I had the pleasure of working on several interviews these past few weeks and they all reminded me why I love this format so much. Getting into the mind of another person and being able to explore their understanding of the world and thought process on different subjects can be eye-opening and inspirational.
There is a certain person I have regularly been in touch and shared inspiration with and today I want to introduce you to him. Meet Shantnu Dobhal – an Indian artist expressing himself with many mediums and leading an environmental movement fuelled by his passion and sense of responsibility. I will have the honour of presenting his thoughts on several topics including the world of art, the environmental crisis, and the depths of human minds.
Once again I have my amazing network and (indirectly) the seek discomfort movement (Yes Fam community) to thank for the chance of crossing paths with Shantnu. The biggest sources of inspiration and creative energy are other people and this is just another proof.
I was introduced to Shantnu’s art over a year ago and I was captivated by his impactful way of expression. His drawings contain striking realism while his poetry makes his emotions and thoughts take clear form in your mind. His photography is also well-executed and always telling a story.
One of his many incredible works. Visit his Instagram to see more amazing art.
This guy’s creativity knows no borders. He is actually the reason behind some of my blog posts, always ready to assist with ideas or suggest a perfectly shot movie with depth that will make you explore the universe’s mysteries. His artistic nature is impossible to conceal.
I have always loved his creativity and passion but this is not the only reason I wanted to interview him. Shantnu is one of the people who are perfectly aware of the dangers the climate crisis brings to our world.
His passion for planet protection and fighting the mess humanity has brought upon itself is transmitted into a project he started and developed together with like-minded fellows. Humans Of Planet Earth (HOPE) is his initiative in regards to doing his part in the climate catastrophe war and his way of bringing awareness towards those who will shape the future of our world.
Follow Team HOPE on Instagram to see their projects, hard work, and constant development.
I have been meaning to ask Shantnu for an interview for my blog for a long time before my lazy ass finally got to it. But better late than never, right?
I am happy to share this quick inspirational talk and I encourage anyone who reads it to check out my friend’s work. He is an incredibly self-conscious human who has his unique way of presenting art and talking about the world. I think this is very valuable.
More of Shantnu’s art
I think it would be best to start with some type of an introduction – tell us who Shantnu Dobhal is.
To be very honest I am still trying to figure it out, I have struggled with this question for a long time. In general, I guess an introvert with awkward social complexion would do for an answer.
When it comes to art – how long have you been doing it and how did you get attracted to the world of drawing, photography, and writing?
I started writing when I was around 11, I wrote one of those philosophical essays in a school exam and it caught the teacher’s attention who at first thought that I copied it from somewhere. I was very much into writing in my early days as a student.
Drawing and photography came later. Drawing really got my attention while I was studying computer science – I dropped out in the second semester and decided to take the burning road of art forever. I started giving art a more serious thought in 2018. Before that I was just doing it because I could.
Also in this aspect, you are a man of many talents and ideas – how do you maintain all of them going and how do you choose what medium to use when you have an idea for a project?
I am not very expressive through my emotions in the physical world so I have to find a way to let them out through different mediums. My drawing focuses on realism – I try to portray what is in its true form, mostly humans. I am fascinated with people who I don’t know. I believe as long as you don’t know somebody there are no limits – those people can be anything you want them to be and that is what I like to draw and portray. I am trying to capture the human expressions through my drawings.
When it comes to my raw emotions, I collect them in poetry and then forget about them. I am not really comfortable with expressing emotions physically.
As for my projects – I do have a book of ideas for keeping notes. A small notebook filled with ideas about art projects, stories and cinema I want to work on.
How has art influenced you so far and where do you hope it will take you in the future?
Art has influenced my whole belief system. It has brought me closer to something invisible and drifted me away from my family and other people in a way. Not that I was really close to someone, I am just more distant from people now than I ever was. I sometimes wish I had a different set of beliefs because then it would have been easy to get by.
I wouldn’t classify art as something high and divine. Instead of something transcended I believe art to be the outlook of one’s personality traits and insecurities. Maybe that’s why people choose something else as a profession and rarely turn to drawing and painting.
I don’t think I have any idea where it will really take me. I guess if I knew I would’ve been on the way already. I am either lost or it is a very long way.
Why is art essential for our world?
I think art is the starting point of the awakening of the human conscience. Before religion, before philosophy and science, our ancestors were painting the very caves they lived in.
So art existed way before the gods and religion were invented. I believe art and philosophy together helped us evolve into these beings who can now look into the moons of Saturn, travel to space, send our probes beyond our solar system, and look into other worlds for life. I believe without art everything is incomplete.
Have you faced times where you wanted to give up and it was hard to keep going? How did you overcome it (if it happened) and what do you do when inspiration and motivation are not on your side?
There were times when I thought maybe I should have focused on mathematics instead of art, it’s just about the whole reputation that art has in India. If you are an artist you are either making a lot of money through your drawings and paintings or if this is not happening then you are not really an artist.
As a grown-up individual, you focus on having the financial freedom that can take you to places and secure you. Art doesn’t really provide that on a regular basis and that worries the people around me and henceforth they bring that insecurity upon me.
For me, what makes drawing very difficult sometimes are the manic lows and migraines. I have a tough time dealing with my brain; as much as I understand how it functions I can’t really get it under control.
Honestly speaking I don’t really need motivation to draw because I cannot do anything else. I mean after college everyone goes with a sort of plan A and plan B, but I don’t have a plan B.
What are your main sources of inspiration?
Vincent Van Gogh, there is no other artist that has inspired me more. The sheer passion he had for art was truly remarkable and people never really understood his love.
Unfortunately, people don’t really understand deep emotional connections until it’s too late. But the way Van Gogh looked at the world was just something else. He was too beautiful for this world. And to me nothing is more inspiring than the true emotions of passionate people.
You are also a person who is perfectly aware of the damage the climate crisis is doing to our world. You started the project HOPE – Humans Of Planet Earth last year. Tell us about it – why did you create it, what is the goal, how is it developing, and what message do you want to send with it? Where do you hope it will lead you and the team?
“It’s a sad, sad situation” when it comes to environmental awareness. We have collectively exploited natural resources and put the earth on a brink of collapsing. Humanity in all its arrogance thinks it has the power over the planet but it’s the other way around.
With all the dangers the environment faced last year we (Team HOPE) decided to give back as much as we can so we started planting trees. During one of our visits to a local forest we saw how humans have destroyed the ecosystems – there was too much plastic waste. We decided that every Sunday we will come back and clean the forest, not realizing the scale humans have already demolished it.
We started organizing events and people gradually kept joining. After assessing the situation we realized cleaning up the forest is not enough and we need to somehow bring that awareness to the people. That is when Team HOPE was officially formed.
Our goal is to educate people about the dangers that the planet is facing because of our irresponsible actions and one of our primary objectives is to spark the fire of environmental conservation in young minds.
To do that we have started awareness projects in underprivileged schools and surprisingly the response has been great. Children really connect to the planet on a conscious level. And that’s the thing – if a child can understand it the adults will be put to shame.
We are now a strong team of dedicated individuals from different educational backgrounds with one mutual goal and I don’t think I could have asked for better teammates. The thing is we love people who love this beautiful planet and are willing to fight for it. We hope that more and more passionate people will join our movement – what we need is not three people practising sustainability and conservation perfectly but twenty people practising conservation and sustainability imperfectly. The more we are the better our efforts will be.
You can follow our work on our Instagram and become a teammate if you are interested in what we are doing and want to support the fight against the climate catastrophe in some way.
A little bit about seeking discomfort – a movement with growing popularity. How did you get introduced to it and how has it impacted you? Why should people seek discomfort, what challenges and benefits does it hold?
It was totally random when it came to seeking discomfort. I remember YouTube showed me one of the videos from the 30-day-challenge that Yes Theory did and I was just hooked to them.
When I started watching them I was an extreme introvert rarely talking to anyone. I guess I kept growing with Yes Theory and the motto of seeking discomfort inspired me to be more open to the world. It also eventually led me to Team HOPE.
Saying this from personal experience – seeking discomfort is really an amazing way to grow and become self-aware.
Let’s do a quick artists support artists section – which artist should we follow?
An artist I really admire is Emma Tran. She is just amazing. Her paintings and prints are really out of this world.
Aurora Fey – she is a digital artist I really admire and her work is also stunning. For musicians I’d go with my brother Ngawang Tsedup – he does cover songs at the moment but I believe he has potential and can become an amazing musician.
Also, Karan Sharma is a young music producer worth the attention. He is just 15 years old and is really good at making electronic music even though he never really learned it, I believe, with proper training. I truly believe he can change the EDM scene of India.
Tell us your favourite quote.
Life may be sad, but it’s always beautiful
– Pierrot le Fou
One book we should all read, one movie we should see, one music album we should hear?
The book would be Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan.
One movie is really difficult to choose but I would go with Jojo Rabbit at this particular moment.
Favourite Studio Ghibli movie? I cannot allow myself to skip that one.
The only thing I am sure about in this life is my favourite Studio Ghibli movie and it is Grave of the Fireflies.
Good choice! Anything you would want to add before we end the interview?
I would really like to thank every individual that is working amidst this global crisis to help other people and make our lives much easier and safer. When this crisis ends let’s not go back to our old ways, let’s evolve and grow to become more compassionate beings.
I want to sincerely thank Shantnu for taking the time to share his thoughts with me and everyone who reads this post. I admire his hard work, dedication, and undivided following of his chosen path and I really see him as an inspiration and a great artist.
Keep an eye on him as he is up to something great at this very moment, I am sure.
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