Prithvi Chauhan is a Business Marketing major at Portland State University. Known affectionately by his friends and family as Sunny, he enjoys biking around the city, creating innovative solutions to plastic pollution, and painting psychedelic inspired art. Sunny plans to move back to California after he graduates in the Spring, where he will continue to expand his business, bring his art to life on the streets of L.A., and spread his message of love and positivity.
Q: How would you describe your identity?
A: I identify with being an artist if you think about it in psychographic characteristics. Other than that, I guess I’m a 21 year old Indian male thriving here at Portland State University.
Q: What inspires you to create?
A: Knowing that I identify as an artist. It’s a motivator in itself because it helps me reinforce my own identity. I like to create. I like to make things. I enjoy experimenting with different mediums. I think I have a good handle on different techniques so I might as well use that as a vessel to voice my messages, opinions, thoughts, and ideas.
It’s all really just my interpretation of those messages and ideas, but you know, interpretation is what I think art is. That’s why I like to keep my things abstract and open to that interpretation for further analysis and further idea building. I’m inspired by the discussion that follows that.
Q: What does your process look like when you are taking the seed of an idea and turning it into a finished product?
A: I don’t like to force it. That’s why I don’t really like art classes and I’ve honestly never taken one. I don’t like assignments where it feels like it’s being pulled out of me. I understand why in some cases that’s good, but at the same time I just want it to come naturally. I have so many other projects to work on, so I unfortunately do not always get to work on art as much as I want to. It’s mostly just ideas that are recurring and naturally come up in my head.
It’s almost as if the ideas are questioning me.
That’s more of what the process is to me. First, I figure out what the question is by understanding what is arising and relevant in my life at that time. Most of the time I think it could even influence a decision in my life, but it’s mostly an idea or a question that I have and I start to explore that question by starting to paint. As I’m painting, I’m constantly thinking because I go into what you might call “flow states.” My mind just wanders around that thought. It’s just a constant process of me diving into that question and idea, and then developing it and it usually builds from there into new interpretations, or even me finding the answer to the question along the way. And then I throw that into the painting as well. It’s constantly building and growing. It’s not like a set vision and then I get to it. I never know exactly what the finished product is going to look like. I have the rough idea, but all of the details are filled in later during my process of diving into that question.
Q: What do you find challenging about being an artist?
A: I just wish I could paint more. It’s naturally what I like to do. I’ve been getting back into it more now that I am in quarantine. I have more time to dedicate to sketching at night. I’d like to do it all the time. I believe it would even develop my mind a little more to understand and solidify concepts in my head. In that sense, the challenge would be that there is so much that I want to do but I am not always able to.
One way to explain it… well, it’s a really obscure analogy. It’s like there is a membrane. Imagine someone is holding up a cloth and then they put a bunch of sand over it. All of that sand represents my ideas. When I draw, it’s like I’m poking a hole in that membrane (the cloth) and then those ideas (the sand) flow out of the membrane to the bottom where I catch them. The challenge there is that once I poke that whole, I really like it! I want to be able to express so much more, but I’m limited in my abilities to express everything at once. It’s hard when I have such a small funnel to get my ideas out of.
Q: How do you think your art communicates with you? How do you think it communicates with an audience? Is this communication important to the process of your art?
A: I’ll answer this in three parts. There’s three visions in every painting. The first vision is of me when I am initially coming up with an idea, and that is when I find the question, or I guess when the question finds me. That’s the first time I see that picture in my head, and the first time my art begins to communicate with me.
The second vision happens when I am drawing, and all of the pieces start coming together. I see the potential for an audience to see this part of the vision and begin to ask themselves the question that came to me in the first vision. This where my art communicates with that audience. I like to just leave this finished product open to interpretation. I want other people to explore it in their own perspectives and to be able to have those conversations with the art themselves.
The third vision happens when a considerable amount of time has passed and I am looking at the painting again, and I get a new epiphany from that same painting. I start relating that concept of what I visually created to a new relevant idea, and essentially begin a new conversation. So now we have this relationship of what the audience sees and what I see; two different communications of the same painting. And now I see the painting in a whole new way and receive a completely different message from it.
You know, I’ve thought a lot about this before so that’s why I got really excited to answer this question. I was wondering if anyone was ever going to ask me this question!
Q: What is your next project?
A: Oh! I’ve been thinking about doing some graffiti. I’ve already done one and it hasn’t been scrubbed yet, which I think is a good sign that people like it or they don’t mind it. It’s nothing profane. My rule of thumb whenever I do anything like that is that I’m going to leave that place looking nicer than what it was when I found it. So I try to make it pretty –a nice little painting or something cute that people would want to look at. It’s also a really powerful tool for sending a bigger message. I’m a marketing major so I’m all about “views” in that sense. It’s all about harnessing social attention to be able to better convey a message at a broader scale. So I feel like graffiti is a really good way of reaching a wider audience while making a statement. People might say, “this isn’t supposed to be here, but maybe we should be thinking about it.”
So I’d like to do something with Bernie and then twenty-infiniti. I was really sad about Bernie suspending his campaign. I was thinking of doing some koi fishes next to the freeway so people would have something nice to look at while they’re stuck in traffic. I mean, they are just sitting in traffic. Give them something to think about!
Q: As an artist, how would you define this phase of your life?
A:I haven’t been painting in a long time, so I feel like now I unfortunately haven’t been into it in awhile. I am definitely trying to get back there though. I don’t paint for a class or anything so I feel like I have a lot of freedom to do what I want to do and go back to my original method of taking out ideas from questions.
It’s hard with my schedule right now. I want to figure out a way to express my art in ways that aren’t just paintings. I want to do it through my business ventures and even common interactions. I’m trying to live with a vibe, kind of dance my way through life in a way, and apply art in a more philosophical sense as I get back into it.
Q: What makes you happy?
A: A lot of things! So many things! I’m so happy right now. It’s a beautiful day, hanging out with my friend Moxxy, and talking about questions I’ve had all my life. There’s my family and friends and people I keep around me who are supportive of me. That really means the world to me when I’m supported. Because of that I feel like I am privileged enough to be able to see so many things in a very happy light. I always try to see the happy side of things. I like pizza. I like weed. I like art. I’m just a happy person. What is there not to be happy about? There’s no reason to be sad for too long 🙂