It is easy to imagine an engineer aimlessly scribbling on the back of her notepad but harder to picture an engineer creating comics. And yet, this is exactly what Ramya Sriram did. Deciding to pursue her passion, this remarkable artist started creating hilarious, witty and perceptive stick figure comic strips and cartoons, addressing issues that many of us face in our daily lives. The Tap now has now developed into a full-fledged platform with thousands of fans.
We spoke to Ramya about doodles, existential crises and funny things that our mums say:
What is The Tap? When and how did you start it?
The Tap is a space for me to tell stories verbally and visually – it’s a repository of all my experiences and ideas translated into words and pictures. It started off as a stick-figure comic strip, which it predominantly still is, about 7 years ago. I also work on personalized comic books and stories for individuals and organizations.
How do you decide what topics to discuss through the strip?
The comic strip focuses on everyday ‘slice of life’ themes. I think it addresses a variety of topics from music and art to dealing with existential crises. A lot of my work is about finding purpose and meaning in a world that’s getting really crowded and cluttered, both online and offline. The comics serve as a reminder of the smaller, simpler joys of life.
In your TEDx talk you discuss a ‘less is more’ philosophy. Tell us about how you consciously use stick figures to this end.
I really enjoy the process of being able to make a point using as few lines as possible, both in drawing and writing. Stick figures naturally lend themselves to a ‘less is more’ concept – it’s such a broken down form, but can be really impactful.
I think simplicity can speak volumes.
The trick is to make the story/content powerful enough. I enjoy that process, and it’s something I’m still learning to do. While I ramble a lot if you speak to me in person, I think it’s the opposite when I draw/write. I can say what I want or need to succinctly.
We love your comic series ‘Amma.’ What are your favourite story lines?
Thank you! The Amma Says series aims to depict the hilarious things my mum says and the horror of finding out that she’s mostly right. Here are a couple of my favourites.
What are some of the more controversial storylines?
I don’t think there are any controversial storylines. My comics are mostly about the simple joys of life, acts of kindness, and dealing with everyday ups and downs.
And anyway, controversy is generated by people who react to your work right 🙂
What’s the best part about creating comic strips?
For me, writing and drawing is a space where I find peace and relief. Drawing comics helps me internalize and process experiences. It’s something that’s just become part of my everyday life and routine.
I like that the stick figure format has inspired many people to start drawing – both kids and adults. And I like that it can be a really powerful way to deliver a message that can make people sit up and take notice, even if they don’t take immediate action.
But I think creating itself is personally rewarding.
Tomorrow if nobody read my work or looked at it, you’d still find me drawing/writing in a corner. And I think knowing that makes me feel very peaceful. It’s a space that feels like home.
Although most of us believe in pursuing what we love the most, rarely do we actually do it. Ramya’s story gives us pause to consider what still could be.
Written by Vaishali Parnami
All images credit: Ramya Sriram