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Ramya Sriram : Cartoonist

Posted on : 27/09/2018 12:38pm
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You have done engineering; you worked as an editor and copy writer. You work for yourself now, how did this transition happen? What has connected the dots? 


From wanting to be a designer, to coaching for medicine, then studying engineering, dropping out of B-school, working in academic publishing then advertising, and now freelancing full-time as a writer and cartoonist – the journey’s been quite crazy. You can see the dots were connected in a rather haphazard way.


I think I had experiment quite a bit to see what fit. I wrote a lot during engineering, which led me to consider advertising and publishing as potential careers. Strangely, I never did think about being on my own back then. I looked at friends getting into B-schools and decided it seemed like a good route to take (I was wrong!). When the publishing house called me, I was ecstatic – celebrated at the B-school, farewell party and all, and scooted. While I edited books by day, I drew comics at night. It started out just as a lark, but when I received requests for doing personalized comics, I felt I was on to something.


The transition was quite rocky, really, but I think having the liberty to choose was really great. Every experience only added to all the stories in my head.



Were you passionate about art and writing since childhood?


Yes, I used to draw and paint a lot. I had the loveliest childhood – I was exposed to a lot of art and craft, dance, music, etc. There was never a boring or dull moment. My mother is an artist, and she encouraged me to enroll for all kinds of classes – from wood carving to making stuffed toys, from calligraphy to water colors. I also read a lot, which perhaps prompted me to write later on.


Drawing was perhaps my favorite hobby during my childhood – a box of color pencils was pretty much all I needed.


I started writing more passionately during my college years – all that pent-up angst you know! I had a blog (the current one is over a decade old) and it really helped me structure my otherwise chaotic mind into meaningful words and sentences.


When I look back, I find that drawing and writing were activities that were very much part of my daily life. They just grew into part of me.



Please tell us about The Tap. When did you start? Whom have you worked with?


The Tap‘ came into existence, because, I needed a name for the comic strip. I didn’t expect it to grow into something much bigger. I started about three years ago – and Comic Con Bangalore 2012 was the turning point, where I received an overwhelming response.



I’ve worked with a variety of clients on both illustration and writing projects – corporations, NGOs, startups and individuals. I’m currently working on converting a business case study into a comic, developing cartoons for the UI of a mobile App and writing website content.


I hate using the word ‘client’ – it just sounds so business-like and impersonal. I’d like to believe that my work has more of a personal touch – whether I’m working with a corporate or individual. I had made a wedding card for someone a few years ago, and now they’re back with a request for a baby shower invite! Things like that make me really happy.


I like having a mix of writing and illustration projects. Copywriting projects come with their own challenges – there you’re dealing with brand stories. I do a fair bit of travel writing as well. 



How important is creative independence for you?


With my own stories, I let loose – the idea hatches, takes shape and is translated externally quite comfortably, without having to fit into a certain mould. When it comes to working on orders, I’ve been lucky to have people come to me and say, ‘Do whatever you think will fit – we don’t want to disturb your creative process!’, which can be frustratingly vague but also very encouraging – especially when they like the output!


I think having to come up with something in a limited period of time, which has to match the client’s expectations, is super-challenging – and I love it! So as of now, I’m just really enjoying myself.


I love being pushed to think of new ideas, and every time I think up something, it serves as an affirmation that The Tap’s flowing steadily.



What are your plans for future?


So many of them! One is to take up campaigns for corporates – leverage the power of simple visual/verbal stories for brands. There’s so much information overload and there are so many people trying to push their work out there that we’re forgetting that perhaps simplicity speaks. ‘Less is more’ is my mantra.


I’m also curious to explore how my work can be used by people who cannot read or write a particular language and if they can read comics picture-by-picture. Perhaps it can be used to bring about social change – something I haven’t explored yet.


I’ve started making custom t-shirts , and more of that is definitely on the cards.


Let’s just say The Tap’s pipes are full.



What do you love the most about freelancing?


The variety of work I get to take up – from commissioned travel-writing trips to drawing caricatures! I’m exploring opportunities I never even knew existed. There’s a lot of stuff happening out there, beyond cubicle walls, and it’s great to be a part of it.


I also enjoy the variety of people that I meet – especially people who are starting up. The energy and enthusiasm is contagious.


Freelancing has also taught me to be disciplined – perhaps more than I would be in a full-time job.

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