"When you do something from the heart, good things happen."
This is the continuation of a 2-part interview with the renowned Indian Motoartist, Ganesh Shinde a.k.a. Miles on Canvas. If you missed the 1st part, you can read it by clicking here.
Here's the video of the interview conducted with Ganesh.
If you prefer reading, here it is -
Welcome back, moto enthusiasts!
Previously, we delved in the life of Ganesh, a.k.a. Miles On Canvas, a Punekar who started off pursuing a career in accounting but later turned towards his passion for motoart.
Today, let’s take a closer look at his travels, projects, and how his passion for art grew into what it is now.
Mallika: Ganesh, you were part of the Helmets for India project in collaboration with Moto Art Show. Can you tell us about your experience as an artist and as a messenger spreading the message of safe riding?
For those who don’t know, this project promoted 2 wheeler road safety in India by bringing focus to the importance of wearing helmets properly while riding. Moto Art Show organized a custom helmet art exhibition in Bombay with over 20 helmets customized by artists from all over the world including Ganesh. Niels Peter Jensen, the founder of Helmets for India put together a celebrity riding team that rode from Bombay to Goa to create awareness and give away helmets to those in need. Ganesh was part of the riding crew and he painted two beautiful helmets, one that was part of the exhibition and one that he painted while riding from Bombay to Goa.
Ganesh: First thing I’d like to say is that Moto Art Show gave me my first opportunity to show my paintings in the Bangalore exhibition after I took it up seriously. Because of this show, I felt like I had found a path to follow for my art. And I found appreciation and acknowledgment that I was doing something right. That first exhibition in 2018 with you was a starting point for me and I found motivation to paint more.
And then you gave me the opportunity to show my paintings again at the Helmets for India project. It was a really great experience and I decided to paint a helmet while keeping the goal of the project in mind. I was going on a ride to Himachal Pradesh that time and I thought that it would be better to paint my helmet during the journey instead of making another landscape painting on canvas. The idea also went well with the concept of the project to show that helmets could be a cool accessory to show off and wear proudly. I decided to capture the memories of my trip on the helmet and chronicle my Himachal journey.
The helmet Ganesh painted for Helmets for India during his trip to Himachal.
The riding experience with Niels’ and the team was an eye opener. It was the best experience for me. I don’t think that I am some big time biker. I know how to ride and carry my art supplies for painting. But I am not a technical rider. So during the journey, I lost control at a sharp turn and fell and slid to the side of the road. I fell really hard. And only because I was wearing a helmet securely, I am in from of you today. Only I know how hard my head banged on impact. It was like a test of how well the helmet works.
During the journey I painted another helmet. The riding schedule was so packed that it was hard to find time to paint the second helmet. There were only 3-4 more days left until we reached Goa and I was worried about the helmet. Then I decided no matter what I had to paint the helmet. From morning till evening, we were riding and we reached at 7pm. I didn’t even check-in, I went straight to the beach with my supplies and told Niels I will catch up with them later. When I like to do something, then I don’t compromise on anything. But overall it was a great experience. Whenever we stopped to give away the helmets, we got a really good response from the community.
In progress shots of the second helmet Ganesh painted during the ride from Bombay to Goa.
Bottom right: Ganesh with the Helmets for India team
Mallika: Your Himachal helmet was a super hit at the exhibition along with your bike paintings. Everyone loved them. What other rides have you done that included painting?
Ganesh: After the Himachal ride, I went to Hampi again and after that I haven’t been able to go at all. I bought a new Himalayan and retired the Classic 350. But before retiring the 350, I took it back to Hampi for a farewell ride. I planned a 5 day ride, 1 day to go, 3 days for painting the bike and 1 day to come back. I would paint from 7 in the morning till evening. It turned out to be a physically very exhausting trip but it was one of the best for me.
There is a temple in Hampi known as Vittal temple and painting on site is not allowed as it’s a UNESCO Heritage site. You have to get permission first. I tried to get the permission and explained how I wanted to paint on the bike for which I would have to take the bike inside the temple premises. The official looked at my bike and kind of liked the concept. But he was concerned that others would also start asking for such permissions if I was granted it. I agreed that it could cause trouble if I’m sitting there and painting in the middle of all the crowd. I suggested that I would come early morning before the temple opened to the public and pack up by opening time. So 6am - 9am. I assured the official I would pack up at 9am and he said ok. No need for a permission letter in that case. You go there in the morning and have the security guard call me.
So that’s what I did. I got there at 6am, the official told the security guard to let me bring in the bike and paint there. I finished the painting at exactly 9am. The official really liked the painted bike and promised to promote it all over Hampi. A journalist covered my story and the bike and spread it on all channels. I became viral there in Hampi. It was really unexpected. When you do something from the heart, good things happen.
top row: Tank painting at the Vittal temple (left) and at the Talarigatta gateway in Hampi
bottom row: bike parts painted at the other locations in Hampi.
I really like all this activity that is happening through painting. It is leading to a lot of interaction with different people and helping me build solid relationships. There are no financial gains from these experiences, but what matters to me the most are these relationships. Money will come and go. And I don’t need much other than two meals a day and being able to paint. I don’t really care for savings and I am happy like that. Whatever problems come up, I am able to face them and solve them.
Mallika: What would you like to tell other artists? Ones who are up and coming or to the ones who want to paint but for one reason or another are not able to.
Ganesh: Art needs a lot of patience. I don’t know if I will be successful in the future or not. The value of art does not depend on the painting itself but on the person behind it. How many years he’s put into it. That’s what matters. A lot of artists find success when they are between 40-50 years old. It’s a long process and you have to be very honest with it. To be honest, dedication is very important.
Financially you need support to be able to do this. I have a job so I am able to paint otherwise it would have been difficult. Multi-day bike rides can be expensive. So whatever I earn, I invest into my art. I don’t save much because I want to live my life now. When I’m old, then all the savings don’t hav