Art and Creativity as a Medium for Awareness
Perhaps the greatest challenge and triumph of art, is its ability to depict life's truths, no matter how sweet or bitter, in a way that always comes across as beautiful. Because it is art, people pay attention and are endlessly entertained. But like water to a rock, the message seeps deep inside and transforms the viewer, consciously or unconsciously.
Such is the art of Harsh Gopal, an illustrator from Bangalore, India. He is a UX Designer by day and one popular potato on Instagram by night. On this social media platform, amid countless accounts of cats, vegans, travelers, and fitness bloggers, you will find the Truth Potato - a cute comic character that deals with life in an honest, straightforward, and mindful way.
With subtlety, humor, and wisdom, every strip Harsh creates invites a meditation on being human, going with the flow, cultivating awareness while facing the realities of life, and having an open heart and mind in accepting universal truths regardless of how one feels about them.
"Truth Potato was a character created to put those 'bitter truths' out there in the open, which everybody is normally in denial with. That was all the simple agenda for the character,” he explains. Harsh has been creating comics for Truth Potato since last year, after the character randomly occurred to him while he was sitting at home one evening after work and eating fries.
“All the ‘bitter truths’ by Truth Potato are not something that I would claim copyright to,” he says. “They are basically negation of the normal day to day sayings, which we all are familiar with. I sit and list down most of these and post them one by one eventually. I love to draw random things and it is always acceptable when there’s a cute potato, online, trying to give you life advices.”
And this indeed is the magic of Truth Potato. It is adorable, simple, and fun – but definitely real. This allows the lucid truths to shine. It is as Picasso said, "Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun."
But more than creativity, Harsh further adds that humor makes it easier to share an impactful message. "When there is a bit of fun involved, it’s always easier to create interest in whatever you are trying to say. Besides, nobody likes to be serious all the time, right?"
This elemental lightness and playfulness may just be the reason why Truth Potato sees its fair share of followers on social media. The bio on the account reads “I potate from my inner wisdom, the truth of life.” For many, concepts surrounding universal truth, how to live a good life, awareness, mindfulness, and spirituality are met with simmering hesitation for these discussions can be airy-fairy or too esoteric, sometimes even dogmatic, and at worst, culty. But Harsh’ humor makes everything easier to digest, makes everything more approachable. It is very casual and grounded without losing its inherent vigor and impact.
But while his work can come across as mindful, Harsh says he is not the best person to be an example of building awareness but that working on Truth Potato has helped him grow as a person, too. He says, “I’m not a spiritual person but aware to an extent. It’s important that one be aware of oneself wherever or whatever he or she is doing. And I haven’t been mindful at all. I have done my share of stupidities. As I said earlier, it is important that a person is aware of surroundings and activities. This would help him or her a lot in their life. I guess making Truth Potato spurt out all those bitter truths has helped me in understanding things in a different perspective as well.”
Plenty of perspective is definitely generated by Truth Potato. It is especially helpful to see mindful content these days where everyone is pulled in every direction while trying to keep up with the demands of modern life. Harsh shares the truths in his comics may serve as reminders for people to see reality for what it is. He explains, “We all are running a rat race called life, trying to please strangers. But while we are this deep in the race, we forget that we are all we have truly and we have already forsaken ourselves. Giving attention to oneself, would be a great start.”
One obvious hindrance to self-care is addiction to social media. Harsh says it is a great medium to share your creation and ideas but too much use is also harmful. “We tend to get addicted to everything that slightly earns the brownie points of our interest. And social media is a part of everyone’s life at this point of time. No matter what we say, we will not be able to get that out of our lives unless we decide to move in to a jungle with no connectivity. I guess even then we will invent a jungle social network. We are social creatures after all.”
Harsh goes back to his younger days where he started drawing normal pencil sketches of random landscapes and his favorite anime characters. When he entered high school, he started a comic series that he drew on his notebook and his classmates would pass the notebook and take turns to read it. What he had was a physical output that he shared socially. Obviously, these days, the fruits of his creativity are easily seen by thousands through Instagram, his favourite social media channel.
The key then is balance: to figure out a way to use social media positively and productively, in a way that Truth Potato has done, and not let it use you and transform you into a mindless, completely checked-out, scrolling creature. It all comes down to mindfulness. If people are more conscious, a lot would improve. Harsh further adds, “Everything will change if we are more aware. We wouldn’t be this selfish creature and that would make all the difference.”
But with his art and inner wisdom, Harsh is already on the fast-track to making a difference, shedding more light into the human heart with every comic he shares. On the surface, it may seem fun and all too simplistic, but at a deeper level, Truth Potato is able to communicate a strong message of awareness, interconnection, resilience, and positivity. It is for a fact there exists many potatoes in the world, but this right here is definitely one-of-a-kind.
The Truth Potato potates on Instagram @truth.potato. For more on grounded mindfulness and learning how to use social media positively, explore this magical holistic retreat with digital detox in Bali by Pangea.