Guy Stanley Philoche

By Brian Aker | Photos courtesy of Guy Stanley Philoche

Guy Stanley Philoche has become one of his generation’s most collected artists for his striking works of dynamic range, embracing pop culture, abstracts, and slices of New York City life depicted in paintings that always catch the eye. The Haitian-born Philoche has carved out his niche in the art world and garnered a fervent fanbase and international recognition through his tenacity, technique, and talent.

His work can be seen in fine galleries and private collections of those who have discovered his work organically, through word-of-mouth, and via the newest social media tool. Philoche has taken to this modern approach in marketing saying, “We’re in a society with that whole “struggling artist’ thing exists. You don’t have to do that with technology. We have TikTok and Instagram. Millions of people can look at your work in a heartbeat. Social media overall is a game changer for our community.”

Philoche says he sees its impact among his peers, “I know artists who are super famous and demanding millions of dollars for their work, and I have friends who haven’t had their big break yet but are artists who do very well without having a gallery. They all do everything themselves on Instagram, which has expanded visibility for artists, to everyone’s benefit.”  

The art of cultivating broader exposure was pioneered by two of Philoche’s idols, “I love Andy Warhol, not just because of his work, but the way he played that role as an artist. He became a celebrity in his own right; when Andy Warhol was walking down the street, everyone knew who he was. Also, I admire Jeff Koons; how he managed his career is incredible. Jeff Koons is a business. He became this brand, and I think that’s amazing.”

As for his own career trajectory, he humbly says, “Art saved my life many days when I was young. But then, I could’ve gone down the wrong path. I owe a debt that I could never pay back, but I also made a promise to myself. I vowed that once I’m in the room and have a seat at the table, I will always open doors for people. I have a philosophy that I’ve lived by ever since I moved to New York City. Every time I sell a painting, I buy a painting from an upcoming artist, and now I live in a museum.”

The artist, who now lives in Harlem, loves New York but cautions that one minute you’re up and the next moment something great happens. “That’s why people fight hard to stay here because your life could change in a heartbeat. Just walking out the door. I’m a product of it.”

Growing up in suburban Connecticut, Philoche knew in his teens what he was destined to do, but his Haitian-immigrant parents did not always encourage his aspirations. Philoche recalls, “With our Caribbean background, I was told to either become a lawyer, doctor, engineer, or work at some government job. And then, one night, I told my parents that I was going to art school, and they were not happy. So, they gave me the alternative of attending a trade school instead of a university. And I told them I would not be doing that, so I left home when I was 17 years old and never looked back.”

For some artists, inspiration is fleeting, but for Philoche, he says, “This is New York City, where you can walk down the street and be inspired. I can randomly see something or someone amazing. Even staying in my apartment, there is so much to see. I’ve been truly fortunate that I can run with inspiration through 20 to 30 paintings of a series, and when I’m over it, I can move on to a new one.”

While artists often concern themselves with legacies and reputation, Philoche is clear on his. When asked how art historians will one day describe him, Philoche answers, “As the people’s artist.”

For more information on Guy Stanley Philoche, visit him on Instagram @guystanleyphiloche