The Yak interrupted street artist Pan Trinity Das to get a glimpse into his life as a nomadic street artist.
First up, were you born with the name Pan Trinity Das?
Pan is an artist identity I picked up 13 years ago when I first started out as an Artist Solopreneur . . . and it’s stuck with me ever since. I felt like the previous me had too many limitations, whereas Pan could do anything!
Where are you from?
Surprisingly enough, I’m a farm kid! I come from a small town in rural Ontario, Canada. Although I love it, it’s a place where most never dream of leaving . . . and those that do never really return.
Was it always art for you, or did you ever consider working in, say, a call centre?
I started painting at 16 and I was hooked immediately. Now I’m 32 and I’ve spent half my life consumed by paint. Although I’m passionate about industrial design, fashion, jewellery, photo/videography and tattoos, I always return to painting. It’s funny that you say that though … straight out of high school I did actually work at a call center. It was the last ‘real’ job I ever had. It took four months for them to fire me. I haven’t handed out a resumé since.
What have you learned on your life journey?
The most important thing in life is to keep your head up – depression is the mind killer. We are the only obstacle that stands in our way. Whether you’re a person of means or not, the world is your oyster. I don’t believe in excuses. The only shame is squandering this incredibly precious existence. Period.
Where can we find your work?
On the street, at a restaurant, hotel, school, ashram, anywhere you can fathom I’ve most likely painted! Travelling to countries such as India, Indonesia, France, USA, Germany, Singapore, Mexico, Thailand, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands in the name of art. Specifically I have been featured on CNN, the BBC, Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Yoga Journal and many other editorials over the years. I’ve been fortunate to find myself in the right places at the right times. Destiny smiles on those who put their passions first.
How would we know the work was yours if we saw it? What makes your art yours?
Well, I’m a graphic designer as well, so my work always has a pretty tight composition. I prefer portraiture. I love contrast, black and white with huge colour pops. I tend to lean towards pop-art. My background is in brush work so spray always comes after, with a signature that’s not too in-your-face but a part of the piece.
Tell us about the mural you did at The Beatles Ashram in India …
I went to India for the first time in 2012. I heard about the legendary-abandoned ashram where The Beatles found meditation and started the psychedelic rock era. Although there weren’t any paintings on the walls yet, I immediately recognized its potential as a Street Art Mecca. I brought a backpack full of paint and bribed the guard every day for two weeks until I finished what I had set out to do. Fast forward six years, the facility has been reopened by the Indian government, they’ve named me the Ashram Art Coordinator and I’ve been back nearly every year since, adding to the extensive murals spread all across the grounds. [@thebeatlesashram for more info].
Where are you with the whole art versus money dialogue?
The short answer is I couldn’t be happier. I have everything I want/need. I’m providing for my family doing what I love and what more could anyone ask for? The long answer is: I think anytime you create a job there will be an uphill battle at times. Life as an entrepreneur is challenging but I wake up hungry to start the day and excited to cross off my to-do lists. I love working with my clients to create monumental artwork that attracts good vibes and audiences alike. Although I can’t ignore the financial end of the business, I always make sure that what I’m offering exceeds the expense. At the end of the day there is no way to quantify the intrinsic value of ‘good art’, all you can do is shoot for an energetic balance comfortable for both parties.
You’ve been linked with ‘Spiritual Pop Art’ … what does that phrase mean to you?
I created this genre for myself when I lived in isolation from the things I was yearning for. After spending time around the ‘New Age’ movement I’ve felt like disassociating myself from that tagline in favour of a more universal theme. Life is intertwined . . . we are everything, and I want to represent the full spectrum of what I feel. I’ve always looked at painting or street art like stepping up to the mic . . . what do you want to say to the masses? How do you want to impact your environment . . . every time it’s something different.
What’s the biggest mural you’ve ever painted?
One of my largest pieces to date was 40 meters long! I was hired by the Delhi Water Board to create an environmental awareness campaign urging people to conserve resources. It was at one of the busiest intersections in Delhi, the honking and pollution wreaked havoc on my senses for 10 days. I believe in art for a higher purpose, and much of what I do has its roots in social change.
If there was one object on which you would love your work to appear, what would that be?
I’ve painted numerous types of vehicles but I’ve never painted on water, so I’d say a yacht! Although a jet sounds enticing as well.
What’s next for Pan?
Beyond a full work schedule, my soulmate/girlfriend (from Melbourne) and I are expecting a baby in July . . . I can’t think of anything more exciting than that! It is, after all, the ultimate act of creation, and I cannot wait to be a dad. We’ll continue to live our nomadic lifestyle after the baby’s born, there’s still so much to explore when the world is your canvas.