I’m not very interesting,” says a modest Ray Di Carlo, CEO and executive producer of Bent Image Labs, an animation and visual effects studio.

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downtimeray2 500pxRay Di Carlo
CEO/Executive Producer
Bent Image Labs

I’m not very interesting,” says a modest Ray Di Carlo, CEO and executive producer of Bent Image Labs, an animation and visual effects studio. At work, Di Carlo creates commercials for big-name clients like MTV and Coca-Cola, and oversees all the animation for IFC’s Portlandia. Outside the office, he likes to catch up with “what the kids are doing”: augmented reality video games. “I’ve gotten pretty darn good at Halo,” says the immodest 54-year-old. Di Carlo lives in Portland with his wife, Jean Atwater. The couple has a 20-year-old daughter, Asa, and an 18-year-old son, Jonathan.

downtimedowntime-ills-1014-1 250pxRight brain 
“I was a double major in art and marine botany, and at one point I made the conscious decision that I’d prefer to be a poor artist than a poor scientist. I never, ever expected I would make any money in the art field. [My partners and] I always said: ‘We’re not businessmen; we’re artists doing business.’ And I’ve always said if we fail because we’re not getting the business right, I can live with that. But if we fail because we’re not getting the art right  —  can’t live with it.”

downtimedowntime-ills-1014-2 250pxFull throttle
“I would say that I am a bit of a zealot, meaning I can fit in with any situation, and I’m sort of naively optimistic, which I love because it means you can actually do stuff. The worst compliment I ever received was about 15 years ago: The most competitive person I’ve ever met looked at me and said, ‘You’re the most competitive person I’ve ever met.’ And I thought, ‘Uh-oh  —  coming from that person, that might not be so good.’”

downtimedowntime-ills-1014-3 250pxTravel bug
“For some reason, when you go to other countries, it gives you a different perspective on your little ecosystem that you’re in every day. Just seeing other cultures and understanding there are other ways and other things out there helps free up your brain to get out of any rut you might be in. I like meeting people, I like seeing new things; but the biggest thing for me about travel is how it shapes your perspective of yourself and the world around you.”

downtimedowntime-ills-1014-4 250pxHigh jump
“I paint and draw and all that stuff, but hobby-wise, I spend a lot of my free time coaching baseball teams and basketball teams and soccer teams. And then I also, for the last three years, have coached the Cleveland High pole vaulters. When I had both my kids in soccer, I would leave early [from work], coach my son’s team, have a half hour off and then coach my daughter’s team.”

downtimedowntime-ills-1014-5 250pxStarry eyes 
“Five years from now, I would like to see this company having a little more intellectual property in the marketplace, and able to facilitate some of the creative people we have here to do more of their own work, and to see the place running with less influence from me. Me personally, if I’m not doing this anymore, I’ll be an inventor or I’ll go into astronomy. They’ve found out more [about astronomy] in the last five years than they ever knew, so I’m only five years behind!”