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Mario Pochat

We teach innovative skills that lead to creative careers and result in personal and professional fulfillment. We developed a fantastic school with strong educational programs that welcome you, work for you, and care for you.

Vancouver Animation School (VANAS) is a leading educational institution devoted to educating aspiring artists in the diverse disciplines that form the Animation, Visual Effects, and Video Game industries. We empower the artists to empower their art.

Tell us about yourself?

Mario Pochat is the CEO of VANAS, the first online school in Canada to train artists in digital entertainment since 2009. Driven by innovation, Mario leads VANAS to fulfill the talent demand for digital content in Animation, Visual Effects, and Video Games. When not at VANAS, Mario continues to learn at his alma mater Harvard University and explores our wonderful planet with his family.

As a kid, Mario satisfied his vivid imagination through drawing, painting, and other art forms. Yet, he quickly faced a shortage of art materials because brushes, oil paints, and canvases were too expensive. So more than once, he borrowed art supplies from his elementary school and satisfied his curiosity through visual art forms. But one day, a phone call halted his creative ventures; the school principal informed Mario’s mom of his borrowing activities and explained how the art class ran out of art supplies inventory. So he literally went back to the drawing board using simple, inexpensive, black and white pencil and paper.

Later on, as a teenager, Mario’s oldest sister received a birthday gift, a giant box, and of course, Mario was enthusiastic to see the contents, but his mom asked him to bring his excitement out of the room. Still, Mario snuck in and recognized a machine with a coloured apple symbol on it, an Apple Computer. In the following days, Mario learned how to use the mouse, discovered electronic painting, and, certainly, video games. But his sister was cranky because her computer was for work, not for silly jagged monochromatic drawings, and she wanted Mario out of her room. But, as the youngest sibling, Mario had a compelling way of buying time, “Please, five more minutes, [sad face] best sister?” A petition his sister couldn’t deny and extended access to his pixelated world.

During his adolescence, Mario learned from computer manuals hoping to one day enroll in professional computer graphics courses. But, after inquiring at five local universities, they only offered computer accounting courses. Yuck! So, he continued learning from manuals, books, and special interest groups in digital arts. Finally, at 15, he was given his first computer, a Commodore Amiga Computer. For the next two years, with plenty of technical experiments, duck-taped video cables, and beginner’s luck, he completed his first computer animation portfolio. He transferred it to a clunky VHS tape and showed it around at the most prominent computer graphics tradeshow in Mexico City. To his surprise, he was hired at one of Canada’s top computer graphics software companies.

In a series of fortunate events, Mario helped build one of the top three animation studios in Mexico City. He became part of the visual effects team for Hollywood blockbuster movies and video games. Then, he created VANAS, the first cloud school in Canada for Digital Arts. Today, Mario helps high schools, colleges, and university art students to enter the Animation, Visual Effects, and Video Game industries.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Pursue your passion: I’ve always had a passion for art, and I believe that pursuing your passions is incredibly important. Even if you don’t have access to formal education in your field, there are always ways to learn and grow. Don’t let anyone tell you that your dreams are impossible – with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.

Be resourceful: Throughout my career, I’ve had to be incredibly resourceful. When I was a kid, I borrowed art supplies from my school because I couldn’t afford them myself. And when I wanted to learn computer graphics, I had to rely on manuals and special interest groups because no universities in my area offered courses in that field. Being resourceful can help you overcome obstacles and find innovative solutions to problems.

Persevere through setbacks: I’ve faced my fair share of setbacks in my creative ventures, but I never let them stop me from pursuing my dreams. When the school principal informed my mom about my borrowing activities, I had to find a new way to create. And when my sister didn’t want me using her computer for digital art, I had to find a way to convince her to let me keep creating. Don’t let setbacks discourage you – keep pushing forward.

Embrace technology: Technology has been a huge part of my career, and I believe that it can be a powerful tool for artists. When I first discovered electronic painting and computer graphics on my sister’s Apple computer, I was hooked. And when I got my own Commodore Amiga computer, I was able to create my first computer animation portfolio. Don’t be afraid to embrace new technologies and find innovative ways to express yourself.

Give back to the community: I created VANAS to help students enter the Animation, Visual Effects, and Video Game industries, and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. Giving back to the community can be incredibly fulfilling, and it’s important to use your knowledge and experience to help the next generation of artists. Whether it’s mentoring a young artist or volunteering at a local school, find ways to give back and make a positive impact on others.

What problem does your business solve?

Top three problems that VANAS solves:

  1. The lack of Digital Entertainment skills training:
    The Digital Entertainment industry is rapidly growing, and the demand for skilled professionals in Animation, Visual Effects, and Video Games is increasing every year. However, traditional educational institutions often struggle to keep up with the latest trends and technologies in the field, leaving many students without the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. This is where VANAS comes in. By providing online training in Digital Entertainment skills, we help students develop the skills they need to succeed in the industry, regardless of where they live or their previous educational background.
  2. We reduce the employability gap between studios and creators:
    The Digital Entertainment industry is highly competitive, and studios often have very specific requirements when it comes to hiring new talent. However, many creators struggle to meet these requirements, either because they lack the necessary skills or because they are unable to relocate to a studio’s location. This leads to an employability gap, where studios struggle to find the right talent and creators struggle to find work. VANAS helps bridge this gap by providing training in the specific skills that studios are looking for, making it easier for creators to find work and for studios to find the right talent.
  3. We help studios fill the demand for digital entertainment content:
    The demand for digital entertainment content is growing every year, and studios often struggle to keep up with this demand. This can lead to long lead times, missed deadlines, and unhappy clients. VANAS helps studios fill this demand by training a new generation of skilled creators who can help meet the industry’s growing needs. By providing online training in Animation, Visual Effects, and Video Games, we help ensure that there is a steady supply of talented professionals ready to meet the demands of the industry.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

The inspiration behind VANAS, the first online school in Canada for digital entertainment, comes from the founder Mario Pochat’s own experience as an artist and his passion for digital art and computer graphics. Mario was fascinated with art from a young age and taught himself how to use computers and digital tools to create art and animations. However, he found that traditional educational institutions did not offer the type of training he needed to pursue his dream of working in the digital entertainment industry.

Mario saw an opportunity to bridge this gap by creating an online school that could provide training in the latest tools and technologies used in the industry, regardless of the student’s location. He also recognized that the demand for skilled professionals in Animation, Visual Effects, and Video Games was increasing and that many talented artists were not able to find work because they lacked the specific skills required by studios. By offering online courses that focused on these specific skills, Mario believed he could help connect talented creators with studios that needed their skills.

Thus, the inspiration behind VANAS was born – a school that would provide accessible, flexible, and industry-relevant education to anyone with a passion for digital art and a desire to build a career in the entertainment industry. Today, VANAS continues to be driven by innovation and a commitment to helping students develop the skills they need to succeed in this exciting and dynamic field.

What is your magic sauce?

My “magic sauce” lies in a combination of creativity, innovation, and a passion for digital art and education. I am a self-taught artist who has spent his entire career pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the digital entertainment industry. I have a deep understanding of the latest tools and technologies used in the industry, and I am constantly exploring new ways to incorporate them into my work and teaching.

My passion for education is evident in the creation of VANAS, the first online school in Canada for digital entertainment. I saw a need for accessible, flexible, and industry-relevant education for aspiring artists, and I worked tirelessly to build a school that could meet those needs. My dedication to innovation and creativity has also led me to explore new and exciting ways to deliver educational content, such as through gamification and interactive experiences.

Another key element is the ability to connect with people and build strong relationships. I am committed to helping students succeed and have a knack for identifying their unique talents and strengths. I am also a natural leader who inspires teams to achieve their best and encourages them to explore new ideas and approaches.

Overall, my “magic sauce” is a combination of creative vision, passion for education, dedication to innovation, and ability to connect with people. These qualities have made me a leader in the digital entertainment industry and a driving force behind VANAS’s success.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

Based on my track record of innovation and dedication to the digital entertainment industry, I will continue to expand and improve VANAS, the online school I founded, to better serve the needs of aspiring digital artists.

I also explore new and innovative ways to incorporate emerging technologies and techniques into digital art education. I will also continue to collaborate with industry professionals and studios to provide real-world experience and employment opportunities for VANAS graduates.

Additionally, given my passion for education and commitment to giving back to the community, I am involved in other initiatives and projects that aim to promote digital literacy and access to education in underserved communities.

Overall, my vision, creativity, and dedication to the digital entertainment industry will continue to be a driving force for innovation and education in the years to come.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

One potential challenge is the rapidly evolving nature of the digital entertainment industry, which requires constant adaptation to new technologies, techniques, and industry trends. Keeping up with these changes and ensuring that VANAS’s curriculum remains relevant and up-to-date may be a significant challenge for my team and me.

How can people get involved?

Enroll in VANAS courses: VANAS offers a range of courses and programs in digital entertainment, including animation, visual effects, and video game design. By enrolling in these courses, individuals can gain valuable skills and knowledge to pursue careers in these industries.

Spread the word: If you know someone who is interested in digital entertainment or pursuing a career in this field, you can share information about VANAS with them. This can help to raise awareness about the school and the opportunities it provides.

Collaborate with VANAS: VANAS works with industry partners and collaborators to provide students with real-world experience and connect them with job opportunities. If you are an industry professional or organization interested in collaborating with VANAS, you can reach out to the school to explore potential partnership opportunities.

Support VANAS: As an educational institution, VANAS relies on the support of sponsors to continue providing high-quality education to students. If you are interested in supporting VANAS, you can donate to the school or explore sponsorship opportunities.

Connect with Mario: Mario Pochat is an active member of the digital entertainment community and is passionate about supporting emerging talent. If you are interested in connecting with Mario, you can reach out to him on LinkedIn or through VANAS’s website.