We asked an insta-poet how to make it on the internet

Romlynn Ramos has over 15000 followers on Instagram


London.

The centre of the world. The centre of art, and a cornucopic cot for creativity. The crèche of endless possibilities, from which budding creatives hope to nurture their visions and claim famous recognition.

The place where their dreams go to die.

The city is a notorious site for artistic cradle death, where the majority of student artists (visual, literary, filmographic, etc.) will likely break bank before they break into London’s elite, creative sphere. And walking the streets of Shoreditch or Camden, it’s clear to see that many have traded canvases for brick walls, or dampened pavements to chalk out their artistic manifestos.

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However – where galleries and literary magazines have failed millennial visionaries, social media has helped to resurrect their art in a boundless, unsolicited fashion.

Social media artists, the illuminati of creative vision, are only around 20-28 years old. Despite their youth, they appear to have eclipsed many of the famed personas who appear in the Saatchi gallery or the Literary Review. Is being young, beautiful and “insta-famous” more conducive to being successful in this day and age?

UCL writer Romlynn Anne Ramos, otherwise known as R.A. Ramos to her 15,000 (and counting) fans on Tumblr and Instagram, discusses her trajectory from being an aspiring song-writer to internationally published poet, the “how-tos” of becoming a recognised, student artist and the reality of art creation beyond London’s city walls.

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Romlynn tells me writing has always been a part of her life. “I was an academic writer, initially an English Student at Royal Holloway. But I started writing poetry through song-writing, but I couldn’t sing and I used to write my lyrics on my iPhone.

“I started writing when my best friend gave me a typewriter for my birthday when I was twenty-one. I then wrote a random poem that I saved on my iPhone, I took a photo of it and sent it to her, which she thought I should have shared.

“It’s reception boosted my confidence, which made me wonder what else I could do with my writing. I initially wanted to just show my new typewriter on instagram, but after a week I got in contact with my first few followers and developed a good relationship with them, which made me want to continue.”

She explains how social media “opened up a lot of avenues”, and tells me about the difference between writing for yourself and sharing it in a collective group.

“The fact that they know you makes you wonder whether the judgement of your work is really there. So, once you put your art on social media, you do get trolls, all sorts of people commenting on your work. So, if someone says “they hate your work”, you know they are being genuine because they don’t really care about anonymity. In my case, I was lucky to have a good reception, which helped me to accept that this was what I really wanted to do with my life.”

The concept of anonymity seems to be integral to her work, and in the world of social media it appears it’s something which influences the work of many artists. I’m told about how the tension between the anonymous and the familiar features a lot in her work, and she tells me how “the fact that I don’t show anything but my writing helps me in ways that I know that my followers aren’t there for anything else, but my writing.

“This helps me grow more, as it shows that it wasn’t my appearance, but my words, which attracted my followers. If someone finds your words more attractive than your appearance, that is what I consider the highest compliment.

“Everything on social media is about the aesthetic, so once you know that you’ve made a connection through your words or your art, that is mind-blowing. It shows that there is still integrity in creating art, without the guise of “celebrity” or anything like that.”

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She goes on to explain how influential social media can be, and how it can act as a muse for social media artists. “For a person who can’t travel around the world, looking at these photos on social media is inspiring. Especially when you’re a creative writer and you need influences and inspiration. It’s hard being in a bubble in your home town – even in London it’s hard to find other people who write like you.

“The fact that social media opened up so many connections helped me write. My writer friends on instagram would send things to each other, work back and forth in the middle of the night, which is inspiring in itself as a writer and a person within the social media writing community.”

Ramos also remains optimistic about the ability of creatives to strike out in modern times, suggesting it’s about lateral thinking, and “ingenuity and style.”

“In my case, I always use a typewriter which has its own personal aesthetic – social media is very much about that. Other artists write to be relatable, instead of writing in order to relate to other people.

“In other words, they write just for instagram. Because they want those “likes”, so they then put their stake on social media by collecting how many thousands of followers. So, for some people, they will post one-line poems every two hours, just so people can read their words more easily and repost them afterwards. It’s a quick digestion of art, in that sense. And more easily relatable, I guess – which is how they choose to strike out.”

Romlynn often attends pop-up spoken word events

Romlynn often attends pop-up spoken word events

She thinks social media can be both a positive and negative thing, suggesting it’s “subjective to each person on there. It is detrimental to some, in the sense that it can cheapen some art forms. For example, some people consider reading these one-liners as reading poetry, but don’t know Auden or Wordsworth.

“But, reposting famous lines from the popular classics, has certainly created in poetry once again. It left for a bit, but its making its comeback now.”

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On her experiences of writing at university, she spoke about the English Li stereotyps and how it differs to reality.

“I think people have this weird image of English Literature students constantly having a glass of wine in one hand, and a copy of something like Kafka in the other, reading it in a darkly lit room. My experience was nothing like that, of course. It was pretty chilled, and we only discussed writing when it came to assignments. Even if it was creative, we would discuss what we’ve written without the pressure of critiquing every piece of work, or it being scrutinised.”

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If you too want to test the waters of social media art-sharing, Romlynn advises you “start now.”

“Do it now, don’t wait to start sharing your work. Become self-aware in terms of your art, and how to share with others what you’re going through and receiving their art in return. That’s the ultimate goal for a writer or any creative, to make someone else feel something from your art. So my advice is to start now, and keep writing.”

Her book “For Me, For You, For Us” is coming out soon.

Follow R.A. Ramos and her publisher Underwater Water Mountains Publishers on Instagram, or check out her tumblr and their website.