Min Yan Naing - "This wouldn’t be possible if Burma hadn’t become less strict about tourists coming here"
At the guesthouse we stayed in Ngapali Beach, there was a very nice Art Gallery. The artist was Min Yan Naing who told us a bit about his story.
1. What is your name, where do you come from and what do you do for living?
My name is Min Yan Naing and I’m from Thandwe. My brother and I are both artists. I do oil painting and I started painting 12 years ago, around 2004. It was my brother that got me into painting, he started teaching me when I was young and we started our gallery seven years ago. I sell my paintings to some people in Myanmar but mainly to tourists. I sell on average 4 or 5 paintings a month but sometimes I get lucky and some hotel owner comes to the Gallery and buys many paintings for the hotel. A painting costs around 700$, or 350$ for a small one.
2. What advice would you give to someone like us that just arrived here?
Myanmar has really nice colours, it’s a very beautiful country so for me, as a photographer, I would tell everyone to take as many pictures as possible because even if you’re not a professional you will be able to capture its beauty.
3. What would you say is your favourite food?
I like seafood. In the Shan state I always have a problem with the food, the food smells different. Seafood here is the best, especially if my sister cooks it.
4. What's your favourite place here?
Shan State near Nyaung Shwe (main city of Inle Lake) because it’s a very quiet place. It has a very good colour, it’s good for inspiration. Usually I go there once a year for two weeks, I take a lot of pictures and then, when I’m back home, I paint the things I saw.
5. What would be the perfect Sunday afternoon plan?
I work everyday. Everyday I paint. I never have a day off. It usually takes me about two weeks to finish a painting except the abstract ones, those are faster. This morning I finished one painting that I started yesterday. But if I have some free time I like to go to do beach, have some beers and take pictures of the sunset.
6. What do you usually do for fun?
For me it’s always most fun when I have a canvas in front of me. Painting during night time is the best, everything is very quiet and perfect for me to think and do my work. During the day it’s too noisy on the streets. I feel great when I have ideas coming and I get inspiration to work. I paint some realistic pieces, but what I love the most is abstract painting, it’s very free, I can do anything.
7. What is happiness for you?
Painting is what makes me truly happy and the fact that I can make a living doing the thing I love the most. Knowing that foreigners take my paintings home to their countries and talk about me to their friends and family also makes me very proud and happy. This wouldn’t be possible if Burma hadn’t become less strict about tourists coming here, I really hope the good vibes continue and that more people come to Burma.
8. What would you like to ask our next host?
How do you find inspiration?
Tips & Recommendations
Relax on the beach and catch up on your reading. Ngapali has a beautiful beach with a lot of cabanas and restaurants with beds for people to lay down
If you are travelling on a budget don't book a hotel online, the prices are cheaper when you get there. A good place to stay is Htein Lin Thar (21€ a night for a double bedroom with a/c)