YOUR KUNGFU • PAUL CANTOR (PART I)

Paul and I grew up in the same hometown but went to different high schools. Though we knew each other from church, it wasn't until college that we really became good friends. The stories of our monumental antics are countless, but what bonds us is the open-heartedness of our friendship. In short: he's the best.

Paul is an excruciatingly humble man, always the first to commend others before mentioning a thing about himself. He is perhaps one of the most talented, imaginative, and fun guys that folks will ever meet, but it's his simple love and honest appreciation for the gifts he has in his life that radiates this man's uncontainable light.

1. What's your name (and do you have any nicknames/how'd you get it)?

Paul….sometimes people call me by just my last name, Cantor.  It just naturally kind of happens when you’re in a workplace where multiple people have the same first name.  

2. Can you please explain what it is that you do? 

Compositor/ Animator/ 3D artist/ Graphic Designer.  As a freelancer, I’ve realized that being skilled in multiple disciplines makes me an attractive option for potential employers.  On any given job I may be called on to produce and execute in one and perhaps all of those fields.  As a compositor, I piece together the layers of 3D rendered elements with 2D elements to create a polished final picture or shot.  As an animator, my goal is to create interesting motion of 2D and/or 3D elements on screen.  As a 3D artist, I model, texture, and light three dimensional geometry.  And finally as a Graphic Designer, I am responsible for creating a visually interesting style that is usually paired with typography.

3. What would you say are the top skills from your background which developed over time that help you perform your current job well?

Growing up I played a lot of team sports, so the value of teamwork has had a big presence throughout my life.  It has played a large part of career because everything in my industry is created by a team of people.  Being a productive and efficient team player who clearly communicates has been a goal of mine with every new project I undertake.    

  4. When was the first time you realized this is what you wanted to do? 

The movie Jurassic Park sparked my interest in visual effects.  I was in the 5th grade when i first saw it and was amazed by how realistic and believable the dinosaurs appeared.  From that point on I became fascinated with digital art and animation.  That fascination led me to college where I studied video and animation.  After graduating, I fortunately got my career started as a broadcast designer at the National Geographic Channel. 

5. What would you say is your greatest challenge? Have you had any setbacks?

 As a freelance artist, I’ve found that my greatest challenge is getting work from prospective employers.  In order for that to happen, I have to have a very strong portfolio for their consideration.  That means having two essential things: a current reel and an accompanying website to present my portfolio.  Together as a package, those two elements are my resume which I send over to companies that I’d like to work for.  Getting them to just look at my work is a great challenge.  It sometimes relies on plain luck or possibly by a referral.  If they do look at my work and believe I have potential to work for them, then I get placed on their call list.  Once a project comes up that they think I’ll be good for,  I may get a call asking for my availability to work on the project.  If my schedule matches up with their project schedule then, and only then, do I officially have work.  So there are many factors that go into securing and keeping work.  It can be a very tiresome and humbling process.  Setbacks happen all the time.

6. Have you ever had any crazy experience that - at the time - felt impossible to resolve but ended up being a blessing in disguise?

 Moving to Seattle.  It wasn’t that there was anything to resolve, but it was more of a concern that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be a part of cool creative projects that I may have in New York.  The first blessing was being hired by Superfad.  The second blessing was the caliber of work they created.  From my time in Seattle and working with Superfad, I was able to be a part of some of the most visually interesting projects of my career.  Those projects boosted my portfolio and my technical experience in the industry.  Keeping to the skills that helped establish me as a professional, and learning some extra tricks along the way, really helped me succeed in Seattle.  In this case, I believe that luck played a huge part with my time in Seattle.  

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Think that was interesting, wait 'til you read the second part of the interview (where it gets REEEEEALLY good!). In the meantime, check out some of Paul's work at http://www.ipaulcantor.com and stay tuned for Part II!