Rama Hughes

Artist Bio/Story:

The Almost Entirely True Story of my Life

Okay, dear readers, autobiographies are hard for me. So, I’m making this one hard for you too. It’s a game. Every paragraph contains one lie. Can you find them all? Like the New York Times crossword puzzle and life itself, the game will become more challenging as it progresses.

I was born in 1974 in Tallahassee, Florida. My dad said that I shot out of my mom “like a rocket” and he caught me “like a football.” I was covered head to toe in downy blue fur.

My parents met on a flight to India. My father asked my mother if she was a hippie and she asked if he was a dork. He was actually a famous poet, Langston Hughes. They met again coincidentally on the return flight to America. He fell asleep on her shoulder. He drooled on her. Presto! That’s amor!

My family lived in an actual factual inuit igloo for several months. Before my little brother was born, I dreamt that he would climb out of our mother’s belly button. She took a job as a secretary. My dad attached a carriage to his bike and rode us around town every day. I still fantasize about the red, wooly jacket and green galoshes that I wore back then.

We moved to Gainesville where several formative things happened: I rescued my brother from the attack of a tiny, but vicious squid. I jumped off a diving board and face first into cement. I brushed my teeth with shampoo. I thought that mud was quicksand. I believed that mirrors were windows into parallel universes. My favorite tv show was The Great Space Race.

I grew up in Miami, Florida. My brother and I shared a bunk bed in my grandparents’ house. My sister was delivered in a pool by a team of snorkelling midwives. When I first saw her, I didn’t believe that she was real. She looked too much like a smurf. My dad disappeared for days at a time and converted surprisingly to Rush Limbaughism. He moved away but we visited him at the sprout farm.

I attended a travelling school called the Miami Elementary Tutorial. I didn’t always wear a shirt. I played the Fox in our first grade production of The Little Prince. My second grade teacher used flash cards to teach us the Joy of Sex. I told my third grade teacher that my mom wanted him to ask her out. Six years later, they were married.

I went to public school eventually. I was occasionally beat up there for studying karate and jazz dance at the same time. In fourth grade, I distributed my first zine: Why Transformers are Cool.

Somehow, my mom got me into a fantastic private school where hookers flirted with the sixth graders every day around five. I was a crossing guard. On the weekends, the neighborhood boys, my brother, and I stayed up all night playing strip poker. I received a weekly allowance of $5.00. I spent the majority of it on comic books.

In middle school, I went hystercally blind before a physics exam. I became fluent in Spanish.

For high school, I attended what used to be the Adirondack-Florida school. I was passionate about water polo, drawing, and my girlfriend. She wanted me to perm my hair “like Greg Brady.” Every weekend, my friends and I played Dungeons & Dragons on the roof of my house. I didn’t always wear a shirt. My favorite artist was my brother.

I matriculated to the Maryland Institute, College of Art. My grandmother complained that my artwork was terrible. My brother assured her that it would improve. “He’ll do what he did before,” He told her, “Only better.” Meanwhile, I enjoyed an enormous number of poetry slams and one-night stands. I fell in love with Maira Kalman, Dave McKean, and a girl from another school. My favorite recreation was bowling, nintendo, and drawing until four in the morning. I had only the vaguest idea of what to do with my life.

I went to work on a farm in Virginia. Meet me in person and I will bore you quickly with stories that begin this way “When I was on the farm…” I crashed a tractor. I got in a fist fight with my boss. I survived a tornado. I was temporarily deaf. Among a thousand amazing things that happened there, I decided that there might be other occupations that I enjoy as much as shovelling horse manure.

I returned to Baltimore to pursue my illustration career. Between assignments, I supported myself as a Greenpeace activist and a book clerk. My best friend and I lived together in an apartment near the prison. My favorite days were spent drawing, dining at our favorite indian buffet, visiting the comic book store, watching Due South, and drawing. I climbed fire escapes to battle my fear of heights. When I made enough money to quit my jobs, I moved.

I spent several years travelling from state to state, making new friends, taking odd jobs, and drawing whenever I could. I climbed a dam in New Braunfels, Texas. I taught prekindergarten in Portland, Oregon. I read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay on a train to Vancouver. My brother moved in with me when he completed his masters degree in animation. We spent that summer drawing, playing tennis, watching tv, and eating magnificent dinners.

I currently live in Los Angeles with my amazing wife, Christine. I teach afterschool drawing classes in schools all around the city. And, obviously, I draw whenever I can.

I thank you for reading all this! You stink!

Rama Hughes’ Website

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