“I started making art, probably when I was 3 years old,” Alex tells me, but hesitates for a moment before adding: “Maybe when I was born. My mom said I was a very crazy character the first few months of my life, doing weird things, almost speaking to her. That’s a form of art, I’d say.” In his early years in Jamaica, Alex’s first medium was play-doh; he would concoct cars and other sculptures, eventually turning to paper and creating renditions of automobiles and vampires on the page.
He moved to Columbia, Maryland around the age of twelve, where he lived with his grandmother until the rest of his family moved up as well. He identifies the age of 15 as the time when he started taking his art more seriously. “It wasn’t until I was 15—I’m 22 right now—that I started taking sharing my art on the internet more seriously. And with that, the art gets innately more serious,” Alex tells me. Much of his experience in the art, fashion and NFT world can be chalked up to community and the network he’s fostered on social media in the past seven or so years.
The brand name and style that Headlam is known for now was born in 2020, a little bit before he dropped out of college. “I was in a position where I didn’t feel creatively liberated,” he tells me before diving into the moment he came up with the Cope moniker.
“I had this vision for a sculpture made out of a metal material that resembles a red Ferrari, kind of star circulating around me. And I tried to cut it out and put it on paper as a direct way to see it. But when I did that, it looked like a logo. So I scanned it and photoshopped it. And I’m like, this is something really special here. I look to the corner of my screen and I see the word ‘Cope’.” This moment would not just lead to the name itself, but a commitment to a dichotomous digital and physical production method that Headlam used for all 200 pieces of his recent book. More on that later.
“There’s an energy that I resonated with and I had to incorporate it [Cope]. I started making clothes under the name. And as time went on, I realized this is kind of a lifestyle that I’ve been living for I don’t even know how long,” Alex goes on. “To me, ‘Cope’ means to make the best out of any situation that you’re in and reinventing the perspective in which you see the world. Taking all the baggage and the negative, kind of making it a plus one instead of a negative.”