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This interview first appeared in DNA on Tue, 29 Dec 2015-02:32pm. Link here.

India lacks opportunities for creative youth, says comic strip artist Ramya Sriram

27-year-old Ramya Sriram from Hyderabad discovered she loved to doodle on anything and everything. An engineering graduate, she dropped out of here MBA and started working in the ad world. But her love for doodling made her quit her full-time job and set up The Tap.

27-year-old Ramya Sriram from Hyderabad discovered she loved to doodle on anything and everything. An engineering graduate, she dropped out of her MBA and started working in the ad world. But her love for doodling made her quit her full-time job and set up The Tap (thetap.in). In an exclusive chat with dna, Ramya talks about ‘The Tap’ and opportunities for creative youth in India.

When did you discover you had a passion for art and stick figures in particular?

 My mum got me a book on chalk figures when I was in school and I think that had a big impact on me. I started to use stick figures to make little stories for friends while I was in college. As I drew more figure stories, I realised it was the perfect medium of expression for me. I talk a lot, so using a minimalist drawing style was also a way of proving to myself that I could say a lot in less!

coasters

Coasters by Ramya

What made you set up ‘The Tap’?

A friend saw my stick figures online and asked me to run a comic strip for his magazine. It was something I hadn’t done before and I thought – why not? ‘The Tap’ started off as a light-hearted comic about music, travel and everyday, ‘life’s like that’ situations. I started receiving requests for personalised drawings. After that, there’s been no looking back. I made products – t-shirts, coasters, keychains, etc. and showcased at some of the Comic Cons in India. ‘The Tap’ is now a place to narrate stories, both visually and verbally. A space to stick-figure out life!

It’s been three years since you set it up. How has the response been?

The response has been spectacular. For me, simplicity is key, and I think that is what many people relate to. I take up requests to create wedding invites in the form of comics, and the response to that has been really good. So has the demand for the merchandise, especially customised t-shirts. I also run a strip dedicated to all mothers called ‘Amma Says’ and that has picked up fairly well, too.

Do you think creative youngsters in India have enough opportunities?

The opportunities that nurture creativity in youngsters in India are largely lacking. There’s a lot of focus on getting what people consider a “sensible” degree. However, with more and more people deviating from the traditional path to follow their passions, this trend should hopefully change soon. There are also a number of schools that are now realising the importance of encouraging children to discover what they’re good at, rather than follow a set pattern, and I think that will show promising outcomes.

ramya sriram

Ramya at Comic Con

What do you want to do in the next five years with The Tap?

I’d like to use the power of visuals to create awareness on social issues such as cleanliness and women empowerment. I think the advantage of using simple visuals is that it can break language barriers. I also would like to widen the range of ‘The Tap’ merchandise.

What have you learnt as a young entrepreneur?

The hardest thing for me to learn was that it’s impossible to do everything in one go. It’s important to learn to be patient, take one step at a time and also delegate work where possible. Tips for others – don’t spend too much time on ‘what ifs’. Don’t let fear prevent you from taking a chance, and don’t let the maybes come in the way of what can be!

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