Barrelling down the roads of India are some of the most beautiful and creative examples of self-expression on the world’s roads! Taking street art to a whole different level, these trucks—painted in bright, bold colors with personal emblems emblazoned on them—are an eyecatching staple all throughout the country. But they’re way more than beautiful; they’re making the roads safer!

Can the art that decorates our spaces actually make life better? Could personal objects in our cars, murals on the walls, and sculptures in the parks strengthen our connection to home? And could they actually make our communities safer?

To explore this, we’re taking a trip to the streets of India on this edition of Saturdays Around the World. It’s here that we’ll find gorgeous examples of a folk art that has brought more safety to their busy streets!

Image: Birds painted on the back of a truck

Truck back with dove painting, Sirhind
Courtesy of Shantanu Suman

“There are two distinct languages. There is the verbal, which separates people… and there is the visual that is understood by everybody.” — Yaacov Agam

Our connection to art is like nothing else. It’s our key to communicating with each other without speech! And when we adorn where we are, it reflects who we are. Without speech or even our physical presence, we can communicate where we’re from, who we love, and what brings us joy. You know — the very things that are so easy to forget when we’re deep in the routines of life.

But these truck drivers have found a way to bring a bit of home with them as they cruise the country for days at a time.

Their beautiful trucks are a representation of them on four wheels. Garnished in bold colors, designs, and symbols that hold meaning in their lives, and so much more, these trucks bring a certain sparkle to the road. But it goes way beyond that: these trucks are spreading the word of safety as they travel throughout the country.

For a look at how this traditional folk art is done, what their impact has been on the culture, and to see some seriously awesome trucks, check out this video from Vox! Their series, Borders, brings us inside the lines on the map that divide us. Journalist Johnny Harris introduces us to the human stories that live in these borders, and gives us a look at the world in a way that most of us wouldn’t have the chance to without the efforts of him and his team. This playlist of their entire series is a great place to explore more after this piece!

Via: Vox 1

** So you probably noticed the swastikas in the video. Here’s a little history on this symbol (that was used originally as a sign for well-being 5,000 years before it was co-opted by Nazis) from BBC!

Want to see more great content from Vox? Check out their entire YouTube Channel! And of course, give them a follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay up to date with their work.

Self-expression helps us feel at home

When we add a little of ourselves to where we spend the majority of our time, that space suddenly improves. It’s not a coincidence, it’s a comfort. We are happier when we are comfortable. And the ways that we design our spaces are a critical part of that!

Just take a look at the results of this study on how spaces impact us in this article published by Inside Science. Experimental interior designers discuss how lights and colors impact us and even affect our health!

“One 15-year longitudinal study found that when people are able to work in conditions that broadly match their personal preferences, they judge the lighting to be of higher quality and the office to be more attractive; these people tend to be in a more positive mood, to be more focused on their work, and to show better well-being at the end of the workday.”

Now imagine that you’re a truck driver spending up to (if not more than) 24 hours straight on the road. Having the space to reflect what you love can not only help your mental health but keep you safe and more alert! (The messages of safety adorned on the truck help with that too!)

If you’d like to dive into truck art further…

You definitely don’t want to miss this next video! This phenomenal documentary directed by Shantanu Suman and produced by Talkies Films brings us deep into the world of this beautiful folk art. There’s so much to this art form! Dive deeper with this…

You can see more projects from Shantanu Suman by visiting his website! And learn more about the Horn Please documentary by clicking here.

Here are some beautiful photos he shared with us!

Image: Two brightly painted trucks next to each other. One is adorned with a bird.

Painted truck backs, Sirhind
Courtesy of Shantanu Suman

Image: Man working on the window of a truck

Working on a truck window
Courtesy of Shantanu Suman

Image: Front of a truck

Decorated truck front
Courtesy of Shantanu Suman

Image: Truck driver sitting in the cab

Truck Driver, New Delhi
Courtesy of Shantanu Suman

Image: The painted side panels of a truck

Former Indian president and lion image painted on side panels of truck
Courtesy of Shantanu Suman

Image: The inside of a truck cab decorated with flowers

Truck cabin interiors with artificial flowers
Courtesy of Shantanu Suman

See more great images by heading to the “process” tab at ProjectHornPlease.com!

How could art impact your life?

If we were allowed to get more creative and have more fun with safety reminders—as we saw on these trucks—could that actually help people adopt them?

What would that look like in your town? Eye-catching street signs? Busses painted to represent the message?

Or what about what it means for you, individually. Does what you bring around with you every day remind you of who you are?

These articles may spark a few ideas!

18 minutes

Graffiti: The Language of the City

Discover the impact that taking art to the streets can have on a city, and why this expression is so important!

Read More

7 minutes

The Pieces of a Passion Project

There's something unexplainably relaxing about finding yourself lost in your craft, whatever that craft may be. Suska Matsik, a talented mosaic artist, describes her connection to her process in the most beautiful way.

Read More

11 minutes

Trolls We Can All Come to Love!

What if we slowed our impulse to create new "stuff", and instead, focused on using what we already have in excess? Take trash for example. Is there endless potential in the things we are discarding? Here's is someone who is pointing to possibility in a wondrous way!

Read More

Stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” — Albert Einstein 

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Notes:

  1. Vox. “India’s Trucks Are Works of Art.” YouTube, Vox, 17 July 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlriwanO4e4&feature=youtu.be. Accessed 22 Aug. 2019.
  2. Suman, Shantanu. “HORN PLEASE.” Vimeo, Shantanu Suman, 13 Mar. 2016, vimeo.com/158847126. Accessed 22 Aug. 2019.

Sam Burns

Chief Administrative Officer, Head Staff Writer

Sam is a listener, creator, collector of knick-knacks and lover of most, if not all, types of cheese.