To celebrate the launch of Mountain Dew Kickstart, a fruit-infused breakfast beverage that occupies the space between juice, coffee, soda, and energy drinks (market research says there’s a space there, so there is), the company hooked up with legendary graffiti artist Cope2 for a cool project. They rented studio space near the Brooklyn Navy Yard and had the Bronx native (birth name Fernando Carlo) reimagine the logos of a few select magazines. They also sent a car, and I enjoyed weaving in slow motion through the Satmar Hasidic community of Williamsburg, marveling at their religious garb and the fact that Purim pop-up stores exist ("For All Your Purim Needs").
When I finally got to the studio at around noon–up the rickety elevator and along the dark, battleship-gray corridors–the gregarious artist got right to work on the BlackBook logo, wasting no time in creating an edgy, city-inspired work of art that takes the brand’s moody edge and gives it just the right dose of street style. It was fun to watch him make it, a process that took no more than half an hour. At first it seemed kind of bubbly and formless, but once he added the black lines between the letters and the dripping effect, it really popped off the canvas. How do you get the lines so sharp? I asked. "Thirty years of practice," Cope answered.
It’s actually more than thirty years. Cope started tagging subway cars and buildings back in 1978, as a pre-teen, soon becoming one of the city’s most prolific–and wanted–street artists. Plenty of run-ins with the law ensued, and, banking on a talent that surpassed most of his peers, he went mainstream, having since done work for everyone from Converse to Mark Ecko to Time magazine. (There’s still the occasional arrest, though. You can take the artist out of the streets, but you can’t take the streets out of the artist.)
Now, Cope’s art, which extends beyond tagging to elaborate oil paintings and other multi-media projects, is visible in galleries and other public spaces around the world. And here he was in Brooklyn, spraying away at the canvas as I sipped a can of orange citrus Kickstart (tastes good, gets you going). It’s amazing to see him work, his mind moving even faster than his hands as his vision unfolds on the canvas. In what seemed like no time at all, he was finished and we were posing in front of the slickest magazine logo out there. Of course, he also created a logo for Mountain Dew Kickstart, which is a bit more elaborate.
I gave him a copy of the latest Vibe, our sister publication, and he whipped up a logo for them as well. I’ll let them present it to you. Again, we admired his work and chatted a bit about the process, before he painted over it and started on the next one. Even in the studio, graffiti art is an ephemeral thing. Enjoy it while you can. And a big thank-you to Mountain Dew. If only every press event was this fun.
Photos by Sarah Hoppes.
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