When stigma and art collide

There we were, me and my boys, eating our food in the langar (free kitchen) in the gurdwara. A guy was blutacking some drawings to the wall. He came over to ask if we’d come and have a look at his artwork. He went round asking others too.

Above the pictures he put his name – Raj Singh Tattal, the Pen-Tacular-Artist. So I did what came natural and immediately Googled the guy, and came across this BBC Ouch article about him.

Raj is a 38 yr old man who was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome only two years ago. For all his time before he suffered an array of personal problems, forged a life for himself, and eventually succumbed to depression.

He realised that his obsessive behaviour was driven because he doesn’t like change. He would stay in his room for days on end with no desire to come out, not because there was something wrong with him, but because that was where he was happy.

He also reignited his interest and passion for art. It is far too much of a cliché to write about autistic spectrum behaviour and artisitic ability. In Raj’s case this was very much true. His artwork is nothing short of amazing as you’ll see below. All his work is done with charcoal and pencils.

He chose to show us his work on Sikhs and Sikh history, but on his website are a lot more variety showcasing his talent. There are pictures of Benedict Cumberbatch, fan art images of the likes of Spider-Man and drawings of people in despair – in his own words, not because he’s morbid but because he can relate to that.

I don’t know Raj, I only met him yesterday and he didn’t ask me to sponsor or promote his work.

Stories like this leave me in awe. I have no idea what Raj’s life will be like from here on out. He’s found a way to be at peace with his syndrome and how it affects his life. More than that, he’s found a way to find beauty in this personal adversity he faces. That’s more than most of us will achieve in our life.


Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji


Maharaja Duleep Singh


Punjabi bhangra dancers


Sikh soldiers


Mai Bhago


A Sikh warrior

Published by

Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

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