Monday Muse: Morgan Ramberg

How long have you been creating art?
It’s kind of funny. When I was very young, I was constantly drawing or coloring. In home movies I’m usually sitting at the kitchen table with a coloring book or mugging for the camera. I remember taking these wonderful art classes at the Beverly Art Center as a kid (lots of fruit bowls), and then being the student who the ornery art teacher actually liked in grade school. And then I just abruptly stopped making things. I think what happened with me is so not unique, especially among girls. Art didn’t seem like a real career path. Meanwhile I was experiencing some early onset anxiety, and that impulse to make things just fell away. Being good at school seemed like the path to fortune and happiness, so I turned my attention toward being a really good student, whatever that means. Striving toward an abstract idea of perfection is bad for you! I burned out in college. I had to think about what I actually wanted to do, and for me that meant creating things. I switched my major to graphic design, and soon after decided to go all the way and focus on illustration. Been drawing hats and cats since then! 

What inspires your illustrations?
One of the illustrators I fell in love with when I was in school was Charley Harper. The geometry of the shapes combined with the textures felt so right to me. Then I started looking to illustrators who did something similar with their own style, like Ryo Takemasa and Sanna Annukka. I’m always trying to think about how to combine shape and texture in different ways. Often the thing that inspires a new piece is the thing that I feel is missing from the last one. If I make something more monochromatic, next I want to create an illustration with really bold colors. It goes back and forth like that, and I think that's why my style can vary. I try not to get bored!

What is the most challenging thing about continually creating?
Concentrating on one idea is so hard. I’ll be in the beginning stages of one project, and have an idea for something new that suddenly seems like it could be the best thing ever. Client work weirdly keeps me sane, because it takes precedence over everything else. Staying focused is much easier when you have an art director to answer to. 

But honestly, I get so much joy out of what I do. It is very corny, but the moments that you land on a really great color combination or concept are the best parts of my day. I think it’s what keeps me so motivated. It’s like you’re finding an answer to question that you didn’t have a day ago, and once you find a solution, new possibilities for work open up. 

What are your favorite types of projects to work on?
I like drawing fancy ladies and hair. Any time I can include those images I’m happy. I guess that’s why I’m an illustrator and not a fine artist! I remember in college, we had an artist speaker come in to class. She made large scale oil paintings, that were sort of Dali-esque. The imagery was grotesque but cool. Then she goes, “And if there’s one piece of advice I can give you, especially to the female artists, DON’T DRAW LADIES LOUNGING.” I guess she thought that drawing ladies undermined the Women’s Cause. But I like them, so who cares. 

All images from Morgan Ramberg

All images from Morgan Ramberg

What would you dream project be?
Doing a cover for The New Yorker. As I fall asleep each night, I whisper to myself “New Yorker cover next week, New Yorker cover next year, New Yorker cover in ten years”. I don’t really know what I mean, but it scares my cat.