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Art talk by: Maryssa Rose Chavez
Photography by: Jinni J 

When I think multitalented, brilliant, and someone with an array of talents I always think of Rohitash Rao.
Rohitash is an assistant professor at the University of Texas in the Moody College of Communication in their Advertisement department, a full time art director, fine artist, illustrator, writer + so much more. In additional to all of this, Rohitash gets his shirts printed by us via Raw Paw Drop Ship, which is a somewhat new venture for him and something he has found great success in.
With this being said, we were lucky enough to do this Art Talk and learn more about his art practice, and the journey that brought him to being a creative living in Austin and someone who is promoting the growth of young people, and sharing with us all how a multi talented/skilled artist makes a living in an ever changing world.  

Photography by: Jinni J

Maryssa:
Hi Rohitash I am Maryssa, it’s very nice to meet you!
I am so excited to learn more about you and I would love to start this Art Talk off with a who, what, when, where. This is a free space for you to share a bit about yourself for those who don't know you well. <3

Rohitash:
Thank you, Maryssa, happy to chat with you. In a nutshell, I like to just think of myself as a “maker of stuff.” I never had one specific path I wanted to follow, I just wanted to let my ideas guide the way. Over the course of my career/life I’ve been, and still am, an art director, a director, an animator, a writer, an illustrator, a fine artist and now, a teacher.

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Maryssa:
You are currently an assistant professor at the University of Texas Moody School of Communication, and I would love to learn about your move toward becoming a professor and what motivates you in this role.

Rohitash:
It kind of came out of the blue. I never thought about teaching on this kind of level - I’ve had interns before and I’ve spoken at grade schools about my writing and I would talk to kids about our children’s books, but I never really thought about teaching at a university. But I quickly realized my approach was the same, just talk about the creative process- being creative is ageless. So even though I’m part of the ad-program at UT, I just talk about the basics of how to take an idea from start to finish. I tell the students you can apply the methodology of advertising to anything.

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Maryssa:
Favorite color in the entire world, and where would you imagine it lives, (ie. lives on the ocean floor near Chile)?

Rohitash:
Remember that person who invented the blackest of black paint? That’s my favorite color - just because of the pure science and effort to create it!

Maryssa:
I am interested in your Paint on Trash series, and I would love to learn more about where that inspiration came from?

Rohitash:
HA! Well, that purely came out of budget - in other words, I didn’t have any. What do you when you just have to paint and you have you no money to buy canvases and fancy paint? You grab household paint out of your parents garage and find discarded cups, cans and pieces of wood and make stuff. In the beginning I used to have, “art for beer” nights at bars and I would just show up with a cigar box full of trash art and sell them for a beer to my friends.

Maryssa:
You are an extremely interesting person to me with a seemingly endless array of skills, jobs, and art mediums. How do you organize yourself and keep a consistent art practice with as many things that you do? What is some advice that you could give to multifaceted artists such as yourself?

Rohitash:
I never think of myself as these different “skills” - they’re all just me. I’m just me with different tools in my hand. Just like a hammer is a tool, so is a camera, an iPad, a paintbrush, the one holding all those things is the same person.

Maryssa:
Children's books seem to be something that is quite important to you, and I love a children's book being that I think that the art and the story are almost equally important to conveying the message to a child. Do you agree? What comes first, the writing or the illustration?

Rohitash:
I did all the books with my dear friend and writing partner, Peter Nelson. And both book series, Creature Keepers and Herbert’s Wormhole started out as either a TV show idea or a movie. We never initially saw them as a book series, so the story came first. Once we knew we were going to turn them into books, and we have a story arc in mind, he went off and wrote it and I drew it.

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Maryssa:
You have been printing shirts with us via Raw Paw Drop Ship for a couple months now I would love to learn more about your experience with using this service and seeing/having your art printed on shirts?

Rohitash:
I started out as an art director and I have always loved design from the perspective of typography, fun graphic images, and catchy lines - basically all the stuff that works on t-shirts. So Raw Paw has been a dream place to work with. I can just upload my giant list of images to you and boom- there is a link i can share with the world. 

"... these different “skills” - they’re all just me. I’m just me with different tools in my hand. Just like a hammer is a tool, so is a camera, an iPad, a paintbrush, the one holding all those things is the same person."

"First and foremost it’s just a pencil and piece of paper. It’s so pure. Then I guess it’s a paintbrush. Then I’d say stop motion animation, more like claymation, I love building miniature sets and playing with dolls. Yeah, I said dolls."

Photography by: Jinni J

Maryssa:
If you could say, in order of importance, what medium do you prefer to work in?

Rohitash:
First and foremost it’s just a pencil and piece of paper. It’s so pure. Then I guess it’s a paintbrush. Then I’d say stop motion animation, more like claymation, I love building miniature sets and playing with dolls. Yeah, I said dolls.

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Maryssa:
What brought you to Austin and what keeps you here?

Rohitash:
UT brought me here. But honestly, I’ve always thought Austin was one of the friendliest places I’ve ever been to when I would visit while living in L.A. and New York (which is where i’ve lived my whole life.) But what keeps me here is all the things I love in the world are here - art, music and film. That’s what Austin is all about, and that’s why I love it.

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Maryssa:
What are some announcements/events that you would like to share that more people can check out and support you in?

Rohitash:
Right now I’m in the middle of finishing a stop motion music video for one my favorite musicians ever. Fingers crossed it will be released in a month.

Thank you Rohitash for allowing us to gain a ton of insight into how you have found success in so many mediumships. We especially appreciate your advice that you believe that although there are different tools for each mediumship they ultimately are the same art just utilizing different tools. That blew our minds and we are grateful to have learned this from you! 
If you want to see more of what Rohitash is up to you can follow him on Instagram and find more work via his Website. ✨