News and Views on Tibet

Interview: Sharing Tibet’s story through Art

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Dharamsala, July 15 – A singer by profession who was once described by His Holiness the Dalai lama as ‘…a strong body with a powerful voice’, Loten Namling has created awareness about Tibet and its culture with his soulful rendition of traditional Tibetan songs. He is also a well-known cartoonist. His cartoons have appeared in a number of European and Tibetan magazines.

Loten Namling calls himself an artiste activist living for Tibet. He has plans to organise traditional music concerts in the Tibetan settlements and also hold an exhibition in October in Dharamsala. Loten tells about his life as a cartoonist and singer to TibetNet.

TibetNet: How has your career as a performer gone so far?

A I sing only traditional and folksongs. In the last three years, I have performed in about 200 shows in 12 different countries. Not all the concerts were directly related to the Tibetan issue. There have been quite a lot of concerts organized in honour of world music heritage.

TibetNet: When did you start drawing cartoons? Who were your inspirations?

A When I grew up in India, I was always attracted towards the cartoons and caricatures found in the Indian newspapers. I think, my interest in this aspect of human expression began from that time. I was specially influenced by the likes of R.K Laxman and Sudhir Dar.

I started drawing cartoons when I was studying in college. Later, when I moved to Switzerland, I had my first stint as a cartoonist in the Younis Tibet (Young Tibet) journal. Since then, I have contributed extensively to various magazines including the well-known Tibet Achtung (Present Tibet) published by the Swiss-Tibetan Association. More recently, a French newspaper has included my work.

What I think important is the effectiveness of this medium. Cartoons can work wonders in terms of conveying messages in a humorous tone.

TibetNet: How would you describe your style of making caricatures?

A It is very difficult to say. I think it is my own style. One needs to have originality in the field of art. Creative expression is mostly inherent and partly shaped by the environment you live in. As you translate your inner thoughts into pictures, it is mostly shaped by what you have within yourself. If you copy a style from someone else, then it is not bound to last long. Moreover, the element of consistency will also not reflect in your works.

People have responded to my artwork with familiarity. By which I mean, after making a number of caricatures, people have now begun identifying my work . For me this is the best compliment an artist can receive.

TibetNet: Which one is your favourite cartoon?

A I don’t have one in particular. However, I have seen that many people liked the one with His Holiness the Dalai Lama pulling the Tibetans uphill towards the goal of free Tibet.

TibetNet: What made you draw that cartoon?

A The idea struck me during a meeting organized by the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress in Switzerland.

The cartoon depicts the tireless work done by His Holiness the Dalai Lama for the well- being of the Tibetan People. I think, if all the Tibetans work as much like him, then achieving our goals and aspirations would not be too difficult.

TibetNet: What about your interaction with other Tibetan cartoonist? Any plans to form an association?

A It is really a very small community. Earlier, Gyatso-la used to draw for the Tibetan Review. I met him once in New York and asked him about it.

I know Tenzin Dhonyoe, a promising young cartoonist. We keep in touch through email. I have had the opportunity to acknowledge his works on several occasions.

Frankly speaking, we really don’t have a lot of cartoonists in exile. Considering our situation, it is also very difficult to create an association. However I feel, it would be good if we can have one.

I think more Tibetans should explore in these fields of expression. We need to adopt different channels and methods to create awareness about Tibet and keep our struggle going.

To see more of Loten Namling’s cartoons, please visit

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