When I came to Vancouver in 2014, I noticed something different about Canadians. They loved Pineapple Pizza, or how they like call it here for some reason, “Hawaiian Pizza,” which is pretty much the dough with ham and pineapple. It sounded terrible to me.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a purist by any means. I’m Brazilian, and as a real Brazilian, sometimes we don’t have boundaries when it comes to pizza flavors (google search “Pizza Brasileira,” and you’ll understand).
I hated the idea so much that I decided to dress up as a Hawaiian pizza for Halloween for, you know, scare people. I bought a pizza costume on Amazon, a Hawaiian costume with a lay and everything and I also bought a real pineapple.
As you can see in this photo that I took with my Italian friend, I looked quite scary.
The years went by, and I kept telling everyone that I couldn’t understand why people loved it so much and one day a friend of mine asked me: “Have you ever tried Hawaiian Pizza?”, and I immediately replied: “Hell no!”, then he asked me an obvious question which I had never really thought about before that day: “How can you hate something so much if you haven’t even tried it?”
He was right. Even though it was some joke for most of the time, I just hated the idea of people putting pineapple on pizza, but I had never also given it a try to see if I liked it or not.
After that day I decided to change that. I called my favorite pizza delivery and asked if they could send me a pineapple pizza. I use to order so much from that place, and the guy knew my usual order, and he was terrified when he heard my request.
The delivery guy came in a few minutes later with my order, and he too had a terrified look on his face: “Are you sure?”, he said, “Yes, I guess.”, I replied. I took the pineapple pizza inside, closed the curtains so my neighbors would not judge me and finally opened the box. To my surprise, the pizza looked great, and the smell was amazing, but the test wasn’t over yet, I had to eat it.
After much suspense, I finally had my first bite and: It was one of the worst things I ever had to try in my life.
I know what you’re thinking right now, and yes, I did eat the whole thing, to make sure I was right from the beginning, and then I wouldn’t have to eat it again.
Finding what you don’t like can be more important than what you love
The reason why I spend the first part of this article talking about food is that sometimes it might be useful to find all the pineapple pizzas in our path and put them aside, so we can focus on the things that matter to us. But to do that, we must try it first.
Sometimes we have preconceptions about things, and it can hurt our career goals. Imagine if I had loved (Thor forbid me) Hawaiian pizza? I would have been missing out for many years! So it was important that I tried it out and put it aside so I can focus on the flavors that I enjoy.
The inverse can also happen. To give you an example, when I was at school, during my first term we had to learn all the specialties in visual effects so we could choose our favorite in the next term. When I came from Brazil, I thought that I was going to love animation since I had read “The Animation Survival Kit” and I worked as a motion graphics artist for a long time previously.
After my first classes learning more about animation and working on it, I realized that I hated it with all my might. I’m not saying that the things I learned weren’t important to me as an artist, I’m saying that after I found that it didn’t interest me at all, I could put animation aside and then focus on other subjects that might be more interesting to me.
After going through many different subjects and doing a lot of experimentation, I could narrow down the ones that I enjoyed and finally put all my effort on them.
Taste buds can change, but you have to try it first
When I was a kid, my mom used to cook mushrooms, and I hated them. I despised the texture (aha!) of it, and even though the taste was quite bland, I didn’t like it. I also hated any fish growing up, after a bad experience with a fishbone.
After I came to Canada, a good friend of mine, Bruno, told me that he had a special dish that I had to try: Salmon with mushrooms. Yep, two of the things I hated the most (besides Pineapple pizza).
I didn’t want to be a terrible friend, so I decided to give it a try and the result: I hated it. Just kidding, it was one of the best dishes I’ve tried, and the recipe was quite simple! So after that day, I began cooking fish with mushrooms at least once a week, and to this day I love them both.
The point I want to make with this story is that you don’t have to worry if you don’t like a particular career right now. Just be honest with yourself and how you feel and focus on the things you enjoy the most at the moment and maybe in the future you might want to try different things.
Don’t feel like you’re going to be stuck in one specialty for the rest of your life. If you are a texture artist and want to become a matte painter, do your research, put some time on learning matte painting skills and go for it.
At the moment I’m not a big fan of animation, but maybe someday I’ll change my mind and decide to follow that path. Who knows?
What if I like all types of food?
Some of you might be asking: “So what if I want to become a generalist? I like to do everything!”. The first I want you to consider is: do your research on the type of generalist you want to be first. There are many kinds, depending on the company that you want to work. I started my career as a Junior Generalist at Scanline VFX, and there I would take care of assets tasks: modeling, texturing, lookdev, that’s it.
I have friends that work at different studios where they have to deal with sequences and also deal with lighting, FX and maybe compositing.
So, find different types of generalists and ask them which kind of skills you need to become one. But I would always suggest that you pick one specialty to be your best one.
Even though I can model, texture, lookdev, lighting and even a bit of compositing, I decided that texturing would be the specialty that I would more effort and development. I still try to be well rounded with other tasks, but I don’t spend as much time on them.
My favorite pizza flavor
I know that you are going to judge me now, but my current favorite pizza flavor is Chicken Bacon Alfredo. It sounds wrong, especially coming from a guy that just had a rant about pineapple pizza. But that’s how life is: we are weird sometimes, and we have funny tastes.
Texturing is my Chicken Bacon Alfredo. The moment I found out that I loved textures was during my first 3D project at Think Tank Training Centre, Wasp. We only had a few weeks to finish a still image, and we had to through the whole process of modeling, UVs, texturing, lookdev and compositing.
I remember that, even though I learned a lot, I hated the modeling part and I wouldn’t like to become a modeler; but when I began the texturing process, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
I had found my passion.
3 tips to find a career that you love
1 - Research - If you are a student and don’t know much about many of the specialties in the VFX industry, spend some time using google and see if any particular path interests you. Write down the ones that seem more interesting than others and create a list from more interesting to least. After finishing the list, search for student reels of each career path that you wrote. This way you’ll be able to see what would be the output that you need to produce to start in that path. The Rookies is a great place to find student reels. Just check their website and take a look at the students on each path.
Also, communication is vital. Send a couple of questions on Linkedin, email or Facebook to those who work in the industry in a path that interests you and ask what excites them in their career. Don’t ask too many questions, be objective and concise.
2 - Experimentation - The Pineapple pizza theory is all about trying things out, even if you don’t think you’ll like it. If you are or have the opportunity to go to a VFX school, you’ll probably have the chance to try all different paths, or at least see your colleagues working on it. But if you don’t, you can still do it on your own, you need discipline and focus on learning as much as you can. And luckily we live in an era where we can connect easily with other artists, using many of the art platforms out there like Artstation and Polycount.
If you want to find your path, being at a school or not, I suggest that you start small and straightforward.
Choose a project so little that you can finish in a week or two, and make sure to take it through all the path that you want to test if you like it or not. I know that you might be thinking that my school project wasn’t that small after all, but remember that I had to work 10+ hours a day relentlessly in to deliver in time. Find something that you can fit in your schedule and create a deadline for it. If the project is too large, you’ll probably quit after a few days.
3 - Endurance - You will know that you found something that you love when you work on something and you can’t stop thinking about it. When I was working on my school project, I remember going home daydreaming about the process, walking on the streets and taking photos to use later as a reference. If you are working on your quick project and you notice this feeling about a particular part of the process, you probably found your passion. But remember, learning new skills isn’t an easy task and isn’t always fun. If you want to be good and successful at what you do, be prepared to endure countless hours of learning and researching.
The pineapple pizza theory is a cheerful way that I found to breakdown the process of choosing a career in VFX. I’ve been VFX student and know how hard and stressful this moment can be. It all comes to having the discipline to try new things and avoid preconceptions.
So, tell me in the comment section below, what is your favorite pizza? Have you found your passion and what is the specialty that you consider to be your pineapple pizza?