To view the full article head over to

In the sprawling urban canvas of New York City, where graffiti tags serve as whispers from the streets, one name echoes with particular resonance—Cope2. Born in the South Bronx in the late 1960s, Cope2 has risen from the vibrant chaos of the city's subway art scene to become a defining figure in the world of graffiti. With a career spanning over four decades, his work is not just a visual feast but a testament to the enduring power of street art.

Cope2's journey into graffiti began in the early 1980s, a time when the Bronx served as a crucible for hip-hop culture. Graffiti, with its rebellious spirit and bold expressions, became Cope2's chosen language, through which he could narrate his experiences, struggles, and the vibrancy of urban life. His signature style—dynamic, colorful, and instantly recognizable—features throw-ups and wildstyle pieces, highlighted by his iconic bubble lettering that has become synonymous with New York graffiti.

What sets Cope2 apart is not just his artistic talent but his ability to navigate the shifting landscapes of the graffiti world. From the subways and streets of the Bronx to prestigious galleries and collaborations with major brands, Cope2 has bridged the gap between underground art and mainstream recognition. His work not only adorns city walls but also graces canvases, clothing, and even video games, showcasing the multifaceted potential of graffiti as a legitimate and influential form of artistic expression.

Cope2's significance in the graffiti world transcends his artwork. He embodies the resilience, creativity, and community spirit of street art, inspiring generations of artists worldwide. Through his journey, Cope2 has helped elevate graffiti from ephemeral tags to a powerful medium of cultural expression, leaving an indelible mark on the urban landscape and the art world at large.

COPE x Train Car 1980

Cope2: The Beginning

The story of Cope2, born Fernando Carlo, Jr., is deeply intertwined with the gritty and vibrant tapestry of the Bronx during the 1970s and 1980s—a period when New York City was a crucible of cultural innovation amidst urban adversity. Growing up in this environment, where graffiti was as much a part of the landscape as the buildings it adorned, Cope2 was drawn into the world of street art as a young teenager. The Bronx, known as the birthplace of hip-hop and a hotspot for graffiti artists, offered a tumultuous yet fertile ground for his artistic aspirations.

In those early years, the subway trains of New York City became moving galleries for graffiti artists, showcasing their work to a citywide audience. It was against this backdrop that Cope2 started making his mark. Initially, like many of his peers, he engaged in tagging—writing his name in bold, stylized letters across the borough. These early forays into graffiti were not just acts of artistic expression but also of defiance, a way for young people to claim space and identity in a city that often seemed to overlook them.

Cope2's transition from tagging to creating more complex pieces reflected his growing dedication to his craft. He became known for his "throw-ups," quick, stylized pieces that could be executed rapidly, yet still displayed his distinctive style. Over time, his work evolved to include elaborate wildstyle graffiti, characterized by intricate, interlocking letters and vibrant colors. This progression from simple tags to more complex artworks mirrored the evolution of graffiti itself during this period, from underground nuisance to a respected form of urban art.

Throughout his early years, Cope2 was not only honing his artistic skills but also navigating the challenges of the graffiti subculture. This world was competitive and sometimes dangerous, involving clashes with rival artists and run-ins with the law. Yet, it was also a community of like-minded individuals who shared a passion for expressing themselves in bold and colorful ways, against the backdrop of a city that was constantly changing.

Cope2's journey from a young tagger in the Bronx to a respected figure in the graffiti world encapsulates the transformative power of street art. It is a narrative of personal growth, resilience, and the relentless pursuit of expression, set against the complex social and cultural landscape of New York City. Through his work, Cope2 has contributed to the rich history of graffiti, marking the streets of the Bronx and beyond with his unique vision and indomitable spirit.

Cope 2 Colours

The artistic journey of Cope2 is a chronicle of evolution matching his streetwear influence, marked by a relentless pursuit of innovation within the graffiti realm Cope2 was the forefront. His style, dynamic and ever-changing, mirrors the rhythm of the streets from which it was born, evolving from simple tags to the complex, captivating creations that have cemented his status as a graffiti luminary. Central to this evolution has been the development of his signature bubble letters, a style that not only defines his work but has also become the iconic element of graffiti art worldwide.

In the nascent stages of his career, Cope2's work, like that of many graffiti artists of the time, focused on visibility and identity. His early tags, a declaration of existence amidst the urban sprawl, were simplistic yet bold, designed to stand out in the cluttered landscape of the Bronx. These tags were the seeds from which his artistic identity would grow, laying the foundation for many stylistic innovations that would follow.

As Cope2's confidence and aspirations grew, so did the complexity and sophistication of his art. He began experimenting with throw-ups, a style of graffiti that strikes a balance between speed and aesthetic appeal. It was here, in the curves and contours of his throw-ups, that the first iterations of his signature bubble letters began to take shape. These letters, with their rounded, almost voluminous form, offered a stark contrast to the sharp angles and rigid lines that dominated graffiti at the time. They were playful yet bold—embodying the essence of Cope2's approach to street art.

The evolution of Cope2's bubble letters can be seen as a reflection of his mastery over the medium. With each piece, he pushed the boundaries of what was possible with spray paint, experimenting with color, scale, and composition to create works that were visually striking and deeply personal. His bubbles grew more complex and stylized, incorporating intricate fills, shadows, and embellishments that added depth and movement to his work. This style became his trademark, a visual signature that was unmistakably Cope2.

But the significance of Cope2's bubbles extends beyond their aesthetic appeal. They represent a bridge between the old school and the new, between the raw, unfiltered energy of street graffiti and the polished sophistication of gallery art. Through his bubbles, Cope2 has engaged in a dialogue with the broader art world, challenging perceptions and inviting a reevaluation of graffiti's place within the contemporary art canon.

Moreover, Cope2's bubbles have had a profound influence on the next generation of graffiti artists. They have been replicated and reinterpreted, serving as a source of inspiration for countless artists around the globe. In this way, Cope2's style has transcended the confines of the Bronx, becoming a global language of creativity, rebellion, and expression.

In the realm of graffiti, styles come and go, but few leave a lasting imprint on the culture. Cope2's evolution from simple tags to iconic bubble letters is a testament to his ingenuity, resilience, and enduring impact on the art form. Through his work, Cope2 has not only shaped the trajectory of graffiti but has also ensured that his legacy will continue to inspire and resonate within the urban tapestry for generations to come.

Signature Styles

Cope2 stands as a towering figure in the graffiti world, not just for his distinctive bubble letters but for the rich tapestry of themes and styles that define his oeuvre. His work, deeply rooted in the experiences of urban life and the vibrant energy of the Bronx, spans a wide spectrum of subjects and techniques, reflecting both his personal journey and the broader cultural shifts within the graffiti community.

Urban Narratives and Social Commentary

At the heart of Cope2's work are the narratives of the city—stories of struggle, resilience, and the quest for identity in the sprawling urban landscape. His graffiti often serves as a mirror to the societal issues and dynamics of the communities he represents, from the hardships of street life to the celebration of cultural achievements. Cope2 uses his art as a platform for social commentary, embedding messages about unity, strength, and the importance of staying true to one's roots amidst the chaos of the city.

COPE 2 GTA San Andreas

COPE2 in GTA San Andreas

Dynamic Abstraction and Wildstyle

While Cope2 is best known for his bubble letters, his repertoire also includes a foray into more abstract and wildstyle graffiti. Wildstyle, characterized by its complex, interlocking letters and shapes, represents Cope2's exploration of form and movement. These pieces are intricate mazes of color and line, demonstrating his technical skill and his ability to push the boundaries of traditional graffiti aesthetics. Through these styles, Cope2 articulates the dynamic, ever-changing nature of urban environments, capturing the fluidity and chaos that define them.

Color and Energy

Color plays a pivotal role in Cope2's work, imbuing it with life and energy. His palette is often bold and vibrant, reflecting the intensity and diversity of the urban landscape. Through his use of color, Cope2 conveys emotions and atmospheres, from the raw, pulsating energy of the streets to moments of quiet reflection. His ability to manipulate color to evoke mood and response is a hallmark of his style, making each piece a visceral experience for the viewer.

Collaborations and Cross-Genre Works

Cope2's openness to collaboration and experimentation has led him to venture beyond the confines of traditional graffiti. He has worked with artists from a range of disciplines, incorporating elements of street art, fine art, and digital media into his creations. These collaborations have not only expanded his artistic vocabulary but have also bridged cultural and stylistic divides, fostering a dialogue between disparate artistic communities.

Legacy and Influence

Beyond his stylistic contributions, Cope2's greatest impact may be his role as a mentor and inspiration to younger artists. Through his work and his presence in the graffiti community, he has nurtured a spirit of resilience and creativity, encouraging emerging artists to find their voices and push the limits of their craft.

Cope 2 Teaching

Cope2, a name synonymous with the vibrant pulse of New York City's graffiti scene, embarked on a remarkable journey that transcended the raw, kinetic energy of street art to grace the refined spaces of gallery exhibitions worldwide. This transition from the tumultuous streets of the Bronx to the esteemed galleries represents not just a personal evolution for Cope2 but a significant cultural shift, acknowledging graffiti's potent blend of artistry and social commentary within the broader art world.

Initially etching his identity onto the urban canvas through bold tags and dynamic throw-ups, Cope2's work was a testament to the spirit of resilience and self-expression inherent in street art. His graffiti, characterized by its vibrant color schemes and iconic bubble lettering, captured the essence of urban life with an authenticity and immediacy that resonated deeply within the community.

The leap to gallery exhibitions marked a pivotal moment for Cope2 and graffiti, offering a platform to showcase the depth and breadth of his artistic vision. These exhibitions bridged the gap between the underground and the mainstream, challenging perceptions and elevating graffiti as a legitimate and powerful art form. Through this transition, Cope2 not only gained recognition among art aficionados but also played a crucial role in championing the artistic value of graffiti, demonstrating its capacity to engage, provoke, and inspire across diverse audiences.

This journey from street corners to gallery corners did not dilute the essence of Cope2's work; rather, it amplified his voice, allowing him to reach wider audiences while staying true to the core principles of street art. The transition underscored the fluidity and adaptability of graffiti, showcasing its evolution from ephemeral urban marks to celebrated pieces of cultural significance.

Cope2's movement into galleries is a testament to his enduring impact on the art scene, affirming that the power and authenticity of street art have a rightful place within the hallowed halls of galleries. His journey reflects the broader narrative of graffiti's acceptance and appreciation as an art form, marking a significant chapter in the history of contemporary art.

Live Fast Die Young x Cope 2 clothing

Impact on Urban Culture

Cope2's influence stretches far beyond the confines of the Bronx, resonating with a diverse array of artists and leaving an indelible mark on broader culture. His journey from the streets to international galleries has not only elevated his status as an icon in the graffiti world but has also showcased the profound impact that street art can have on contemporary art, fashion, music, and social movements.

Cope2 has served as a mentor and inspiration to countless emerging artists, sharing the lessons learned from his own experiences navigating the complexities of the graffiti scene. His willingness to collaborate with artists across various mediums and his open, inclusive approach to art have fostered a sense of community and solidarity among urban artists. Cope2's story, one of resilience, creativity, and transformation, offers a blueprint for artists seeking to carve their own paths in the challenging yet rewarding realm of street art.

Cope2's ability to bridge the gap between the raw authenticity of street graffiti and the curated spaces of galleries has challenged traditional notions of art, opening doors for other graffiti artists to receive recognition in the art world. His collaborations with major brands and appearances in mainstream media have further legitimized graffiti as a versatile and influential art form, capable of transcending its urban origins to make significant contributions to contemporary culture.

Beyond the art scene, Cope2's influence can be seen in the broader cultural landscape. His distinctive style and themes have permeated fashion, with streetwear brands incorporating graffiti-inspired designs that reflect his aesthetic. In music, Cope2's work has been featured in album art and music videos, symbolizing the deep connection between graffiti and the hip-hop culture that emerged from the same streets. Moreover, his story and art have inspired discussions around identity, community, and resistance, contributing to social movements that value authenticity and self-expression.

Cope2's international exhibitions and collaborations have also played a crucial role in spreading the ethos of New York City's graffiti scene worldwide. By sharing his vision and art on a global stage, he has not only elevated his own profile but has also spotlighted the vibrancy and significance of street art around the world. This global recognition has facilitated cultural exchanges, enriching the global art community and ensuring that the spirit of graffiti continues to inspire and evolve across borders.

Live Fast Die Young LFDY Hoodie x Cope2

Cope2's work and persona have been featured in various media outlets, documentaries, and books, providing a platform to share the narrative of graffiti culture with a broader audience. His appearances and interviews have offered insights into the motivations, challenges, and triumphs of graffiti artists, helping to shift public perception and foster a deeper appreciation for the art form's history and significance.

By actively participating in discussions, panels, and educational programs about street art and graffiti, Cope2 has become an advocate for the recognition and preservation of graffiti as a cultural heritage. His efforts to educate both the public and the art world about the roots and relevance of graffiti have been crucial in bridging the gap between street art and mainstream artistic recognition.

The enduring legacy of Cope2 lies not only in his contributions to the graffiti scene but also in his influence on generations of artists and the broader cultural landscape. By living at the intersection of traditional graffiti and contemporary art, Cope2 has inspired countless individuals to explore the possibilities of street art. His role in popularizing graffiti has paved the way for other artists to pursue their passions with a sense of legitimacy and pride.

Cope2 Today

Cope2's "UNHINGED" at D'Stassi Art is his first solo show in the UK, featuring from March 29 to April 13, 2024. This exhibition celebrates over 40 years of his influence in graffiti and street art, spotlighting the authentic and raw style that made him a legend in New York City's art scene. The show not only emphasizes Cope2's artistic journey but also D'Stassi Art's commitment to presenting groundbreaking talent in an inclusive and immersive environment .

Cope2 x Dstassi

Cope2, a legendary figure in graffiti and street art, has left an indelible mark on the art world. His journey from the streets of the Bronx to international acclaim showcases a dynamic blend of raw urban energy and sophisticated artistic expression. His influence extends beyond his vibrant murals, inspiring new generations of artists to explore and push the boundaries of street art. Cope2's legacy is a testament to the transformative power of graffiti, bridging underground and mainstream art cultures.