"For my paintings, I like the northern Thai style because I was born here - it's always in my way of thinking and in my heart."
"My name is Parinya Nanjai. I'm a northern Thai guy, born October 19, 1971. My parents are both teachers, and in my family I am the only one who loves to paint. I have one older sister, who works for an airline and she sells my paintings to her friends in other countries - this is how I earn my living. I live with my wife, who works in a restaurant. We have one son and I know very well that we need more income for the future.
"To explain myself, I can only say that I was born to be a Lanna (northern Thai) artist. When I was in primary school I was interested in science, but I realized that wasn't what I wanted so I went on to a technical art school. I studied only painting, but the school encouraged us to study something more specific for a career in the industrial age. My teacher suggested I study textile design and, because Thai children respect adults, I did. But it wasn't for me and, after only a year, I couldn't take any more. I transferred to a university where I studied communications. It wasn't what I loved, but I needed a degree in something because I'd changed my mind too many times. Finally, after six years, I graduated.
"We can essentially learn about art on our own, through everything that surrounds us – nature, culture, everything. Anyway, a few years of art in the technical school taught me to love painting and I know this work is best for me.
"For my paintings, I like the northern Thai style because I was born here - it's always in my way of thinking and in my heart. I have tried other styles but they didn't look right. After a while, I stopped using other styles. When I work, I have no model; I rely on my imagination. I paint from my own thoughts, and the Lanna style is always on my mind. I am Thai, so depicting Thai culture and religion is my nature. I also collect Buddhist lockets as a hobby.
"I have a lot of friends who work in the same field. They always enter their work in competitions, but that isn't necessary for me. I think that we judge art work for its beauty, not for the person who did it. So awards aren't important to me."