Rohitash Rao was born in Hyderabad, India and raised in Rancho Cucamonga, California. He has been drawing since he could hold a pencil and used to draw on everything and anything he could find. (Funny how nothing's changed.)
He graduated with a BFA with honors from the Art Center College of Design in 1991 and started his career in advertising. He spent many years as an art director creating award-winning ads for brands like Taco Bell, Little Caesars Pizza, Staples, Toyota, Energizer and Playstation. His work garnered prestige from the One Show, D&AD, the Clios, Cannes Communication Arts and the AICP.
His witty advertising got him a job as a creative director at the SciFi channel. There he created more award-winning work which also allowed him the opportunity to direct many of the promos he wrote for the network.
This led to his departure from advertising and he began his career as an animator/director. He started out as a stopmotion animator/director and soon one of his short films was part of the Saatchi and Saatchi New Directors Showcase at Cannes in 2005. In 2007 his “Battle of the Album Covers” was a viral hit, getting over a million hits on YouTube and was written up in Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone. His animated films have played in over 25 film festivals around the world including TriBeCa, Woodstock, Ottawa, Annecy and The Spike and Mike Sick and Twisted Film Festival.
The “Album Covers” short got the attention of many bands and soon Rohitash started directing music videos. He has created several videos that are a mix of live and animation for My Morning Jacket, Poison, Sean Kingston, Colbie Caillat, A Great Big World and Capital Cities.
In 2009 Rohitash and his longtime writing partner, Peter Nelson, published their first children’s book, “Herbert’s Wormhole” through Harper Collins. J.K. Rowling gave it a thumbs up and it soon led to a trilogy. The books are now sold all over the U.S., Brazil and Korea. Their second book series, “Creature Keepers” is a 4-book series and book 4 is due out in October 2017.
In 2012 he and Peter created an animated pilot for Fox called “Rancho Cucamonga” that was based on Rohitash’s life growing up as the only Indian family living in Rancho Cucamonga. The pilot was produced by Lorne Michaels but as of yet has not been picked up.
In 2015 Peter and Rohitash created a number of animated short films for Comedy Central called “Anau Jiram” which airs on an animated block of comedy called “Trip Tank.” Peter and Ro call this their “Beavis and Butthead” and is about two idiot 20something roommates who have surreal adventures. (“Anau Jiram” is “marijuana” spelled backwards.) So far they’ve created 9 shorts and they are voiced by comedians like Margaret Cho, Sarah Baker and Zach Pearlman.
Alongside all the years of animating and bookmaking, Rohitash has always found time to paint. No matter what city he is in he has always found random items of trash on the streets to paint on. His work reflects our cultural consumption created on the very things that we throw away. His paintings are conceptual and clever and are a thought-provoking (and often funny) take on the way we live.
He has been in several group shows including Tag Gallery (Santa Monica), Giant Robot (Santa Monica), the Ojai Art Festival (Ojai, California), Create Fixate (downtown LA), Parrallax Art Fair (Venice), Mirror Mirror (Santa Monica Museum of Art), Gallery1988 (Hollywood) and the Venice ArtWalks (held at Google in Venice Beach.)
He had his first solo show at Fathom Gallery in Downtown L.A. in February 2016, his second solo show at Kustera Projects in Red Hook, Brooklyn in July 2016 and his third solo show (in collaboration with Kathy Hepinstall Parks) again at Fathom Gallery in January 2017. He is working on a new solo show which should take place in the summer of this year.