the old dinosaur graffiti artists from back in the days. I think that would be dope to have. Because graffiti comes in all shapes and forms, combining all different concepts, at the same time you have an artist doing a show at a gallery, you have a kid down the block bombing buildings, bombing trains. That’s why to me it’s the best art form. Not only because I do it, but because it’s not just one art that only stays on canvas, or only stays on trains. It’s versatile, it’s everywhere, look at it, you’ve got it on Adidas, and probably down the block you have it on the side of a building. That shows you how powerful and amazing graffiti art is.
What do you see as the distinction between the artist, Banksy, and yourself?
Cope2: I don’t know, man, I’m more of the ‘real deal’… I represent graffiti art – trains and bombing. Banksy’s not really a graffiti artist. To me he’s just a street artist. Everyone is different though, which is cool, because it balances things out. He has his audience of fans, and I have my audience of fans; some people like his stuff, and some people like mine, and maybe some people like both of our styles. Maybe we do a show together, it would be amazing! Graffiti art, original graffiti art, by one of the best at graffiti art, and one of the best at stencil art, or street art, whatever the fuck you want to call it!
What do you think about using stencils in graffiti?
Cope2: To me using a stencil, it’s not that real, but I’m not going to knock it. I mean I could go around putting up COPE stencils, and adding a little mouse to it or something. What’s amazing is the amount of money Banksy makes off of it. You’ve got to give it to him, he’s making his, and I’ve got to make mine, but I still keep it pure and real. If you see my sneakers you see the real graffiti, GRAFFITI KINGZ, you see the COPE throw-ups. KILLER DOGZ. KINGZ DESTROY.
What do you think about the Internet in relation to graffiti? What about magazines, zines, etc.? Is the internet part of getting up?
Cope2: I remember 10-15 years ago there used to be graffiti magazines everywhere, now there’s only a handful from certain countries because of the Internet. You take a flik of a piece today, and put it on the internet, already the whole world knows, the whole world has seen it. Today a lot of writers use the Internet for the purpose of getting up. I think that’s kind of a short cut to fame. Some kids don’t pay their dues, they’ll do a burner or a throw-up and put it on the Internet, everyone sees it – they heard of the kid already, but if you look into the background of the writer, he didn’t do anything, he didn’t pay his dues, he hasn’t been around. So it’s kind of like a quick, short cut to fame, but you know that’s what it is and you’ve just got to go with the flow.
If you could go back in time knowing what you know now, and use all the time, effort and dedication that made you so famous in graffiti for a different purpose, would you and if so for what?
Cope2: I always wanted to be a boxer because as a kid, growing up in the South Bronx, in the projects, I was always getting into fights. I took up boxing for a while, but then I had a kid at a young age so I had to start working, and not only that, but getting high and drinking beer, hanging out with the wrong crowd, I stopped going to the gym, but, I love boxing. I actually got Mike Tyson tattooed on my arm – he’s one of my idols. I’ve been watching Tyson since, like, ’85. You know, just watching him fight, he was explosive. I love boxing as a sport – it’s my favourite. If I hadn’t been a graffiti artist, I would have loved being a boxer, a world champion though. You know, pure blood line, you don’t get no purer than me. I’m not trying to be egotistic or anything, but you know, I’m the purest. I come from the Bronx, and that’s what it is. I ain’t none of these fake phoney Joes or nothing, I’m the real deal!