Social Media & Makers; Suganthi Ramalingam

Today’s interview is with my friend Suganthi Ramalingam who has kindly agreed to share her thoughts and perspectives with us. Make sure you check out her links at the end of this post.

What country do you live in?

Malaysia

Do you feel that being an artist in your country is different from being an artist in the United States? How so?

Being an artist is no different from country to country, in that it is dependent on your creativity and talent. I think the way it’s different, though, is that in the US there’s the opportunity to expand, to be better, competitions, art exhibitions, art schools, etc.

That’s the real challenge. For me, ever since I started working in mixed media, I’ve had this desire to go to art school but I can’t find a single art school for adults here. I can find a lot in Europe and the US, though.

What are some challenges of being an artist in your country?

Compared to Southeast Asia, we feel that people in Europe and the US are more receptive to arts and crafts. Here, it’s more difficult unless you are a fine artist and have links to the rich and famous.

I see so many competitions being hosted online. Here in Malaysia, they might have competitions but they don’t publish them online. Maybe they do but it’s hard to know what’s going on.

The opportunity to expand and widen your talents comes from taking part in competitions.

There is also the matter of the availability of products. Generally, the majority of the products I’d like to use are not available; even in stores that sell arts and crafts supplies.

They could be carrying Tim Holtz and Prima but only a limited variety of products and the prices are 3 to 4 times more than in the US. For example, I was contemplating purchasing Arteza Acrylic Paints, set of 60 colours. On Amazon, even without the shipping and tax, I’m going to be paying around RM250 my currency, MYR, which is $60 USD. Locally they are selling it for RM400 which is $96 USD.

It’s the same with Distress Ink crayons. Locally they were selling sets 4, 5, 6, and 7 for RM 330 ($79 USD) total and those were the only sets available. I bought them from Amazon for RM 175 ($42 USD) total which included shipping and tax. I normally don’t like to purchase from Amazon but when I’m purchasing in bulk I don’t mind because sometimes bulk shipping is actually cheaper.

Not all products are shipped here, either. Sometimes if I’m lucky I can get them.

It’s the same with Blitsy. The good thing about Blitsy is that their shipping is cheaper but unfortunately the price they charge for various products is different for the US vs non-US.

Do you feel that social media has had any impact on the way in which you view your work or on the way in which you view yourself as an artist?

Yes, social media has played an important role in both aspects but not in a negative way.

When I was crafting back then, technology was not this awesome. I didn’t know half of the things like mixed media or anything existed. Nowadays all I have to do is key in some words and I get everything about anything; Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, FB pages, steps on how to do this and that.

My entry to the artistic world was through a friend. She asked me to check Pinterest. I’d always had an account but didn’t know what to do with it, honestly. As you know, I’m a geek; I’m working as a Network Consultant and art is completely the other way around. I used technology for other things; the only social media I had was FB, YouTube and Pinterest, the latter two I hardly used. YouTube was mostly to watch comedy shows or songs once in a while.

I started clicking through the photos here and there, navigating, and that led me to YouTube videos.

That same friend then asked me to open an Instagram account to showcast my products. That definitely changed my life and how I viewed social media.

I took advantage of the most commonly used tools to turn my hobby into a small time business. I had locals who typed in arts and crafts on search engines and found me through those searches.

Social media also expanded my horizons. I learned about mixed media after watching my favourite artists like Umut Rados (@umutrados.art), Katja Mezzanote (@mezzanotteskapar) and Maremi SmallArt @maremis_small_art on YouTube. At that point in time I was not active on Instagram. Watching their videos made me learn more things and it’s what inspires me to do better and to continuously challenge myself. All the techniques I’ve learned were from watching those people.

If not for social media, I wouldn’t be able to craft this much. I have a long way to go but I owe it to social media for even being able to do what I’m doing now.

Without social media, I wouldn’t know the art of layering and texturing let alone learning about primers, the different mediums and so on.

What do you consider to be the most problematic or difficult aspect of social media for artists not residing in the US?

I get to know a lot of awesome artists and every one of them are 7 seas away. I would love to send each one of them cards but the costs of stamps and the timeline to wait for the mail to arrive just drives me nuts. Forget about crafting altogether! 😉 I get to craft at home and watch people live through my screen.

What, if anything, do you wish creative people in the US understood about creative people outside the US?

We really wish that the crafting world was not 100% centered on the products that are imported from the US due to the exchange rate. It would be so nice if they could try to have drop ship or if they could sell on the different online platforms that we have here.

Sometimes we feel that a lot of supplies are exclusive to the US only.

What is something that artists in the US could be doing differently on social media to be more sensitive or considerate of the struggles artists living outside the US have?

It would help if they could stop being totally centered on products alone and try to go free flow more. That would be awesome.

I know almost every artist and crafter wants to be a Design Team member but that opportunity becomes very slim when it’s dependant on your pocket.

It would also be nice to have competitions that were not product driven.

Anything you’d like to add?

I love what I do and I do what I love. Being a crafter and getting to know all the different artists I have on Instagram is a privilege. Seeing all the artwork makes me happy.

Art is not a competition; it’s a language of the soul. Art is to inspire, so let us not dwell on negativity and instead rejoice in ourselves for being able to put a smile on every face that comes across our work.

No matter how small or big, it’s a personal achievement. Share it, rejoice in it and feel the love.

Love you guys. Keep rocking the world. You make the world smile with your creativity.

Wow, Suganthi. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective. I’m especially moved by those powerful words you shared; “art is not a competition; it’s a language of the soul”.

That. That phrase is so crucial. We are all speaking the same language. Our soul language.

Please check Suganthi out on

Instagram

YouTube

Facebook

These are a few of her pieces that she’s given me the thumbs up on sharing:

This beautiful and intricate tag, which you can find in its entirety here.

Her very first mixed media piece which is truly a work of art! You can find it in her post here.

Once more, thank you so much for taking the time to share with us 💚

Until next time,

Beds, heads, take my meds,

Samantha

4 thoughts on “Social Media & Makers; Suganthi Ramalingam

  1. Wow, what a positive perspective on social media! I agree that there is much to love. I wish it was all rainbows and unicorns. Well, not actually rainbows and unicorns… those trends have run their course as far as I’m concerned and can go live with the sloths, owls, and foxes. But I wish all social media was a happy place for everyone. And I also wish the focus was not on the latest releases. There are a couple challenges that focus on using older products, like Retro Rubber Challenges where products must be at least 1 year old. I love any challenge that encourages you to grab from your stash, especially something you never used before.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, she really does have such a fresh, positive perspective. I love it. I also love that challenge idea, I’m going to look into it as the majority of what I own is older. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

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