I happened to stumble across this incredible article about Pixar lead animator, Sanjay Patel. The article written by Shawn Saleme of Visual News (UPDATED – link removed as the website is no longer active) is filled with Sanjay’s backstory and how he expresses himself creatively.
I hope you enjoy “Don’t Worry, Ghee Happy: Hindu Stories in Pixar Form” as much as I did.
Hinduism is a fascinating religion that is full of rich stories, many of which have been depicted visually for hundreds of years throughout India. A large number of the Hindu population display pictures of these deities in their homes, such as Ganesh, Vishnu, Shiva, and Hanuman. Sanjay Patel grew up in a home like this. A lead animator at Pixar Animation Studios, he decided to take these well-known images and display them in a very different form using the most modern and best tools available. The result? Several successful book publications, good press, and opportunities to display his art in respected art museums.
Sanjay grew up in San Bernadino, California, the son of motel owners. Throughout his childhood, he would work as the front desk receptionist because, at the time, his English was simply better than his parents. While working the sometimes boring job, Sanjay liked to entertain himself by watching good doses of Looney Tunes and other cartoons that were on television.
Naturally, while gaining a good amount of animated imagery in his head, he found joy in expressing his creativity through drawing and doodling. It was a solid beginning on his artistic journey, which later saw him being accepted to attend the well-respected Cal Arts animation school. He clearly displayed exceptional talent: it was there during his final year that he landed a job working at Pixar Studios.
The highly creative Pixar culture uniquely encourages its employees to explore their own artistic projects. One project that intrigued Sanjay was to dig into his Indian/Hindu roots and show the world some of the vibrant stories through his animation style. His first work, The Little Book of Hindu Deities, was released in 2006, Ramayana-Divine Loophole in 2010, and most recently The Big Book of Hindu Deities was released late last year. All have received excellent reviews. Sanjay says working on these personal projects has helped him realize his dreams. He identifies his work as an expression of his true voice and is confident he will continue to do this till the day he dies.
To learn more about Sanjay’s works, visit his website at GheeHappy, or see his latest exhibit in San Francisco: Deities, Demons, and Dudes with ‘Staches: Indian Avatars by Sanjay Patel (running November 11, 2011 – April 22, 2012).
A big thank you to Shawne Saleme of Visual News (UPDATED: Link removed as the site is no longer active) for allowing us to post this article.