We had the good fortune of connecting with Ankita Panda and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ankita, how do you think about risk?
As a designer, animator, and recently an entrepreneur, innovation has been an integral part of my academic and professional career – and the best way to create and execute innovative ideas is to take risks. I believe design and business go hand in hand and I have always thought of starting a business to be a creative problem-solving process where the most contemporary solutions and opportunities can be found only through taking risks and trying something new.

Growing up in a family of scientists and engineers in India, pursuing a career in the arts was a risk in itself. I was constantly reminded by my grandparents and teachers that a ‘bright student like me’ shouldn’t have to compromise a lucrative and comfortable career in the sciences to pursue a ‘childish’ hobby. But with the support of my parents, I considered myself lucky to be able to learn and live as an artist and I was grateful to be allowed to spend the rest of my life doing something I love.

I started my career in animation working as an assistant animator at a design studio in Mumbai. I was only 5 months into my first job before deciding to move 8000 miles across the globe to a new and foreign city that I knew nothing about and where knew no one. Leaving my home in India to move to LA was one of the biggest risks I have taken to date and this risk has completely changed the course of my career – and my life.

Today I am a freelance animator and designer living in LA. I work as a motion designer at MediaMonks LA and have recently started a design store – BLANK__IT – which is aimed to create modern lifestyle products that are functional, beautiful, and sustainable. As part of developing my brand as an artist and entrepreneur, I take competitive risks daily: creating a portfolio of credible clients, competing for work within a similar talent pool, getting audiences to trust my brand with no prior recognition, adapting to new changes in technology and social media, taking financial risks such as investing in education and resources as well as in technology or operations that may or may not be profitable to the business in the long run, and investing in logistical means such as space, rent, legal material, etc. Business operations also require taking market risks that involve creating products or providing services, for which demand amongst consumers is difficult to predict. I have had to take many of these risks and, I have misjudged the consumer or client’s interest in service and inevitably dealt with the consequences after.

Taking risks does not always lead to profits and failed risks do not always result in losses, but research and planning can give me a sense of the kinds of risks I am willing to take in pursuit of growth for my brand and business in the long run. All the risks I have taken – positive or negative – have helped me learn and grow to become a more strategic thinker. I can evaluate opportunities better and adapt to what solutions would work well amongst varied audiences because of what I have learned. The increased competitive spirit that comes with risk-taking has enabled my sense of innovation, gotten me new opportunities, and pushed me to more deeply understand the value and risks of potential return. I feel proud to have a business to call my own and I do not regret any of the decisions I have made or risks I have taken.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am an animator and designer. I focus on motion design and editing for 2D and 3D media for a variety of platforms – such as commercials, social media, projection, live events, etc. I am fascinated by the sustained exploration and innovation in design that can be achieved by combining animation with mathematical progressions and sound. Experimenting with common elements across these fields such as geometry, symmetry, repeating patterns and looping cycles has become an integral part of my work. My strong passion for geometric art and pattern-making led to the launch of my online design store – BLANK__IT – a project that I am the most excited about!

I came to LA in 2017 for grad school at USC’s animation program and have been working, freelancing, and living in LA since. I started animating in 2014 when I was in India. I worked in Film, TV broadcast, and advertising in Mumbai, making short animated films on the side. Presently I work as an animator/motion designer at MediaMonks LA. I am also a freelancer. I recently worked on a docuseries for HBO Max called Heaven’s Gate. Prior to that, I have worked for multiple motion design and projection shows for the Getty Museum and Getty villa. I was also funded by the Fox fellowship to make a film – Pause, Play, Repeat – that has been screened at a number of festivals internationally.

What sets me apart from others is my versatility and quick learning abilities. I am able to adapt and work through a number of styles, can learn technical tools pretty quickly, and deliver for a variety of platforms. Since I like working on short-form animation projects, I am able to understand the production process for different workflows and can easily work and collaborate with a team. I also really believe that – time is money – and I aim to work effectively as well as efficiently. Growing up in an extremely competitive environment in India, the shift to LA has been pretty easy to adjust to!

The only major challenge I have faced in my academic and professional career – is moving so far away from home to be able to be creatively fulfilled. Sometimes its gets hard to not see family or visit home for a straight couple of years. That being said, I have always been lucky enough to be supported by family, friends, and colleagues throughout all my creative endeavors.

I’d like to be known as someone who would never compromise on quality – be it a freelance animation project or a BLANK__IT design product – I am always determined to deliver at 100% quality. All the decisions and risks I have taken so far have been towards ensuring optimum quality and efficiency in all my work. BLANK__IT, as a brand, focuses on elegant design and quality products that are functional, beautiful, and sustainable.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love the Eastside, so I’d start with exploring Silverlake / Los Feliz. A hike to Griffith Park, the Silverlake stairs, a run around the lake, the Vista Theatre, the Los Feliz 3. Good spots to eat would be – Alcove or Bacari or Figaro or my favorite Homestate. All these places have good food and drinks and can be visited for brunch during the day or for dinner at night. Regarding bars – I would definitely recommend the hidden gem Jay’s Bar – the vibe is great along with great drinks and small bites. I love the Red Lion tavern, on the East side of the lake, so that would be on my list too. For morning coffee – Dinosaur coffee and Muddy paws on sunset, Maru on Hillhurst, and Black elephant at Atwater.
For night coffee – Alcove has been my go-to spot, or the Guest House.

After a couple of days of exploring the east side, I’d be interested in showing them around Venice, the canals, and maybe some cute spots to brunch on the west side.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to dedicate this shoutout to my parents for always being supportive of all my career choices, and my alma mater – USC’s school of cinematic arts.

Website: https://www.ankitapanda.com/

Instagram: @ankitap1994 and @blank___it

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ankita-panda-421022143/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ankita.panda.161

Other: https://www.blankit.store/

Image Credits
Ankita Panda

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