Exploring Culture in the Form of Truck Art: Leyanvi Mirando
Leyanvi Mirando is an Art Director and Publication Designer working at MullenLowe Sri Lanka. His love of typography and his daily commute to college first sparked his interest in Sri Lankan truck decorations and later led to his research on his unique design. As a final year design student at the Academy of Design (AOD), Mirando based her entire design project on exploring the unorthodox and intriguing world of Sri Lankan truck design and culture. underlying. Over the years, he continued to enrich his study.
Speaking to Mirando about how she became interested in the concept of the art of trucks, she explained that when she was a graphic design student, she used to travel back and forth from Negombo to college by bus. This was long before the freeway was invented, so it would get stuck in the road for a few hours, leading her to observe her surrounding environment. It was then that she started to notice these brightly colored trucks.
The subject captivated her so much that she chose to do her dissertation on it. “It’s the 3D letters that drew me to this, but also if you take a second look you’ll see that there is so much art and culture that there are little patterns surrounding us in our temples and our churches which are incorporated into one truck. “
In a typically painted truck, Mirando described that one would see the owner of the truck’s initials and company name, and the letters are structured in three dimensions. Sri Lanka’s largest wholesale vegetable market is located in Dambulla, so roads in the region often see trucks bringing goods to the market (mainly Colombo). These factors make the area ideal for viewing trucks and viewing traditional samples of Sri Lankan truck art.
“It was the 3D letters that drew me to this, but also if you take a second look you will see that there is so much art and culture like little patterns that surround us in our temples and churches which are incorporated in a single truck ” Leyanvi Mirando
History of the art of the truck
Truck art is a popular form of regional decoration in Southeast Asia, with Pakistani, Indian and of course Sri Lankan trucks featuring elaborate floral designs and calligraphy. The art of trucks has been a long-standing aspect of Sri Lankan culture. In the early stages of truck art, Mirando informed us that these artists had to work with black and white, and if they were lucky, a few more standard colors due to the lack of paint at the time. So it was a real challenge for the artists to make their designs stand out and get them interested, but despite the lack of colors, they did a great job and the art appealed to everyone who saw it. Later, after importing more colors into the country, the designs became more creative and colorful.
Currently in the digital age, Mirando has observed that truck owners are starting to opt for stickers over hand-painted works of art, so the tradition unfortunately seems to be fading. The stickers don’t have the feel of the culture, nor the layers that these artists painstakingly hand-paint, but the concept of truck art still stands. “These digitized stickers do not correspond to reality, although the art can be reproduced. It is very sad to see that such an ancient culture seems to be fading away. She observed that due to digitalization, artists in workshops are losing their jobs, so the demise of this art form not only kills tradition, but also affects the livelihoods of many.
Typography expresses culture
Mirando explained that each truck has its own elements, but we cannot identify their original location or what culture they come from, simply from the typography and the colors and elements used, adding: “We cannot identify the location simply from the style and culture. Because most of the time we don’t know where the truck came from and who decorated it. This is only an indication of what the culture might be and where the truck might have been painted.
“You find different illustrations that are aligned with different religions and different ethnicities and communities that are in our country and sometimes you can see a mixture of them together,” she commented, adding that it is possible that one truck carries Jesus Christ, but is also adorned with Hindu elements. She also noted that in general, if a truck is owned by a merchant of Hindu descent, the paintings are likely to be more vibrant and use more colors than if a truck is owned by a merchant of Sinhala descent. , but the owner of the truck has the final say on what happens to his truck. It is clear that the art of trucks is a beautiful celebration of cultures.
She also informed us that if a truck is coming from the coast, the art will have coastal elements. There are so many other workshops scattered all over the country too. Jaffna is a very popular destination for truck paint shops, so there are more colorful and vibrant cultural elements.
As Sri Lankans we grew up seeing these colorful trucks while traveling the roads. It is undeniable that Sri Lanka is a land rich in a heritage and a culture full of colors.