Artist and Animator Sanjay Patel

What do you have to do to become a part of one the most highly regarded creative teams in the world? According to thirty-two year-old Artist and Animator Sanjay Patel, you should “get a specific education that youÂ’re passionate about, find a mentor, and get prepared to fail at least three times.” Perhaps then, at your fingertips will be the possibility of working at Pixar Animation studios, the Academy Award winning computer animation studio which has revolutionized creative talents to a whole new level. At Pixar, Sanjay is responsible for bringing 3D models to life in the “same way an actor brings life to character within a script”. In addition to spending a full 10 hours on Pixar work, Sanjay manages to cram in time to pen his own artistic vision. Sanjay put a spin on the “deep and serious tone” of Hindu mythology by starting Ghee Happy – his own publising company and brand that specializes in children’s books that make these stories accessible to a younger audience. Having received a strong and widely-acclaimed response to his book, Sanjay has his eyes set on his next creative endeavor. Learn about the other hats that Sanjay wears by reading the Young and Professional Profile.

About your projects

I’m an animator for Pixar Animation Studios. With my spare time I created a web site to showcase my interest in design and Hindu mythology called Ghee Happy.

What are your responsibilities?

For Pixar, I’m responsible for bringing 3D models to life in the same way an actor brings life to a character within a script. For Ghee Happy, I’m responsible for everything, building a website, creating a brand, deciding on a message, creating content, and promoting it.

Most notable milestones

Finding artistic success with my personal art. Working at Pixar, you collaborate with hundreds of other amazing artists, and so your personal art never has an opportunity to succeed or fail. So it was quite an accomplishment for me to find the time to create my own book and self-publish it, then for it to be popular enough that the print run sells out within a month. This achievement was topped when Penguin books wanted to acquire it for traditional publishing. Its one thing to make people happy with the combined efforts of Pixar’s artist, its another thing to make people happy standing on your own two feet.

What’s the niche?

Everyone is unique. I just happen to be trained as an animator and a designer. So when it came time to express a vision that I thought was unique, out came Ghee Happy. The brand is unique in that Hindu mythology has never been crafted to appeal to a sense of fun and charm. The mythology is very deep and serious, and for most people, myself included, these obstacles have got in the way of some very worthwhile stories.

What’s in store for the future?

Well, Pixar takes up nearly ten hours of my day, which leaves me with about three hours to draw, doodle and design. Actually, my wife Manisha and I are thinking of starting a family so who knows how much free time I’ll have left. I’m currently really motivated to do one epic children’s book. I plan on it being my best work and sort of a style bible for everything I might do in the future. I’m planning on taking a year off from Pixar, to create this book, so I have high hopes for it.

Unexpected learnings along the way

Well a friend at work turned me on to the Rich Dad, Poor Dad books, and it changed my life. It is so weird to say that, since I’ve always been an artist, and being Desi, business and money are so ingrained in our culture. I think I really ran away from joining the family business and buying and running a motel. But then along came Rich Dad and within a year my wife and I sold our condo and bought an eight unit apartment building here in Oakland. The real reason we bought the business was so I could draw and paint without the pressure to compromise my vision. It was a business move to fulfill artistic ambitions.

Who would you like to be contacted by?

I love meeting other artists and designers that are as clueless and easygoing as I am. It’s also really nice to hear from those who enjoy Ghee Happy and take the time to share how much their kids love it, or how they wished they had something like my book when they were growing up.