Conversations with Ramya Ramakrishnan

Ramya is an independent designer, comic-maker and illustrator who likes to drink coffee and over-think. She collaborates with various folks making illustrations and comics, and build apps and websites. A graduate of Sir JJ Institute of Applied Art and National Institute of Design, she tries to explore different forms of visual expression, and finds it an exciting and challenging time to be an artist. Her comic has been published in Bangalore Graphic Novel (anthology) and will also be seen in an upcoming anthology edited by Orijit Sen.

1. What made you get into writing /drawing graphic novels?
I used to read comics as a child, but truly appreciating their capabilities as a storyteller only much later – it’s simply so powerful, you have the ability to show and tell just as much or as little as you want, compress or expand time, use only images, use text, as flexible as you need it to be. After being introduced to comics as a medium of expression, whenever I’ve felt the urge to say something, meaningful or otherwise, I first imagine it as a comic! But in saying that I do feel it’s not ‘easy’ to create, but it is very powerful when used.

2. What kind of graphic material you read or follow?
I read a variety of stuff, my earliest favourites were Superman and Batman to be honest, and I still like to read those. I also like to read personal stories shared through the medium of comics, be it long format like Alison Bechdel, or Barefoot Gen, or short anecdotal ones I see on social media. I find that the range of comics is so vast and wide I really try to read anything and everything.

3. What are your inspirations,  who were there earliest influences?
I’ve been inspired by a lot of the artists I’ve seen online, as well as some of those I’ve met in person. Meeting an artist and finding them to be just as human as you or me is one of the most motivating feeling. One constant source of inspiration is my mentor, Sekhar Mukherjee (Animation faculty at NID), who introduced me to comics as a creator and not just the reader.
4. What do you think of the current prevalent graphic novel and comic culture in India?

I think it’s a wonderful space which is growing in an interesting manner right now. As a creator, with the reach of the Internet, and self publishing (web or print), avenues to get your work seen are numerous. As a reader, you are getting an amazing variety of content across many genres and age-groups. The place that still needs maturity is acceptance and encouragement of comics as a profession and paid for appropriately. It has not yet grown enough to be a viable source of income, and that’s something I hope evolves soon.

5. Is it stagnating or growing?

Growing-up I would say, as more creators find ways to talk about things from the mundane to those that might be considered taboo in mainstream media, as well as having enough to room to accommodate any kind of art and story. It is a super flexible medium.

6. Does the current narrative prevalent in the graphic novel and comic world reflect our political and social situations?

Sometimes. There is freedom to have both self indulgent as well as self aware comics. It’s definitely a great space to comment about something, should one choose to.

7. As an artistic medium can we use this form to raise questions about our society and changing times?

Yes we can, and we should. As the medium of the comic gains popularity, it becomes a more powerful tool, and it can be as far reaching and powerful as the content it has & the way it’s distributed.
 Her work can be seen online at her website, behance or instagram accounts.

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