Tryphena Ramos is currently an animation student at the De La Salle College of Saint Benilde interested in doing illustration. At the same time she also works as a clean-up artist for Lab Zero’s Indivisible RPG. When she’s not drawing, she also invests time in learning and creating sculptures. You can find more of Tryphena Ramos and her work on Twitter and Tumblr.

Q: Everyone has an origin story. Could you share with us the exact moment (or moments) wherein you realized that you wanted to become an artist?

I can’t pinpoint a moment as I was raised one by default – both my parents are art majors. I was (am still) constantly surrounded by art. My father would give me different mediums to try, and when he painted he would also get me a canvas so that we could both work on something. I’m lucky that I knew from a young age that art was a career option for me. I just wasn’t sure where exactly I’d specialize in yet. If we need to get into specifics, I suppose I’d say that I knew I’d like to be an artist in games when I was around 10, though I wasn’t sure if I could do so if I stayed in the country.

Q: From that moment, and throughout your journey as an artist, what has been your biggest struggle?

My father’s a creative in the advertising industry, and a successful one at that. He’d win awards and as a kid I’d watch streams of ceremonies, see him in magazines, and stuff like that. I’d known people who want to be/are artists tell me how lucky I am to be supported in the arts, and it’s true, in a way.

I was taught a lot of things about the field, techniques, but most importantly mindsets that continue to push me along to improve. I know I’m an artist, but I don’t know if I’ll ever meet his expectations of me. I don’t know if I can step outside his shadow, and the pressure to succeed has never let up. He can be a pretty harsh critic too and he bluntly tells me I’m not good at [insert thing/technique/process]. That stings! I can’t even defend myself by telling him he doesn’t know what he’s talking about because he does and it’s true! (hahaha)

Q: How have you been able to cope with (or overcome) this struggle?

I’m still trying to figure out how, myself. Along with my family’s expectations, I have to combat my own thoughts and doubts. Drawing for myself helps a lot – if it’s specifically just for me, and not for an audience, then I can enjoy the process much more.

Q: What would you consider is the ONE thing that REALLY helped you level up your skills?

I think the most important thing I picked up from my father’s guidance was how to look and admire other people’s art. Ever since I can remember he has always told me to look beyond the initial reaction of ‘wow they’re good’, and instead look at works analytically: why do I like this piece? How did this artist do it? I wasn’t allowed to think along the lines of ‘wow they’re so much better than me I give up’ because it’s a pointless thought and it won’t help. Instead, trying to visualize how a piece is made makes it easier for me to level up skills, figure things out, and enhance my own eye when looking at things.

Q: What is one thing you’d wish you’d known before you started your artistic career? Why?

I actually can’t think of one since I didn’t really have a solid ‘I’m going to start being an artist now’ point thanks to my upbringing. One thing I do wish younger me would’ve known is that I’d be more interested in less ‘anime’ styles in the future, since I used to draw in a ‘moe’ (cutesy) anime style that I’m not that interested in anymore. Also wish I focused more on oils vs watercolours, since oils seem more suited to my current aesthetic now.

Q: What drives or inspires you to continue making your art?

I think it’s just my general mindset at this point. I want to achieve goals, I want to get better. Art improvement stops when I’m dead, so there’s no end to what I want to do until then. I want to make things that I’ll be proud of. Plus, I just enjoy making art. It’s fun!

Q: What does your average day look like? (And when do you fit in the time to create art?)

I’m a night owl so I’m more active/productive in the evenings. My schedule’s a bit inconsistent since I’m still in college with an odd schedule, but I’m mostly creating art in the afternoons to early mornings. Unfortunately, Manila commute eats too much of my time, so I can’t do as much as I like. I’ve also been resting more often these days to try not to burn out or injure my hand with an RSI.

Q: How do you deal with distractions or challenges that you encounter while you’re working on your art?

I take breaks when I can’t focus. I like to work on things one chunk at a time. If I’m struggling with something on a piece, I’ll step away from it so that when I work on it again I’ll have fresher eyes. I’m still working on a personal timeline that works best for me, especially as I’m approaching the production phase of my student film.

Q: What do you do when you feel just completely uninspired or burnt out? How do you motivate yourself to start working again?

I like sculpting (unsurprising as I have a relative on my father’s side who was a sculptor) so I’ll do that as a creative output instead of drawing while I’m burnt out. That way I still get to make something, and usually I’ll be able to get back into a drawing state after a few days. Rest is important, so I also allow myself time to just sleep.

Q: What would you say has been your most EPIC win so far?

I made a small figurine of my favorite character. It’s not very good or that impressive, but it’s the 2nd thing I made with that specific clay material, so I’m very happy with it. Plus it made me realize that I could do some more sculptures. No merch? No problem! I’ll make it myself!

Q: What would you say has been your biggest failure?

My difficulty with and inability to draw good backgrounds. I really feel stupid when I try and it frustrates me to no end that no matter how much studying I do I can’t seem to get a decent grasp on it. Perspective grids are so confusing to me. It’s embarrassing but I think I need to go find a good teacher who can teach me one-on-one since I can’t follow along guides even though other people can.

Q: What, for you, has been the best way to promote yourself and your work to potential fans, clients, or publishers?

I’m not good at marketing myself since I like drawing mostly for myself, and thus draw things that aren’t popular/have big pull. I do the basics that other artists do, which is post my works on platforms like Twitter and Tumblr.

Q: What has been your game plan throughout your journey? What’s the BIG picture here? The ultimate dream? The end game?

I want to make art for games. There’s still way too many things I need to improve upon at the moment, but my main concern right now is to graduate so I can start throwing myself out there seriously.

Q: What, for you personally, has been the source of your ideas, creativity and talent?

I have always had big interest in history, fantasy, and mythology, so those are the main themes I like to work with. I love thinking about stories related to those themes and what kind of pieces I could create about it.

Q: What is your big “WHY”? Why do you feel the need to make art? Who are you doing it for? What’s the hidden reason behind your big dream?

It might not sound very inspiring but the truthful answer is ‘It’s all I can do’. It’s what feels right, what I can be considered ‘good’ at. I truly am passionate about art, though, so it works out for me I think!

Quick-Fire Questions

Q: What 3 stories (comics, movies, documentaries, novels, etc.) would you say influenced and inspired your work the most?

Ace Attorney, Professor Layton, and right now Mob Psycho 100.

Q: What are the top books, art books, blogs, podcasts, or workshops you’d recommend that helped you level up your skills? (Feel free to plug in as many as you’d like)

I can’t think of any of these but I do recommend the following YouTube channels: Sinix Design, James Gurney, moderndayjames, and azuMAN (for sculpting).

Q: If you could work remotely, from anywhere in the world, where would your office be? Why?

Here or Japan. Here because I’m already here and I speak the language, Japan because like a lot of people I like the place and the food especially.

Q: Name ONE artist/writer that, if you could, you would pick their brain and find out all the hidden secrets behind their amazing work?

I think I’d choose ONE since I really am floored by how great Mob Psycho 100 is.

Q: Who do you consider your biggest mentor that helped you improve your skills?
(Doesn’t have to be someone you’ve met personally. Can be someone you look up to, or someone whose art has inspired you to get better, over the years.)

I guess I’d have to say my dad? Even though he mostly just said things and left me to figure out what to do via self-study.

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