A native San Franciscan, artist Paul Swendsen studied fine arts and photography as well as science. He began his cinema carrier at Colossal Pictures after directors saw his hyper-realist paintings.  He worked closely with Francis Ford Coppola to create the 1930’s style murals for the film Tucker  and later became a Matte artist at Lucas Film’s Industrial Light and Magic working on such films as Willow (Ron Howard).
Between films at ILM he painted book covers and so began his friendship with Arthur C. Clarke (2001 A Space Odyssey, Rendezvous With Rama…). After meeting Clarke in Sri Lanka he continued traveling around the world eventually illustrating all of Clarke’s works. 
The first American in 50 years to work at the Babelsberg Studio (DEFA) in former East Germany teaching visual effects., he is a director, visual effects supervisor, and matte artist, combining traditional film knowledge with cutting edge visual effects techniques. 
In France he has worked with directors including Phillipe De Broca, Mathieu Kassovivitz, Jacko Van Dormael, and Jean Delannoy.
After 10 years in Europe he went back to the theater directing The Day Tim Stood Still. 
As an expert in image restoration, he has scanned and digitally restored thousands of precious photographs from the French National Archives and private collections. 
He lectures at major universities in world wide on photo restoration and visual effects.
He continues to paint and sculpt, his primary passions.