Artist Spotlight: C215

They say that practice makes perfect. That has proven true for the street artist Christian Guémy who has spent over 20years honing his craft. Known all over the world as C215. Known primarily first for graffiti then stencil work, the artist has a philosophical approach to life and art.

C215 was born in Paris back in 1973. From the time he was a child, c215 had an interesting life. His mother was also an artist, she spent her time creating drawings and frequently engaging in smoking cigarettes. When she committed suicide at 18 years old, C215 was left with his grandmother who fueled the artistic passion.

His grandmother took him to the space where his mother used to work and from there the art and Christian Guémy were one. He even joked that earlier he would steal girl’s notebooks and leaving drawings in them. The girls would open their books and gasp with surprise. As he grew up the passion grew even bigger but he had to make money and support himself.

Before becoming the renowned artist that he is now, C215 held regular jobs. He worked as an export manager for luxury furniture, worked in the financial markets and also conducted a market study for the furniture trade union.

All these varied experiences between working a regular 8-5 job, his studies and being a freelance artist has contributed to the man that you see now.  He has an interesting approach to his artwork and perception of life.

Unfortunately or fortunately, C215 has faced some prison time. The cell in which he was held was number 215. He decided to use his cell number as his art pseudonym, which to this day he is known by. If it were not for that prison time, we probably wouldn’t have the powerhouse logo that is C215.

His work

Before all the fame, Christian Guémy was versed in what he wanted to do. Considering that he got a master’s degree in art history he got a chance to work in an encyclopedia of crafts projects. His main focus being the history behind cabinets, plaster and stucco decorations.

c215 artwork on street

He went on further to study the 17th-century religious architecture and classic French architecture to give him a better understanding of the skillsets used in those days.

c215 madonna and child

C215 is well versed in the ways of street art. He has 20 years under his belt using spray cans to create works of art. He started using stencil in 2006 to make art when he was looking to make a portrait of his daughter and her mother. It proved successful and he started going at it seriously.

mural by c215 cat in tunisia

By 2007, he had galleries interested in his work and it became the main source of income for him. Seeing that he was dedicated to stenciling every day he compiled an enormous collection of art. In the beginning of this journey, he worked with the powerhouse Banksy which made his name be known by those who had not heard of it.

You can find his art in the walls of Paris and major cities in the world. He believes in creating street art that blends while sending the right message. Most stencil drawings tend to lack dimensions. His art has layers of vibrancy giving you that 3D feel. The colors draw you in, leaving you lost in wonderful detail.

c215 artwork near magazine rack

His work is focused on creating portraits of normal people that are overlooked by the society. He is not interested in the celebrities or people who hold big positions in the society. His interest is to capture the uniqueness of street children, beggars, the babysitter, the homeless man on the street corner or anyone who receives no recognition.

He wanted people to look at his paintings and ask who the subject was. That intrigue and recognition of the forgotten ones in the society are all he is after. He believes that every human is unique and deserves to be recognized.

c215 artwork

He is not only a stencil artist. He has other hidden talents that he is still discovering. He has dabbled in media arts and installations. This only goes to show us that there is more to expect from the artist.

When asked what his artwork stood for he stated “In the end, behind the portraits, the question is always freedom and dignity in the face of a capitalist daily life system. “ He strongly believes that artwork should be shared among people. Just because people can’t afford gallery-based art does not mean that they cat view it from the street. Strong words behind a strong man.