So if you're into color and you're into Instagram, you're proooobably (or should be!!) into Ramzy (also known as @space.ram). He takes photos- sometimes his own, often others submitted to him via firstname.lastname@example.org- and through digital magic, turns them into gorgeous, rainbow masterpieces. They're so stunning, I've literally gasped out loud a few times after seeing one!
After watching him blow up over the past few months (including designing wallpaper for the Museum Of Ice Cream, no big deal), I knew I had to pick his brain a little and get to know more about him and his work. And let me add- he might be one of my favorite interviews ever! So many of his answers, I was like "yes, yessss so true!" So dig in for some creative wisdom from the rainbow king, himself...
1. WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
Hi! I'm Ramzy (space.ram) and I'm a graphic designer / teen girl / alien unicorn / professional homo.
2. WHAT IS YOUR CREATIVE BACKGROUND? HAVE YOU ALWAYS LOVED TO CREATE OR DID THAT COME ABOUT LATER?
I knew from a pretty early age that I was a designer. I loved art and drawing and painting, and discovered design through newspaper and yearbook in high school. My career has been meandering since — at first I wanted to go into editorial design, then I ended up in packaging — mostly food and beverage. I moved over to web design, then motion graphics and now my freelance / personal work focuses on photo manipulation. My first love was painting, so it feels a bit like I've come full circle — I'm basically digitally painting over photos.
3. YOU HAVE SUCH A FUN, UNIQUE PHOTO STYLE! HOW DID THE RAINBOW-LOVE START?
Thank you!! I like to believe the rainbows have always been inside me, though it took the internet to really draw them out. I've always been interested in color and when I moved to NYC a couple years ago I used my instagram as a visual color journal — I'd hop around to art galleries, murals, etc. looking for colorful things to take pictures of and eventually it got tiring! There's lots of beauty in New York but in all honesty most of it is pretty gray! So I thought, well I have this photo-manipulation skill set that I'm not using that I totally could be. For gay pride that year I decided to try colorizing some NYC landmarks and well... the response really surprised me! I've been doing it ever since.
4. IS GRAPHIC DESIGN/PHOTOGRAPHY YOUR FULL-TIME JOB? IF NOT, WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO?
Yes! I'm a Senior Designer for Nickelodeon's On-Air Design team. We create promo motion graphics and branded experiences with our universe of properties. I've worked on styling and Art Direction for our live-action photo shoots, which happen occasionally. For these shoots I've done everything from prop styling to wardrobe, BTS photography and creative / art direction.
5. AS WITH MOST BEAUTIFUL THINGS, THERE'S ALWAYS MORE TO IT THAN MEETS THE EYE! WALK US THROUGH YOUR PROCESS..
So it starts a few different ways — I'm walking down the street and I see something, I'm exploring insta and I discover a photo, or I receive a submission. There's some things that make some photos great candidates to be edited:
— There's lots of repetitive elements... like columns or leaves or windows.
— There's a fractured or segmented area.
— There's an area of interest, like a glowing light or a focal point.
— Medium-range tones, not too dark or too light.
Then I crop the image, throw some adjustments on and start coloring. It's like a coloring book to be honest, I use my tablet and a stylus and hand-color the image. Its tedious but I really believe sometimes its good to make things hard for yourself. So much of the time people are focused on streamlining their process, but I feel like by making it difficult I have more time to think as I'm coloring, and it feels more playful than a job. I'm a big believer that the best things come from a state of play. :)
6. STANDING OUT AS AN ARTIST ON SOCIAL MEDIA/ONLINE IS NOT EASY! WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS HELPED YOU? (P.s. I looooved the pink + yellow palm frond mural you created for MOIC. If that was a wallpaper available for sale, I would buy it immediately.)
Haha, so true! Figure out what your gig is and just keep making stuff. Like, whatever your "brand" is. How do you see the world differently than your friends? Or, if you could choose to see the world in a certain way, what would it look like? A big thing is that you don't totally have to *know* that going-in... as long as you commit to trying to post often (like 4-7 times a week) you can have that dialog with yourself thru making. Eventually, things will keep bubbling up to the surface and a style will emerge. If the work is coming from a place of love and play and exploration you're bound to discover something unique that you can run with. My thing I always say is just *make stuff* like... don't talk about doing it, just do it. I know its cheesy and like weirdly simple but if you commit to cultivating your own voice everything kinda domino-effects from there. Oh!! Okay and one last thing — its called social media for a reason... have real conversations with your followers and try to build community. Encourage folks when they post cool stuff and you'll see real friendships develop and notice that people start advocating for your work and your growth. That really helps!!
7. WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF YOUR JOB?
I love the challenge of doing something creative for myself every day. Before I started space.ram I got into the rhythm of only doing my day job. It's hard to make work for yourself outside of the normal 9-5 but I feel way more fulfilled when I make time for myself! I also believe that the world is yours to see and interpret... I like trying to find the positive in everything. Also I am very proudly gay, and I feel like its important to make every day a pride parade.
8. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES?
In all honestly there's nothing glamorous about the amount of time and dedication this project eats up. In addition to my full-time job I spend a lot of nights and weekends painstakingly recoloring images. I LOVE it, so that's not a complaint... just a challenge sometimes when I have lots of other commitments. One other thing... my work gets stolen a lot, or reposted without credit... or even reposted with credit in a way that seems secondary, used to market all kinds of things. I get discouraged when my work is stolen but I've tried to see it as flattery.
9. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE DOING IN THE NEXT 5-10 YEARS?
Some of this is TOP-SECRET, but I'd like to run my own business... the goal being translating my instagram more into real-life. Stay tuned, it's going to be so fun!!
10. WHAT'S YOUR BEST ADVICE FOR SOMEONE LOOKING TO CARVE THEIR OWN CREATIVE PATH?
Find your mentors, listen to what they have to say but do what you want to do, regardless of what people say or think about it. Whatever makes you happy, whatever excites you... do that!! And really commit to it, really work at it. So many people talk about doing things and never do them. I think its easy to dream but there are so few people that actually follow them.
11. TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOU FEW PEOPLE KNOW! :)
I'm pretty healthy generally but I am obsessed with french fries. Like I can eat unlimited french fries and also I basically have no control over myself and can't stop once I start. Is that bad? LOL
*Note: Pastel Desert Rocks and Rainbow Mountain Images are by @tommylundberg, with edits by @space.ram; Rainbow Beach Cottage is by @brightbazaar, with edits by @space.ram; all other images are by @space.ram.
Thanks so much to Ramzy- I can't wait to see what's next for him... I feel like he could be this generation's Andy Warhol, don't you? ;)
If you need more Ramzy Rainbows in your life (yesss, you do), you can find him here: