Many years ago, when I first decided to venture into freelance retouching, it was all very uncertain. I had no idea how to proceed or where to start. With limited connections within the industry I felt like I needed advice from a seasoned pro. That's when I remembered reading about Pratik online. I loved the caliber of his work and thought I would reach out to him with a few questions.
After compiling and sending an email, I shut down my browser and thought nothing further of it. People nowadays are often too busy to bother with even the shortest of replies, especially if there is nothing in it for them. I checked my email a short while later and noticed that he had sent me a lengthy response, addressing all of my questions. I was stunned.
I still have that initial email from Pratik, and it was this that motivated me into doing what I'm doing today. It seems only fitting then that I feature him as the first guest in my new interview series.
Here then are 20 questions with legendary retoucher and all round nice guy, Pratik Naik.
THE INDUSTRY STUFF
1) Tell us what you do / what you are best known for and where you’re from.
Typically I am mostly known for my skin work when it comes to retouching. I do a lot of commercial and editorial work for beauty and fashion magazines and companies. I am from Houston, Texas.
2) What made you choose this and how did you get into your current profession?
I chose this industry because I honestly really enjoyed Photoshop. I feel like whenever I am working on a photo and perfecting it, it kind of gives me the same sensation as if I were popping bubble wrap. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it is really fun for me to edit photos and with that interesting passion, I continued to stay in this industry.
3) If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing as an alternative career instead?
I would probably be doing business or marketing as I have a background in that and that was something I was also passionate about doing if it wasn't for art.
4) What do you consider to be your single most memorable work experience so far?
I have a few of them, but for me, the biggest one was seeing my work on a hot air balloon. I remember working for a company called Gossard who does lingerie, and once the images were done and the campaign released, I saw a photo of them blowing up an image that I retouched, literally on a hot air balloon.
5) Which websites / online platforms do you use as part of your daily routine?
Every day I'm pretty much active on Facebook and Instagram for the most part, a little less on Twitter because I don't get as much feedback from there.
6) Where do you draw inspiration from?
To be honest, inspiration comes not just from work but also from people's personalities. It's almost like whenever I see someone working really hard, it drives me to continue forward because when you realise that what you're doing is being shared creatively by other people in terms of their effort, it really inspires you to continue exploring what you have in mind.
7) Based on what you know now, what advice would you give to yourself when you were starting out?
I would say just wait a lot longer than you think it's going to take because you have no idea how long it takes to make it in this industry. Stick it out. It's going to take more than a year, so be patient.
8) Are there any specific people you’d like to work with or projects you’d like to work on in the near future?
The biggest project coming up is expanding in this industry. I realise that retouching alone is very fulfilling but I think that I've maxed a lot of what I want to do. It's just about what brings me the most passion. What is the biggest reward for my investment in time. In the future I would like to expand into influencing more brands for products that are more applicable to photographers and retouchers. Those who are missing out on specific things that companies aren't coming out with and filling that gap between professionals and people who are in sales. The second thing is maybe expanding to other hobbies and connecting them. Whether it's writing or health, and just going forward from there.
9) Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of?
I would probably say being able to support myself with something I love doing. Because no matter what else you do or whatever your work is in, at the end of the day you need to make sure that you are at peace mentally.
10) How do you define success and can you give an example of someone you consider highly successful, famous or not.
The person that I consider highly successful would be someone that you think of when you think of photography. And I mean that because the first person that typically comes to mind is someone that you might have recent interactions with or be influenced by. That's someone who is successful. Someone who can promote other people to do better without them even knowing you.
THE PERSONAL STUFF
11) How would your friends describe you?
I would say as someone who probably doesn't sleep, even though that's not very true. I do sleep a lot. Except when I have deadlines. So probably also as someone who is hard working and consistently thinking about their job.
12) Can you recall what your best day during the last year was and what made it so great?
It would probably be memories of myself in other cities. I do a lot of workshops abroad but whenever I'm in another city is when I have time to reflect on how far, and how much work I've done to get to that specific point. So it's definitely an interesting experience.
13) If you could trade lives with one person for an entire day who would it be and why?
I actually wouldn't trade lives with anybody. And the reason for that is because the moment you did, I think the reality would not be as beautiful as the romantic thought of what their life is actually like. So perception in this case, is probably something that I would cherish over the reality of being that person.
14) What is your real life super power?
Being able to act impromptu. And I say this because sometimes we are faced with people's reactions to things that make us want to respond in a terrible way. And being able to not even flinch emotionally but instead, respond in a very poised manner, is probably something that I have spent a lot of time trying to do without adjusting my emotions so that I can mentally be very diplomatic.
15) If you could only keep five of your current possessions, what would they be?
I thought of my Wacom tablet first but that's not my answer. Number one would be my passport. Number two would be my birth certificate. Number three would be my computer. Number four, and five I guess would be my hard drives that contain all my work because you can't replace that.
16) Which character from a TV show, movie or book have you always resonated with?
I think that the biggest influence for me when it comes to a movie I really enjoyed is The Matrix. There are a lot of analogies to my life that fall back to that movie. I used to watch a lot of TV but there was nothing really specific from there. I played a lot of games, like Final Fantasy VII which was a big thing for me. It always resonated with me so I would say that.
17) What would be your top destination that you would like to still travel to and explore?
I think right now Prague would be a good place as I keep hearing amazing things about it. The culture there is great and people have been telling me that it's an experience worth checking out. The next would be going to places in Eastern Europe just because I'm usually in Western Europe and it's a different experience in terms of architecture and landscape. It's very beautiful.
18) What is your favourite word?
My favourite word is probably fantastic because I accidentally said that quite a bit on Creative Live. Everyone remembers that and almost teases me for it. So that is my coined word.
19) What is your guilty pleasure?
Probably ice cream. I can't eat enough ice cream and it's good that I'm lazy with shopping because otherwise I would eat a ton of ice cream every single day.
20) Lastly, in relation to the name of my blog – what’s your favourite type of coffee (if any) and how much do you have per day?
Honestly my favourite coffee is not a latte or cappuccino. It's just water poured over freshly ground beans and extracted perfectly without being over extracted. I make my own coffee at home and I like to explore different methods in making it. Maybe with a different type of grind, different amounts of water and different heat. So just a really smooth, delicious cup of black coffee with maybe a little bit of milk.
You can check out more of Pratik's work and follow him here:
Website 1: Solstice Retouch
Website 2: Fine Art Actions