The urge to create art is so overwhelming that Jaswant Singh must stop what he is doing, grab a sketch pen and record the idea. When he’s driving a truck, he can’t just slam on the brakes, so he creates a mental memory by repeating the idea like a mantra.
“I drive a truck to pay the bills,” said the veteran trucker, adding that it has allowed him the freedom to create art. Trucking is a lonely job and Singh has embraced the solitude it offers, allowing time for inner reflection and creativity.
Born in a farming family in Punjab, India, Singh studied fine art at university. After graduating, he taught fine art for a few years before moving to Nairobi, Kenya. While working there in an advertising agency as a graphic designer and illustrator, he visited art galleries and museums in Europe, soaking in the culture.
Singh moved to the U.S. in 1998 following a job offer as a graphic designer and display artist, adding stints at Disney World and Universal Studios to his resume. He said after 9/11 things were not good for Sikhs in the U.S., so he settled in Canada in 2004 with his family.
Life was not easy, and art was not helping pay the bills. He decided to try a “scary new venture” and got his A/Z licence in 2007. He drove as part of a team for a year and then began driving longhaul routes alone.
He admits the first two years of trucking were tough. He worked hard at his new career and started to love driving, but did not want to extinguish the flame of his aesthetic and art.
Listening to audible books on spirituality while he drove, Singh started to enjoy the solitude it offered. He reflected on what he heard, penning his thoughts when he returned home from a trip.
Keen on balancing art and trucking, Singh drives in the warmer months and takes a break once winter sets in. He spends his time painting, writing, and participating in art exhibitions.
Singh said he enjoys a simple lifestyle and does not need a lot of money. “Trucking helps me make enough money to sustain myself and my family for the months I don’t work. By the time I am broke in March or April, I start driving again,” he said with a smile.
Despite driving for many years, Singh has never owned a truck. “I was aware that if I buy a truck, I would become a slave to it.”
Covid-19 proved a boon for his writing journey. Singh and his family were stuck in India when the pandemic struck in 2020. He used the time to write a book. Singh has published three books– Art of Jaswant, My Inner World, and the latest, a personal memoir A Bubble In The Rain.
Returning from India, he helped Indian television channels set up studios in Canada, while also working as a videographer for news outlets.
This year, he switched from longhaul trucking to driving locally. He is not a fan due to the constant demands of connectivity from dispatchers and his loss of solitude.
Presently on a break from driving, he is busy with art projects and launching his latest book. Singh used to paint for himself, but now has started to make art for others, so they can enjoy it. His work can be viewed at artofjaswant.com.
Singh lives in the moment. “Whatever plans I made, 99.9% didn’t work. I go with the flow, whatever comes my way I enjoy it.” As he thinks about retirement, Singh is keen to build bridges between seniors and young people, sharing stories and experiences of artists and writers.