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Meet Kanthi Ananthagopal

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kanthi Ananthagopal.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Kanthi. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I come from Bangalore, India – known as the silicon valley of the East. My story is typical of many Indian households- I come from a family of engineers and it was very unusual to be something other than a doctor or an engineer but I was persistent from a young age that I wanted to pursue something artistic. I’m not kidding when I say this, I absolutely despised the sciences and my parents are witness to that!

Architecture appeared to be the right option because it was a brilliant mix for my creative and technical abilities. Architecture has provided me with a solid foundation for exploring design in more than one respect. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture in 2018 and worked professionally in India, but it didn’t take me long to figure out I wasn’t completely satisfied with my career. Having traversed through diverse aspects of architecture, I realized my passion lies in media and entertainment where one’s imagination can run wild and fantasies become reality. Those who know me know that I’ve binge-watched every TV show and I catch every movie that hits the theaters. I was intrigued by the concept of creating a world based entirely on a story where everyone is welcome to experience that. Any form of entertainment is an opportunity for people to imagine a life apart from theirs and the thought of contributing to building such an environment made me feel that this is what I was meant to be doing.

Soon after, I applied to the MFA program at California Institute at the Arts. I thought it was important for me to strengthen my technical base in the field and acquire familiarity with the entertainment industry globally. I moved across continents in 2019 and I am currently an MFA2 in the Design and Production program at California Institute of the Arts with a specialization in Art Direction, Production Design, Scenic Art and Visual Communication. A year into the program and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to be here. I am still learning the ropes but I am enjoying every step of this journey.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It is never easy to leave your entire life behind and relocate to a new country to start anew. Beyond being predominantly in a foreign city, it took me a while to adjust to the cultural nuances and meet the demands of a graduate level program as well. I was also initially filled with doubt as to whether I made the right decision in my profession to switch paths, but having supportive parents and developing my own circle of friends here helped me resolve all apprehensions. I have also been so lucky as to have brilliant mentors at CalArts who’ve made this transition quite smooth for me.

I was fortunate to be a part of many student films and theater shows during my first year that offered me the chance to collaborate alongside several talented people, it was terrifying yet thrilling to know how the industry operates. Learning on the job, you are saturated with so much information and knowledge but that has only taught me to be on my toes at all times. I might say the biggest obstacle I’ve encountered thus far was looking for a summer job in the midst of a pandemic. In the meantime, I am focusing on building and nurturing new skills and reaching out to people and creating networks. I believe that it is so important to invest in your dreams, nothing in this world comes easy and it is essential to grind and be the best version of yourself. Even though things are hard now, I’m positive that things will get better in the future and there is nothing more fulfilling than doing what you love!

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
My background in Architecture has really equipped me with a lot of skills that come in handy as an Art Director and Production Designer presently. The most valuable one being the ability to understand the client and design based on their disposition and requirements. This translates into my work as a designer when I am able to study and understand the characteristics of a character and plot in depth. It allows me to personalize the design and pay attention to details. Apart from which I also have the technical 2D drafting and 3D modeling skills that support the presentation of my creative vision. It is important for me to achieve a balance in design as and when appropriate between factual accuracy and artistic freedom.

I possess the versatility to work in a variety of specializations including Art Direction, Production Design and Visual Communication. I also have a keen interest in Environment Building and 3D modeling for Video Games, Virtual Reality and Themed Entertainment. I am capable of handling a project every step of the way – from conceptualizing to design and execution. Yet my biggest asset, I suppose, will be the global outlook and the cultural diversity I bring to the table. Coming from the second-largest film industry in the world, I would say media and entertainment has been a big part of my life growing up. As they say, choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life and that’s what this career is to me.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Being completely honest, I wouldn’t change anything about my journey. Every decision, every mistake, every opportunity has brought me to where I am today. It may sound cliche but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am a strong believer in the ideology that everything happens for a reason and that as bad as things might be it is all going to manifest into something you can only dream of.

It might seem absolutely ridiculous to most people that I would leave a stable career in Architecture to be a part of the most unpredictable industry but when you are passionate about something nothing else matters. It might have taken me a little longer than I’d like to figure this out but I am glad I did. Lucky for me, design is such a wide interconnected spectrum that it was relatively easy for me to make this jump.

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