Fernando Carlo, born in 1968 and more commonly known by his world renown Cope2 artistic signature, earned his name as a young man in Kingsbridge New York. A best friend at the time whom is only known as “Kope” was the precursor to the legacy of Cope2. An unsuccessful graffiti writer, he was arrested early on for crimes that went hand in hand with the nature of his art and thus gave up the lifestyle in 1982. By passing the name off to Fernando who altered the name with a “C” and the number 2, to demonstrate his being a second generation artist, Kope set in motion a series of events that would have roots in urban culture from that moment forward.
Fernando’s inspiration stems from his cousin Chico, or “Chico 80”, whom Fernando says was more like an older brother. Chico took Fernando out on subways in the city and exposed him to the culture. With art all around him, Cope2 began writing in 1978 and has continued doing so today, 35 years later.
Cope2 has now done art work for companies such as Adidas, Converse and Time Magazine as well as giving a hand in developing a video game known as “Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure”, a game based entirely upon getting your name “up” as a graffiti artist by painting murals throughout the city. In 2003, Fernando also published his first book known as “Cope2: True Legend”, a biography about his roots, his introduction to graffiti and where his career has taken him. Yet all that glitters is not gold, as Fernando found out through various trials not only including law enforcement but other graffiti artists as well. Fernando was arrested in September 2010 on two counts of felony mischief,and a single count of misdemeanour graffiti for allegedly spray painting subway cars in a Manhattan tunnel a year prior.
Since Fernando’s founding of his trademark bubble letter style in 1978, his style has evolved into a much more creative, in-depth image with paintings ranging from 20 foot long abstract wildstyles to seemingly three dimensional characters and life-like figures. Cope claims he gained his inspiration from other writers such as “Chico 80” (his cousin), “Tracy168”, “Mark198”, “Bank2” and “Dan Plasma”, among others. Though capable of very large and intricate pieces, Cope’s large success is accredited mainly to his simple bubble letter style “throwie” that originated decades ago. While still referring to himself as a “graffiti king turned legend”, Fernando attempts to humble himself by stating that graffiti culture has evolved so much and come so far from what he knew growing up that there are new styles out there which he himself is incapable of recreating.
Fernando was moderately successful at not getting caught throughout the course of any of his illegal endeavours. From selling drugs to grabbing a backpack full of spray cans and going out to the local train yard for a “bombing” session, Fernando gained a sense of awareness that would make his criminal graffiti record EXTREMELY minute in comparison with the actual amount of illegal graffiti that he was actually responsible for putting up. With financial stability and a little breathing room becoming a more prominent part of his day-to-day life, Mr. Carlo has since foregone his younger more rebellious ways of thievery and drug sales to concentrate on his art. Mr. Carlo was quoted saying: “I have to look at it as a business. It’s how I make a living now”. With new opportunities becoming more readily available every day, all should have faith that Fernando “Cope2” Carlo will continue perfecting his craft in a semi-legal way until his dying day.