• Interview: COPE2 on the Obey x COPE2 Takeover

    COPE2 has teamed up with his buddies at Obey to bring you a new collection sold exclusively at Urban Outfitters, titled Obey x COPE Takeover, which is inspired by his past, his friendship with Shepard and NYC street art.
    Interview by Lorin Brown

    Who were your peers/collaborators coming up as a writer?

    It was the NYC subways that got me into being a graffiti writer and my cousin who also tagged his name up in the late '70s. Man, those subway cars had some amazing art painted on them and I always wanted to put my name on them as well and see my name "COPE2" roll through all the five boroughs of NYC. They were like moving museums of art. What a great time; good memories.

    When you first started showing in galleries what was the transition like going from writing and painting on walls to creating work meant to be viewed in a art shows?
    The Christie's Guernsey Auction in 1999 in NYC was having a huge graffiti art sale and I was contacted by them to submit some pieces. I never really did my art on canvas, but I heard this was a huge thing so I submitted three paintings and two sold for a pretty good price. I was surprised, so that's what pretty much got me started and going into the direction of doing galleries. I was getting a bit too old to be painting on trains and walls and I've been really successful in doing so worldwide in galleries, museums, auctions and private collections.

    Do you find a lot has changed in your gallery work since then? In process or otherwise?
    Yes for sure. When you're a graffiti artist, you're more into your original style with lettering. Now that I'm doing my art on canvas, I focus more on making it a real authentic painting which I go beyond just doing wild style graffiti letters. I do more mixed media with my paintings which look really amazing.

    What outside of graffiti influences you?
    Just great energy, great people, good music, my partner, Indie 184, my kids, my family, good vibes, positive energy, and even negative energy sometimes can influence an artist on their work.

    What other artists are you into right now outside of graffiti?
    I love Jean Michel Basquiat's work. One of my idols is Keith Harring—another amazing artist. I love Pablo Piccasso, KAWS, Kenny Scharf, Shepard Fairey, Swoon, Fafi, Mr. Brainwash, José Parlá. I love all of their work, it's so inspiring.

    How did you meet Shepard Fairey?
    I've known Shepard Fairey for a while now. We both were legendary characters in Marc Eckō's video game called Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure! So we've always spoke about doing something together which I though was a brilliant idea and we finally came together and making it happen.

    How did this new collection with Obey come about?
    Steve from Obey approached me during Art In The Streets in the private opening reception at the L.A. MOCA and I was like, "Sure why not? Let's make it happen." And we just kept in contact through email concerning the project and we're here now and it looks amazing. I love it—another great Obey and COPE2 collaboration.

    Can you tell us a little bit about the photographic tee?
    Yes, that's an original picture I took of my piece painted on an NYC subway car back in 1983 and I loved how if you look you can see the buildings in the background and I knew if Obey was around back then pasting his iconic image he wouldve pasted it on the top of one of the buildings, so we did it in photoshop. It looked perfect and was such a great idea, plus they loved it as well so we went forward with it. 

    Do you have any other shows or collaborations coming up that you'd like to talk about?
    I'm working on several group shows here in NYC at the Krause Gallery and the Jonathan Levine Gallery for July and August, then a solo art show in Köln (Cologne), Germany with Ruttkowski 68 Gallery September 6, and more solo shows in London, Detroit, and Paris this year. So, I'm pretty much busy which is good and I'm grateful. 

    Where can we find you online?
    You can check me out on my site at website or my Instagram @mrcope2. Thank you!

    Shop the Obey x COPE Takeover Collection