Currently studying graphic design at the University of Florida, Shantanu Suman’s submission for Student of the Month caught our eye as a well-executed and unusual take on a multifaceted issue – what’s more, it did it in a way that made us want to go out and learn more. The game Truckopoly is totally focussed on the trucking industry in India and the extraordinary paintings that cover the vehicles. In particular, it aims to educate its players about the marginalising of this whole sector of folk art which, up until this point of economic apocalypse, has been as crucial to the truck driver’s business as it was the painter’s livelihoods.
“The trucking industry of India has played an instrumental role in shaping the Indian trade and commerce for decades” Shantanu explains. “It is a common belief among the truck owners of India that a beautiful truck is good for business.” And, in the same vibrant colours, motifs and typo-vernacular of the trucks, he is also going some way into documenting a lesser known creative culture that is threatened with extinction.
At the time of making/creating this project, who or what was your biggest influence?
This project is completely inspired by the truck industry and the truck art of India. Truckopoly is my small tribute to the truck painters of India who have been following this beautiful tradition of automobile decoration for generations.
What is the most valuable thing you have learnt at university to date?
The School of Art and Art History at University of Florida is like an ocean of knowledge and talents. People (both professors and my friends) are so helpful and cooperative here. All you need is a good idea and you can find all the resources to make it happen. My experiences at the university have made me a humble person.
What would you be doing now if you weren’t at art school?
If I weren’t in art school, I would have either continued with my career in advertising, or would have been applying for art schools. The idea behind getting back to school was to find some time for my own projects and to work with designers/artists from various countries. It’s a great learning place.
Where are you making/creating most of your work?
As a graphic designer, most of my work is concept driven. So the thinking part of the projects can happen anywhere – home, studio, library or even Starbucks. Depending on the project requirement, the creation can happen either on my Macbook or at the school. But since the school has wonderful facilities of a letterpress studio, screen-printing studio etc. the production part generally happens there.
What are you working on at the moment?
Currently I am planning my research trip to India this summer. I will be there for a month and will try covering as many different states as possible. Since India is such a diverse country, the truck art of each state is slightly different from the others. Scheduling interviews and meetings with the truck painters and truck owners will need some planning. I also hope to meet some organisations interested in cultural preservation.