Shagun Damadia – A Young Talent
Maybe you’ve heard about @shagun51, the teen Photoshop whiz who counts @ebenofficial and @alanwalkermusic among some of his more celebrity collabs. I discovered him when he began to comment regularly on @learn_photoshop’s posts and engage with the community. While I didn’t know much about him, I could see he had serious talent and motivation, especially for being so young. To find out more about him, his work, and his Instagram success, I asked him a few questions, which he agreed to answer for the benefit of the Learn-Photoshop community.
Firstly, thank you for agreeing to an interview, Shagun. It’s great that you were so willing to share more about yourself and what you do. To start, could you introduce yourself, and explain how and when you got into the Photoshop game?
Before I start, I want to give a big thank you to you, Martin and Learn-Photoshop, for giving me this opportunity.
Alright, let’s go. My name is Shagun Damadia, I’m 15 years old, and I’m from Rajasthan, India. Currently I’m a student in the 11th grade so I don’t work with Photoshop for living. I have to strike a balance between my studies and my Photoshop work. However I would love to do Photoshop as my full time job and I’d particularly love to teach others. So many people wonder how artists manage to create such amazing art so I’d like to show them how. I was like that too – spending a lot of time wondering how digital artists managed to create such beautiful photos using a computer program.
I started using Photoshop when I was 12, because I wanted to impress my friends by changing the backgrounds of photos. I’d say, “I travelled Paris and if you don’t believe me, look at my photos with Eiffel Tower!” After that I became interested in video editing and computer programming, but after six months I stopped enjoying those pursuits. Then while exploring on Instagram, I found some guys who were creating amazing art. I was intrigued so after watching a few YouTube tutorials, contacting big artists, and reading a few forums, I created my first piece of art. It got a good response which encouraged me to continue. Now working in Photoshop gives me a lot of satisfaction!
Which artists do you use as references and why?
There are many artists I admire, like Brandon Woelfel, Kellan Hendry, Sam Kolder, Mark Singerman, and many others.
When I saw one of Kellan Hendry’s edits, I was shocked because I had always felt that Photoshop work is easily detectable and looks fake, yet Kellan’s edit left me speechless; it didn’t seem like it could possibly have been created with Photoshop. Seeing that inspired me and I let go of the idea that Photoshop work always looks fake. The next day, I got online and started teaching myself how to maximise Photoshop. After four days, I was able to complete a piece of art and felt proud of myself.
Whenever I feel like I can’t Photoshop an image, I look at Kellan’s work. That inspires and encourages me to keep trying and creating.
How would you define your artistic style? Where do you draw inspiration from for your edits?
If I would define my style in a single word, it would be “realistic”. I love making art that looks real. I enjoy combining different photos and then trying to make them look as realistic and as natural as possible together. However it takes a lot of time since the different photos were all taken under different conditions, but I simply consider it a challenge. It feels so satisfying when people say that my images don’t look like they’ve been Photoshopped.
What would you consider to be your favourite Instagram moment?
Instagram has brought me many good moments. One of the best was when Kellan Hendry himself commented on my photos and messaged me to compliment my work. That was one of my biggest achievements. Another big moment was when I created an edit for Brandon Woelfel, and he liked and commented on it. I won’t ever forget those exciting moments. Another was when August Reinhardt mentioned me in his story saying that he really liked my edit and wants to see more from me.
Describe a typical day in your life. What do you normally do?
As I mentioned earlier, I’m a student in the 11th grade. I have to wake up at 6 am to go to school. I return home at 1 pm and have some free time until 4 pm when I go to classes for extra studying. I come home at 6 pm after which I’m free for a few hours. At 6:30 pm, I go out with my friends and after having some fun with them for an hour, I come home to work on Photoshop.
I don’t like my schedule because doesn’t allow me enough time for doing what I love. I have to spend my most of time on academics, but hopefully I’ll have more time for my art work once I graduate!
If you had only one advice to give to a beginner what would it be?
One piece of advice I’d give to anyone starting with Instagram would be to keep uploading.
I think you need to keep uploading even if you don’t have an audience yet, because engagement and all that other stuff comes later on; what matters first is having strong content. Don’t think that you’ll start uploading good content only once you have a large enough audience.
Always share your best work, no matter how many people are or are not following you. You have to be honest about your knowledge and passion. That’s how you’ll grow. You might have 60 posts and no engagement, but you don’t know if your 61st post will go viral. So always be creative and draw inspiration from others so that you never get stuck.
What are some websites you enjoy or find helpful for your creative endeavours?
I don’t visit that many websites. One that I love is Quora.com, because anything you ask gets answered very quickly and by really professional people.
Another website I go to is Behance.com, because I see a lot of amazing art there which isn’t available on Instagram. Behance shows what real art is. It’s usually just those two sites though!
Thanks again for your time, Shagun. Do you have a final message to inspire and motivate the Learn-Photoshop community? Impress us!
One thing I’d like to say is do your best, even if you aren’t a professional or your art looks bad. Just give your 100% every time. There will be pros who will make fun of you, but ask them what their first work was like. Was it really professional? Their answer might be yes, but in reality, it’s a no. No one can create professional work from day one, so don’t trouble yourself with what people might say.
One last thing I want to add is that you shouldn’t compare yourself to big artists. I made this mistake and it left me feeling very frustrated. It’s no use to compare yourself to them, because they are already big and you’re just starting. I hope that no one reading this makes this mistake. And lastly, always keep creating!
Thank you for your time and a special thanks to Martin for giving me the opportunity to be on this great website!