Tony Award Winner Clint Ramos Gives Advice On How To Succeed In The Creative Industry
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Tony Award Winner Clint Ramos On Finding His Way In The Theater World

Photo by Martin Romero

Vogue Philippines taps several creatives to give tips, share advice, and inspire others who are interested in following a similar career path. Clint Ramos is an award-winning costume designer who won a Tony award for his work in the Broadway production of Eclipsed. Achieving such a feat made him the first person of color to win the award in that category, prefacing the 5 succeeding Tony nominations that he would later get for both scenic and costume design in other productions. 

Life. Life leads you to art. I started in the theater; political street theater to be exact, when I was in high school. That experience set me up to expect a lot from art and storytelling. I experienced first hand the power of what we do in changing philosophies.

At the University of the Philippines, I trained to be a director and designer. When I migrated to the US, I focused on design, mainly because traditional assignations and designations seemed to be what was done. I regret not having the agency to question that practice when I was young. I’m making up for that.

Courtesy of Clint Ramos

The Value Of Mentorship

Too many mentors to mention. Certainly a lot of artists and practitioners whose work has influenced me. [However,] mentorship is a tricky concept. It predicates power dynamics that, if left unexamined, could spiral into unhealthy creative practices. 

I value insight from peers. I learn much from them everyday. I mean, I think everyone and anyone in one’s life ought to be a repository for valuable insight. My pal, playwright and actor, Danai Gurira, says this: “Go where the love is”. That’s a huge mantra for me. Artistic nourishment can only be extracted from a place of abject love and generosity. An environment of love is necessary. 

Courtesy of Clint Ramos

I think about “Go where the love is” everyday. When I think a lot about that space in between pain and resolution, that’s the space where art grows out of because it certainly doesn’t grow purely in those polarized spaces exclusively. I can only experience that in the right environment. I intentionally go to places and seek out peers who lead with love to feel free enough to explore anything artistically. Sometimes I fail or I miscalculate.

Empowering The Next Generation

Practice, and I don’t mean rote repetition; more like a life practice. The best way I can describe what I do is [it is] akin to a spiritual practice. What we do is a “practice,” just like yoga or the meditative arts. Develop the mentality such that whatever your “craft” is feels inherent to your humanity.

Explore infinitely. Define it later. Find out what stories speak loudly to you. What truly moves you? Figure that out. Find what really keeps you up at night. Ultimately, we choose to do what we do to work something out. Otherwise, it feels like work. So unless that thing that you’re working out comes from your own authentic self, then you’re really just doing something false. 

Courtesy of Clint Ramos

Pain is a touchstone for growth, but don’t live in it. Normalize it. Normalize pain and fear and right size it. Check the guilt/shame matrix. Don’t be lazy and blame culture for the things you think are unchangeable. I wasted so much time not getting and asking for help which, in hindsight, was so unnecessary. Get your mental health in order. Stat. That’s work. Don’t run away from pain. Observe it, then mitigate it. 

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