You’ve seen her artworks as you log in to tumblr, on your dashboards as it earn hundreds of reblogs, and ring a bell on your tumblr radar. Born and raised in the Philippines, and a Parsons School of Design graduate, 23 year old Monica Ramos learns the real value of independence, and passion for her wonderful craft. In this exclusive interview for Tumblr Magazine PH, the Brooklyn-based artist talks about her art inspirations, a slice of her life and why Philippines will always be her home.
A little background on your life here in the Philippines. Where do you live? Have you graduated from college? Where and what course did you take up?
I was born and raised in Manila and am living in Brooklyn now. I graduated from the illustration program at Parsons.
The story behind the shift from the Philippines to US. Are you with your family, or are you on your own? How was the adaptation process?
I came here as a student and often come back home on vacation. It was really tough at first, the first few months especially. I had a real bad case of culture shock, but eventually opened up to people and started to appreciate the independence. I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity. Right now I’m focusing on promoting myself, planning a couple little shows and trying to get more work.
What was Monica’s dream when she was a kid?
I wanted to be either a princess or a rockstar.
How were you as a student?
Things that you miss back here in the Philippines.
The food! I l fresh coconut, bibingka, puto bumbong and, of course, my family and friends (and dogs).
Do you have plans of coming back here?
Definitely! The Philippines is always home.
(“Warm Water” —as seen on on Tumblr radar. Yeah. A Pinoy was behind this amazing painting.)
When did you discover your knack for watercolor painting?
I’ve always been fascinated and intimidated by watercolors, because when I was a kid my mom told me that it’s “the hardest medium.” I like how light and transparent washes can get and when the pigment gathers at the edges. You have to handle everything with a light touch. I don’t think there was a specific moment that I discovered a talent for it. It’s taken a lot of practice and I still am figuring things out.
Upon observation, I can see that most of the subjects of your paintings are nude people.
It’s a non-sexual nudity. Well, it’s a little sexual, but it’s not vulgar. I had a lot of Catholic School guilt about my body as a teen. I felt ashamed showing skin, so I wanted to make some work about our bodies are beautiful and natural. About how we are all the same underneath our clothes and that connects all of humanity.
I really find your art interesting, beautiful and detailed. To be honest, I was surprised after finding out that you’re a Filipino. It was after seeing one of your artworks with the word “Patay Gutom” on it. Monica, what are your inspirations for your artwork?
I am really into Chinese and Japanese paintings, especially how they hardly use 2 or 3 point perspective. They depict scenes how they were, seen by an all knowing observer instead of someone actually in the scene. It’s similar to Buddhist art from the Himalayas, which I also love. I feel like my personal work is mostly about dealing and expressing with emotions. Painting becomes a kind of therapy in which I make places where there are no worries.
You’re selling your paintings online.
Yes, you can take a look at my shop over here (https://www.etsy.com/shop/monramos