Chris Marmier - my glorious technicolor life

One of MAISON 10's more colorful artists, Chris Marmier has committed everyone from Cleopatra, David Bowie and superheroes, drag queens on a Saturday night, a cross-dressing truck driver, and Tom and Henri's wedding to paint.

Born in a bi-cultural family and living in several countries, he’s fascinated by wildlife, but everything around him is a source of inspiration, whether identity, gender, sexuality, nature, environment, culture, or politics. And each of his artworks tells a story. 

In this, the latest in an occasional series of artist Q&As, he talks about the voices he hears in his head, making a home in Homesterdam, and words of advice for a Barbie-loving little boy. 

Drawing is just something I do ...

When I was a kid, I covered sheets of paper drawing people and speaking out loud at the same time, with a voice for each character. Drawing was playing. I had millions of stories to tell that kept me busy. I was mostly silent, shy, scrutinizing people, and remembering all the little details that I would use for my next drawings.

Stories are popping into my head at any moment ...

And I feel the urge to put it down in colors. I mostly keep the voices to myself when I’m drawing, but if I think I’m alone in the room you might hear a bunch of people speaking. 

My stories are more elaborate now, and I often have to do a lot of research because I want everything to be right – the clothes, the environment, the sizes, the colors, the animal behavior, etc. Even if I’m using my imagination, I like to be truthful. Drawing is also learning.  

I’m less quiet now, but if I’m not saying anything and I’m looking at you from head to toe, don’t worry, I’m just scanning you.

Me and M10

I discovered my dearest Tom 20 years ago in a restaurant in Paris. We were sitting at a table where we barely knew the other people and Tom didn’t speak a word of French (editor's note: Tom swears he came out of the womb fluent in French!). 

I met sweet Henri 10 years later, after hearing so much about him and finally I saw these two most amazing men walk down the aisle together (actually I didn’t see the ceremony because I went to the wrong side of town!). 

And MAISON 10 discovered me exactly one year ago. It’s a long love story.

Me and NYC

As a teenager, moving to New York was my ultimate dream (in high school, my family and I used to live in Mexico). A few months before my graduation, my parents asked me where I wanted to study. I told them Parsons School of Design in New York. They asked me to do some research and when I told them the costs, they decided I had to go study in Paris. 

NYC still has a special place in my heart, but I fell in love with Amsterdam, where I moved a few years ago and which I call Homesterdam. It has everything of a big city condensed in a small city, but without all the cons, and the countryside is just a few minutes away by bike. The symbol of Amsterdam is the only (or first?) tattoo that I have on my body.

The book that changed my life

When I was a kid, I hated the books we had to read for school. They were all old French literature with boring stories, boring people who spoke in a boring way in a boring period, and nothing very interesting happened. And most boring of all – it was homework! So I only enjoyed reading comics. 

But when I was 15 I discovered my favorite author, Toni Morrison, and that was a very nice introduction to literature. The first book I read of hers was Beloved. Since then I’ve loved reading and there’s always a new book that will influence my life and my work. Last year I made a painting called The Bluest Eye, after Toni Morrison’s first novel.

The quality I value most in people

First of all: honesty. Whether you’re super nice or extremely bitchy, you have to mean it otherwise it’s just faking and you’re not showing your true self. And only then I can start appreciating your other qualities.

I don’t really like competing with others … 

I prefer improving what I do and I put enough pressure on myself. If someone is better than me in one field, I’m definitely better in another one.

My proudest moment of all time?

I haven’t reached it yet. I have some proud moments but the proudest one is still to come, otherwise it would take away all the fun.

My hopes/goals for 2022

I hope the world will learn the lessons that this pandemic is teaching us and that things will be done to change the insanities of humankind. 

And my goal is to bring more colors to this world.

A few words of advice for young Chris …

Keep doing all the things you like to do, at your own pace, because that’s what you’ll be best at. Don’t lose yourself trying to be like others. And don’t worry if you’re not allowed to have a Barbie because “it’s for girls.” One day you will start buying many!

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