There is no denying that India is a colourful country. The dress, Holi celebrations and painted temples all display colourful characteristics that wouldn’t be out of place in an art gallery in Europe. This exuberant love of colour, coupled with the practice of traditional crafts and signwriting mean that surfaces that would typically be unpainted, including animals, are often covered in intricate artwork.
The trucks of India are no exception and display a truly unique decorative style that varies slightly from state to state.
Despite slight variations in style, a few mottos are always omnipresent. The rear of the vehicles are typically covered with instructional slogans like “HORN OK PLEASE”, “USE DIPPER AT NIGHT” or “WAIT FOR SIGNAL” characteristically painted in typefaces that wouldn’t be out of place in a traditional fairground in the UK. Brake lights are often labelled with the words “STOP SIGNAL” painted above them – ironically brake lights never work!
Intricate decorative patterns and animal & floral motifs cover virtually every square inch of the vehicles which have often been custom built onto a pre-existing chassis. The cabs of the trucks are usually constructed from wood and adorned with elaborate metal-work. Again, commonly decorated with the company name and featuring required information like “All India Permit” or “Goods Carrier”.
The buses and coaches of south India have embraced newer spraypaint and airbrush techniques resulting in some exceptionally distinctive and often bizarrely irrational paint jobs! Why wouldn’t you want a portrait of a white toddler dressed as a pirate over a garish psychedelic background painted on the rear of your tourist coach in India? Other designs feature unrelated pop-cultural references like Angry Birds and Mickey Mouse. No matter what design is chosen, it is certain that the paintjob will be colourful!
Possibly our favourite ‘spot’ was an open-sided hearse airbrushed (badly) with a white galloping horse!
In a world that is constantly looking to technology to improve production speeds it is nice to know that traditional brush-painted signwriting is still thriving in India. Hopefully this craft will continue as this out-dated medium oozes more character, style and finesse than it’s modern day replacement!