The first step was to retrace the route of my walk (updating it at the same time!) and track down this character. It was immediately obvious that Anne was right - this fellow was everywhere! But who is he, and who is the artist behind him?
Although I wasn't familiar with these creations, the style and the character was definitely something I'd seen before. At one point, this man on a ladder even meets the character I already knew - the 'homme à la bouée', a creature already very visible in this part of Paris. Clearly the same artist was behind both, but in theory it would be easier to find out something about the creator of the man in the rubber ring rather than the more recent ladder dweller.
Just above the crouching man, is this the only 'aborted' space invader in Paris?
However, although these creations are also very visible online, the artist behind them is more difficult to dig out. As is the case with many street artists, no official credit has been taken for them, and they are not even signed with any kind of alias. All that seems to be known is that the artist refers to them as 'gugusses' - a kind of clown.
The artist's technique is a clever one. Carry the man and a very short ladder to the scene of the pasting, then extend the ladder as long as is necessary using charcoal and chalk!
Dig a little deeper though, and a name begins to appear; Philippe Hérard. A video portrait of the artist in his studio - situtated in the vicinity of these creations - confirms that this is indeed the man behind the characters. His official website also displays many other creations on similar themes.
A name then, but what about the motivations of the artist? Why does an established artist who has already developed a series of characters on canvas choose to take them outside of his studio and on to the walls of the city around him? We could assume it to be a form of publicity if it wasn't for the fact that this pasting is done anonymously. Did he feel instead that these 'gugusses' were trapped in his studio, and needed the freedom the city walls? Although I have discovered his name, I'm sure he would prefer me to be investigating the questions these 'gugusses' are asking us.
Seen something in Paris that has caught your eye but remains a mystery, or ever wondered about obscure people or events in the city's past? Challenge me to find the answers.