The pandemic has been tough on all of us. This unprecedented event has caused many to lose their means of livelihood, plunging many into poverty and destitution.
One category of people that have been most affected by this is artists. With most art galleries and museums across the world shut down, artists across the world are finding it increasingly difficult to sustain.
And here is the story of one artist who is going doing all he can to help his fellow artists.
43-year-old New York based artist Guy Stanley Philoche is renowned for his colorful textured abstract artworks and his own paintings sell for over $100,000.
However, in these tough times, Philoche has spent more than $65,000 in buying work from struggling artists across the world.
It all started when one of Philoche’s friends, who had just become a father, lost his job due to the pandemic, finding it very difficult to make ends meet. And to help his friend in distress, Philoche bought a painting from him.
This made him realize that there could be other artists that are facing such adversities too.
“I told him, ‘Don’t worry, we’re New Yorkers. We’ve been through 9/11, the blackout, the market crash, we’ve got this,'” Philoche said. “But he was scared, so I bought a painting from him to help him get through it. It was such a big deal for him at that moment, and that’s when I realized if he’s panicking like this, other artists are too.”
To ensure that he help his community, Philoche put up a post on Instagram in March asking artists from all over the globe to message him directly with their work if they were finding it difficult to sustain during the pandemic. And soon enough, his inbox was flooded with messages.
Whenever he loved a piece of art, he bought it from the artist and even paid the shipping charges for it to be shipped to his East Harlem studio.
“So many people have reached out to me, telling me the piece I bought was the first art they ever sold,” Philoche said. “It meant a lot to me. I want to help as many artists as possible, to make sure they are able to buy groceries, or pay their rent, or get their kids diapers or formula.”
And quite a few artists were overwhelmed by the gesture of Philoche.
“There was this one artist who had never sold anything in his whole life. I was like, ‘Hey man, I love your work. And you know what, I’m buying two pieces,’” he says. “And he was just like, ‘I’ve never sold anything before. Oh my god.’”
And how did his journey with art begin for Philoche?
Philoche’s family immigrated from Haiti to the United States when he was merely 3 years old.
“Leaving one country to come to another was difficult. I didn’t speak the language, I was awkward and weird and trying to find myself in a new country,” Philoche said. “I learned the language by watching cartoons and reading comics, and found my voice by drawing Disney characters. It’s how it all started.”
And he does admit that he did not find much support in his early days. However, with time, things got better and he became a famous name in the art circles. And this makes him want to give back to his community and support other struggling artists.
“Fast forward twenty years, I’m in the game,” he said. “But throughout those years, I had no one open a door for me. It was me going through the back door, the window, until I found a way in the room by myself. Now that I have a seat at the table and I actually have a voice, I vowed to myself to open that door for other artists.”
“Art saved my life. I owe it a debt I could never repay, but the only way to really repay it is by buying other art from someone who hasn’t gotten a big break yet. And that’s what I’m going to keep doing,” he said.
Isn’t this just a beautiful gesture from Philoche? What do you think? Do share your views with us in the comments section below.