Talents come in all sizes and ages. Some bloom at their own will, while some others fire up impromptu. As they say, sometimes all you need is a little nudge, a little push forward. One step in the right direction is all it takes. Those were our thoughts when we sat down to converse with Ramya Sriram. This highly talented artist, who is silently taking the world by storm, one doodle at a time, is someone every creative mind should know about. Ramya’s doodles and stick figures manage to express complex thoughts and commentaries in the simplest joyous manner. An artist for an occasion, Ramya Sriram has a story to tell through every stick figure that jumps out of her drawing pen. With her work being slowly but surely being recognised and applauded, it was just the opportunity for us to get talking with this petite artist about clicks and more importantly what sticks.
So Ramya, what’s the story behind the super cute stick figure comic strips? What were the factors that made you take up this, and make not only just the comic branding but also a comprehensive website over it?
The stick figures comic strip was born just by chance. A friend in Bombay saw some of my stick figures doodles online and asked if I’d draw a comic strip to his magazine. I started without any plan as such, and pretty soon, I realised I was addicted! I opened my inbox one day to find a request for a custom greeting card, and that’s when I started doing commissioned work. Since I also do a fair bit of writing (travel, copy, verse), it made sense to have one space to which I could transfer all the ideas in my chaotic head.
With some idea of where ‘TheTap’ started, we’d like to know your story too. Who is Ramya, beyond her doodles, and her witty cartoons? And how do you perhaps find the inspiration to draw up stories (in your commissioned works) of random people?
Well, I think I’m a fairly happy-go-lucky person though I’d love to pretend I’m hoarding some deep dark secrets as artists are supposed to. I’ve had a wonderful life, full of adventures and excitement. I coached for medicine, studied engineering, dropped out of an MBA, rejected an IT job, worked as an editor of science books, worked in advertising, and now I write and draw full-time. I think inspiration somehow finds its way to me. For the commissioned works, I usually ask for information which forms the backbone of the story. To this, I add my own exaggerations and enhancements. I absolutely love working on custom stories and wedding invites – there’s always that thrill of having created something that personal for someone.
Most illustrators give names to their creations. So, Ramya, do you do that? If yes, what are they called? And a special mention to ‘Amma Says’. The whole series has been brilliant, we’d love to know the special sauce you use there.
I don’t really have characters, at least as of now. The ‘Amma Says’ series is the only one which features a character as such. Each and every comic story in the series has actually happened! And I guess that’s what makes it so relatable – that it draws from reality. I think all of us have felt that familiar feeling of our mums saying something outrageously ridiculous and then, finding out to our utter horror, that they were right!
Now, you’ve been getting fame and recognition all over, recently you won the “Digital Creative Superstar” award in the Humour category from Women’s Web. The reason I’m mentioning these is that with more popularity comes more pressure to do work. How do you manage that? Do you plan a team under ‘TheTap’ someday?
I think you have to distance yourself a little bit from all the outside noise if you know what I mean. It’s absolutely wonderful to know that so many people appreciate my work, but I have to keep reminding myself not to get carried away. As a freelancer especially, you’ve to stay really grounded since there’s a lot of additional activities you have to keep track of. There are pitches to be made, bills to be paid, etc. I’m not sure I can think of having a team just yet, though I’d love to collaborate with writers, artists and product designers.
Totally random question, If I had to ask you to make my love story into a comic strip, what will be the first five things you’d do? What if the story I tell you is super cliche and super boring?
Aha! I don’t think there is any story that is boring really – I’ve heard so many love stories and I honestly never get tired of it. I get to hear so many excited couples, and each time it’s a little different. You’d be surprised to know that I haven’t yet designed a single card that’s similar to anyone else’s!
As for the first five things I’d do, well, I’d:
-Ask for information about the both of you – your likes, dislikes, things you guys fight about, things you guys do together, etc.
-Ask for a few pics of you so I know what you look like
-Get an advance payment, an important part 😉
-Weave a visual story
-Send it to you for edits!
Now then, who do you look to for inspiration? Say, is there a comic strip, a doodle figure, anything which always peps you up and gives you great ideas? Also, name one artist who makes in your regard, makes the best comics and illustrations out there?
Most of my inspiration comes from things around me – everyday experiences, amusing incidents, interesting conversations. My favourite comics artist is Grant Snider of incidentalcomics.com – because of the wonderful thought behind each and every panel in each and every one of his comics. His are the kind of comics I can see adorning my walls. He’s simply elegant. A cut above the rest.
To wrap it up, what would advise anyone looking to make their career out of artwork? Are there any courses you think are required to really pass the edge? Also, in today’s world where creativity is being touted as the biggest asset of mankind, how do you Ramya, constantly inspire yourself?
I’d advise aspiring illustrators and artists to find a niche and keep persevering. When it comes to doing courses, it really depends on what field you’re in. All I can say is that you’ve got to keep your skills up to date! I think you’ve also got to recognise your weaknesses and keep working on them.
Inspiration really just seems to land on my plate. There is so much to rejoice about, there is so much to be amused about, so much to be angry about. Especially of late, where there’s so much happening worldwide, there’s no dearth of stories. Every moment is an ongoing conversation, and you really just have to keep your eyes and ears open, and stories will come your way.