They say no matter where you go and what you do, your dreams don’t die when you have the passion for it. Today’s guest has had an interesting journey – from an aspiring medical candidate to an engineer to an MBA drop out to working in publishing then advertising, and finally settled on something that is truly hers. She tried many trades and yet, her love for storytelling and drawing never left her. Lucky for the world, she found her true passion and finally created TAP comics, which is a delightful mix of art, happiness, nostalgia and lots of good ‘ol humor!
Meet Ramya, creator of TAP comics as she chats about her colorful journey and why she chose a career that is completely different than what she set out to achieve. Plus her love for drawing and more.
Hi Ramya, please introduce yourself.
I am Ramya Sriram currently living in Loughborough, UK. I’m a cartoonist/ writer from Hyderabad, India. I draw comics and write stories (or vice versa) at thetap.in, a space where I hoard all these stories. I work full-time as a digital communications professional and by night as a cartoonist/writer.
Introduce us to your work. What got you started?
I’ve been drawing and writing since I was a kid, and my mum who is very artistic encouraged me to take up a variety of hobbies. My family was incredibly supportive – I learned to play the piano, sing, dance, make soft toys, calligraphy- all sorts of things. I coached for medical exams, studied engineering, dropped out of an MBA, worked in publishing, advertising, and freelanced – so it’s been an interesting journey altogether!
“When I was in school, my mother got me a book on understanding human anatomy, which had broken down forms to understand postures.I started drawing people in stick forms back then but didn’t take it seriously till many years later. I started drawing and writing alongside my first job, and then it just gradually grew into something bigger than a hobby.”
You wear many hats – A cartoonist, an illustrator, a travel writer, a poetess and a full-time job. How did it all start?
I think I’ve always been restless to some extent and writing/drawing/music has helped me channelize my energy. I’ve been writing poetry for long and writing has always been a sort of, a constant companion. My first book of poems was published by the late (and wonderful) Professor Lal of Writers Workshop Kolkata. I was encouraged to write more, and now it has just become a way of life, like brushing my teeth.
I think I find that there’s so much “input” happening every day, all that we see around us, so having a space for this “output” really helps. I think writing feels like home- whether it’s writing a travel piece or a poem or a comic, it’s a space I am really comfortable in.
“I’m tired of people telling others not to be sensitive, to grow thicker skin, to buck up and get real, be a man, etc etc. While I guess this is so that you develop some immunity to survive in this mad world, I’m not sure if being immune will really help”, she writes about this particular comic .
What’s your creative/Work philosophy – where do you take inspiration from?
I always joke that interesting stories just seem to find me :D. Earlier, my work was inspired by music, nature, and travel. Of late, I think my work is inspired by a periodic existential crisis I find myself in from questions about finding purpose, meaning, home, happiness etc.
I think I’m starting to see the world around me differently, and I’m trying to process those thoughts in my work. A lot of my comics are really personal, so am both alarmed and encouraged by the thought of them making an impact. Whether I draw about growing plants or the #MeToo movement, I think my work is influenced by everything that’s happening around me. It’s a space which is like a stage for me to tell stories on, but I also like to hide behind the curtains once in a while.
What do you hope people take away from your art?
I think my comics are all based on the simple joys of life, that may seem very insignificant but define us in so many ways. I have also done a few comics on social issues, and have worked with a couple of NGOs. Going forward, I want to continue to draw about social issues in association with relevant organizations so that people can take action if they want to (beyond likes/shares). I also want to tell stories from rural India – that’s something I’m looking forward to exploring.
Can you single out a favorite character you created from your work which you are particularly proud of?
I don’t have many character-based comics but I think “Amma Says” is close to my heart because it showcases the crazy yet wise things my mother says – and the horror of finding out that she’s mostly right.
Tell us about your latest work/project and how it inspired you.
Of late, I’ve been working on custom comics book for people who are celebrating birthdays/anniversaries or special occasions. It’s fun, drawing out someone’s life year by year and page by page. It feels great to work on something so personal and special to someone.
On an average, how long does it take for you to create a comic strip?
It depends, sometimes I think about an idea for days or weeks before it takes shape. Sometimes it takes a couple of hours if I have the story all figured out.
You have an interesting concept of storytelling on the writing section of your website. How is it different from writing stories using your doodles rather than real life photographs?
I think illustrations can be a fun visual tool for a travel piece, especially if you’re describing a journey like a hike or a train journey. You can weave in things that you might not be able to in photographs. It just enhances the storytelling and sometimes that visual narrative can be a story in itself.
Follow @thetapcomics on Instagram for more real-life puns and travel story illustrations, and more on her site TheTap.
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