Inside the World of Indian Truck Art

VICE catches up with some Indian truck drivers to understand why they get their trucks painted in a kaleidoscope of colours, art, slogans and symbols, and how it helps them find a little piece of ‘home’, when on the road.

The Indian tricolour. Their kids' names. Names of the spiritual leaders they follow. A village belle carrying a pot of water. Verses like 'Maa ka asshirwad (Mother's blessing)'. The Taj Mahal. And of course, the quintessential Horn OK Please.

Trucks in India carry a kaleidoscope of colours, art, slogans and symbols almost as a celebration of the beast that rolls down the highways, travelling across far-flung geographies. With close to 8.5 million trucks plying on Indian roads, the trucking industry is India’s backbone when it comes to the supply of essential services. Indian trucks are also known for another thing—their fantastical art! For truckers in India, having a riotous display of colours and art they resonate with is almost a rite of passage. The bulky body of the truck then becomes a mode of expression, not only for them but also for many truck artists in the country.

VICE meets Nafees Ahmad Khan, a truck artist from Indore, a city in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. We also meet truck drivers stationed at Nafees’ workshop to understand why they get their trucks custom painted and what the iconography means for them.