Digital Artist

Nemanja Sekulic

How I Started To Pursue My Passion From The Very Beginning.

Full-Time creator
January 22, 2020

Who are you and what kind of content do you create?

My name is Nemanja Sekulic. I’m a professional photographer, graphic designer, and educator based in Belgrade, Serbia. I started my creative journey 20 years ago when I got my first Photoshop as a birthday gift for my 20th birthday.

Today I’m a full-time content creator, and I’m teaching people how to be better in Photoshop, especially in photo manipulation world.

I’m doing that through my YouTube channel, my website and workshops that I host from time to time.



Let's go down memory lane, tell us your backstory!

As I already mentioned, I started my creative journey 20 years ago when I got my first Photoshop as a birthday gift. At that time I was studying electrical engineering and telecommunications. In my spare time I started to play with some basic tools in Photoshop. The first thing that I have learned is the Magic Wand Tool and the Lasso Tool.

They are both meant for selecting the subject so you can later extract it from the background, and with just those two tools I opened a world for some basic digital composites. I took some magazines and a photo of my father, scanned it, transfer into digital format and using those two tools I created my first photo manipulation, having my father standing near a campfire with a riffle in his hand somewhere in the mountains.

Of course, that was far from perfect. It was similar to using scissors and cutting out all the elements and just gluing them on some cardboard. But for me, it was much more, for me it was an open door to the endless possibilities - so I decided to spend even more time with Photoshop.

Fast forward… after a while, I learned how to use even more tools, and some basic things about color theory.

(That is really important if you are a designer, photographer, etc.)

I didn't get any sort of education and was self-taught. It was the era where it was dial up internet, slow speed and no YouTube to learn from, although it was a long journey I enjoyed the process. Soon, I started to create a bit more complex photo manipulations., and I realized that I needed a camera, to be able to take my own photos because at that time I couldn't find everything that I wanted in magazines or online.

I started to save money to be able to buy my very first digital camera and it was the Canon A70. Small but really awesome camera. Fast forward again, I got everything that I need to take my own photos, except I didn’t know much about photography. Fortunately that part was much easier than learning Photoshop. I had friends who are photographers and read lots of great books on the topic of Photoshop and photography, so I mastered the basics pretty fast, and then I was finally able to put my imagination into life.

How do you brainstorm ideas for your content and your advice in getting the creative juice flowing.

This is the question that I get asked alot. I like to say that any project starts with an idea in our minds. So, to be able to make and create anything, we first need to imagine it. And the imagination is something that can be trained like everything else.

I like to advise my students to read books, because when you are reading, you are at the same time imagining things and in that way you are practicing your imagination and gaining some cool skills too. Also, books are a great source of some new and interesting ideas. Movies, TV series and everyday life are full of inspirations for new ideas for our projects.

I have a whole YouTube video on that topic so if you want to know more about it you can watch it here:

How to be CREATIVE and improve your IMAGINATION!

What are the tools and platform you use to help with your brand?

I use many tools and software to make my final product. The main tool is my camera. At this point in time, I’m using a Fuji X-T3 camera and I have several lenses for it. I mainly prefer wide-angle lenses for my style. Also, a drawing tablet is a must for me., I’m using a Wacom Intuos Pro and I’m more than happy with it.

And you already probably guessed, Photoshop is the main software that I’m using to combine everything into a final photo manipulation. I’m also using 3D tools like Cinema 4D, Zbrush and Marvelous Designer to model some objects that I either can’t find in real life, or it is much easier and cheaper to model it instead of going to a location and taking a photo of it.

For example, I need a photo of an Eiffel tower but in sunset time, I can either go to Paris, rent a helicopter and try to take a photo from the desired angle or just model it and use it in whatever angle or focal length I need. The 3D world is much bigger and more complicated than Photoshop, and I’m not an expert there, but I know enough to be able to do some basic things for my job.

For video editing, I use Adobe Premiere Pro, Audition and After Effects. Sometimes I’m using DaVinci Resolve. I learned all those software by myself with the help of some great YouTube tutorials.

You can find me almost everywhere. I’m uploading video tutorials to YouTube once per week and your occasional tech review videos.

Instagram is another important platform for me today, you can find me there

Instagram.com/ns_photography

My website is a place where you can find all my tutorials, but also where you can purchase my Photoshop brushes, textures, lens flares, merchandise, etc.

nemanjasekulic.com

I’m also on Behance.net and a few more other platforms. But you can find all the places if you go to my website in the contact tab. Also one really important platform for me is Patreon. Patreon is a great place where you can support us creators with some monthly tips of your choice and get something in return too. Another tool that I like to use is just a regular notebook where I like to note down some ideas from time to time. Lately, I’m using Evernote more and more because I can access the app from anywhere.

What were your fears starting out? How did you handle it?

To be really honest, I didn’t have any fears when I started, because I didn’t know that this will be my full-time job. I was still a student at the time, so this was more of a hobby for me. Although I need to confess that I delayed the start of my YouTube channel for more than 2 years, I didn’t think that I’m good enough in English as it's not my mother language and I wasn’t so confident in front of a camera.

The thing is I needed to start from somewhere, so one day I just decided to start, and I made my first video.

It was crap. I have never uploaded before, and I have almost given up the idea to be a “YouTuber”. But... what changed it was a new commission from a client to do a set of photo manipulation video tutorials for their platform. It was basically a screen recording with narration with no need for a camera. and I accepted. The client was satisfied with the result and from there, it gave me a boost in confidence which led me to do my first YouTube tutorial, without a camera.

Shortly, I did my second video with myself in front of the camera and it was a very strange feeling for me. I was scared and confused for sure. You can see that if you go and watch my first few videos on YouTube, it was on the back of my mind such as am I in focus? How was my English? Am I doing a good job in Photoshop as an instructor?

"The only way to master everything is to repeat the process over and over."

And eventually, I got comfortable in front of the camera. I realized that there is no perfect moment to start something. You just need to start it now.

How did you build your brand to where it is now, take us through your process.

It was a long journey when I started the only social network was MySpace then Facebook right after. so without these it was hard to get known by people.

Today it is much easier. You have help from social networks and other platforms for designers and photographers. YouTube was my wind in a back. I’m posting there on a regular basis, once per week (or even more) for 3.5 years now.

I started my YouTube journey in my room, I had my camera and some basic equipment such as lights, microphone, and my laptop. In the beginning, it was hard and the progress was really slow, It took me forever to get 1000 subscribers. It was a bit faster to get to 10k, and even faster to 100k.

The video that created a lot of traction was Frost Effect in Photoshop” . This video was shared and published by several big blogs, which was awesome! After a while, when I was able to live from my tutorials and clients that I got because they saw me on YouTube, I moved to a small but nice studio where I’m today.  

I got better equipment and I started to do lots of great collaborations with some cool brands. Keep in mind, being a content creator is not an easy task at least not for me. My tutorials are mostly about photo manipulation. And to prepare one video I needed a few days. The most time-consuming part is to find a proper photo for an idea that I have. It needed to be a free photo, so I can give my subscribers all the files so they are able to practice along with me. All the photos for my photo manipulation needs to be matched in angles, perspective and light.

Imagine this - I have a wonderful idea for a photo manipulation. And I need 5 photos for that and after an hour or two of searching for proper photos I can find only 3 out of 5. So I throw that idea into the trash. (Also few hours of my life)😊

Then I need to think of something else. And the procedure repeats until I manage to find all the necessary photos for the final product. Then I make a photo manipulation, to make sure that everything is ok. And then the recording part is finally coming. After that the editing part, I need to upload it to YouTube, add a title, keywords, thumbnail and publish it.

And hope that it will be viewed among the other fishes in that big ocean called YouTube.

Easy peasy.

For someone who wants to get into content creation, what is your advice?

Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Start yesterday. And don’t give up. Seriously! Lots of people don’t achieve their goals just because they give up too soon.

If you want something in your life, you need to fight for it. To be persistent and patient, nothing is achieved overnight. For something it takes years. But it’s possible!

When I look back on time, I wish I started much earlier. The first time when I wanted to start. Also, develop your own style. Don’t copy others. It is perfectly ok to find inspiration in other people's work and it is ok to copy it just for practice. But the best thing is to develop your own style that you will be recognizable from.

"Learn, always learn - don’t ever think that you know everything, that you are done with learning. That is a road to failure. Life is short and one lifetime is not enough to learn everything. So, keep learning!"

Doing it that way you will improve yourself, and be better every single day. Sometimes you can take some shortcuts by seeing other people's mistakes and not make the same mistakes they did. And last but not least, enjoy the ride - It is fun, it'll be hard, but it is mostly fun... trust me!

How did you finally commit to X platform rather than your regular day job?

I never had a regular job.😊 I started as a student studying electrical engineering, drop the faculty and started my creative journey as a freelancer. For me, it was a normal thing from the beginning. But when I turned 30 years young, I went to school again, to study graphic design just for my own satisfaction - to have some kind of a degree and that was fun too!

Before I started my YouTube journey, I was a stock photographer. I was selling my photo manipulations at stock websites like istockphoto.com. And it was awesome, but I moved on and haven't looked back since!

Tell us your best milestones in being a content creator.

My favorite one is when I was making a stock photo manipulation, I published a photo that I named “Information Flood”

I got a Nitro Boost 😊 So I decided to do several photos from the paperwork series and it was better than I have expected - that is such a great feeling!

I made this photo just for a YouTube tutorial, didn’t expect much, but… it became a viral photo on Instagram and that helped boost my page by alot.

From time to time there is a piece of art that can bring a big smile to your face. But that doesn’t happen every day. You need to work hard and be patient. And don’t chase it, it will come to you. If you start chasing it, it will be like you are chasing your own shadow and you will lose more important things from your sight.

Just give the best you can and enjoy the ride!

What are your marketing strategies to grow your brand?

My marketing is quite bad to be honest -I barely market my videos and I’m lazy for that. I like to spend more time in creating content than marketing it. Marketing is an important part of any business, the only thing that I do/did is to share my work on my other social platforms and on a few Facebook groups. My work got shared several times on many blogs and social platforms so I guess you can call that of marketing too. I’m pretty busy with my work for YouTube and clients that I don’t have time for marketing anyways. Content < Marketing.

How do you handle brand deals and sponsorships?

I love to work with brands and It has been a fun and good experience. I don’t reach out to them, maybe I should but fortunately, they reach out to me - I don’t accept all of them, I only accept brands that I personally like, or I think that their product is worth for my audience.

When doing brand deals you have to do such as work on your own content plus a brand deal, and you have a deadline for it, and you need to work hard, and to fulfill your obligation towards the brand as best as you can. It can be really stressful, but it is how it is - you just need to be responsible and do your job.

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