Ram Krishna uses a circle motif common among Nepali signboard artists, but he takes it a step further. He often uses the circle as a moon, or as a device to frame the dog, but he has been known to take it outside the frame, too, giving the pet a field, some grass, or even just to show off the dog’s collar. See the black lab with a glowing porthole above.
Ram Krishna is an example of a member of a family that is in the business of signboard art. His brothers and his cousins all work in the business. Most likely his father and uncles have all retired. There are female fine artists in Nepal, but I’ve never seen a lady signboard artist, though they often work in the shop or run the storefront.
More than once, I’ve gone to Ram’s shop to find 5 or 6 Nepalis watching a hotly contested game of chess. There’s also a lot of art on the wall, a sign that they paint for pleasure as well.
There is little ego involved for most of these guys. If they have a lot of work, or their cousin needs some money, they pass the work along to someone else. The young artists never turn down work, whereas I’ve known some older artists to insist that they are ‘too busy’.
In March, 2011, when I arrived to place an order, Ram Krishna, 25, told me that he was getting married. As is common in Nepal, it was an arranged marriage. He returned from the wedding over a month late! Must have been a great honeymoon. In November, 2012, Ram Krishna told me that he was the proud father of a daughter.