Meet Dragan: a 21 year old photographer that's probably worked with your favourite artist
Growing up what were your interests before photography? How have they changed once you discovered photography?
Hahah, I’ve told this story so many times. My name is Dragan Andic, I’m 21 years old and I’m a photographer from Toronto, Canada. I actually didn’t start off as a photographer, at 16 I actually moved over to Italy, I went to Italy to play professional soccer for the team in Genoa, Italy. I came back home after 5-6 months and I was playing for fun back home and I actually tore my ACL. That is actually the reason why I started photography because in the same summer that I tore my ACL, one of my friends from back home asked me if I wanted to go model for him because he was shooting a portfolio for photography! I said yeah, I am down. I didn’t really know too much about photography, I was seeing what he was doing and we were walking down Queen Street, shooting in the back alleyways. I wasn’t even a model, obviously I’m not a model, I was doing it for fun just to build his portfolio. But I was getting into what he was doing and I was interested in behind the camera and stuff, and then that’s where my photography started. I actually started with landscape but then I dropped that a couple of years ago because I figured I was stronger with people and portraits.
What’s your day to day like for you, when it comes to shooting?
Lately its been… I’ve been away. I’ve been touring on the Drake and Migos tour, so my day-to-day has been that since August. I have been going city to city, the states and in Canada, with the opening act, and his name is Roy Woods. I was touring with him for a while, so that’s what my day to day has been like. Before that I was shooting in Toronto mostly, doing jobs, shooting for fun and just building my portfolio. I always build with artists now since I’m focusing on the music industry more…
What pushed you towards shooting the music industry?
My love and passion for music. I love the Toronto sound, I have always loved all the artists from Toronto and I have always wanted to get involved. Obviously I wasn’t going to get involved being a rapper or a singer- and I started photography and I’m like why not mix my passion with another passion. And I love music, and so I intertwined both and its been like that ever since. It’s been my main focus ever since.
How long has it been since you first picked up the camera and started shooting?
2015, end of 2014 I would say.
Out of those four years what did you notice in yourself with the growth, especially being on tour with such a high energy stage and such a big presence?
It’s crazy because you don’t ever think you’re going to go to that level, you see all these other photographers doing that and you think I’m never going to get there, unless I work harder. Sometimes you just….I mean obviously it’s good to believe in yourself, I believe in myself but stuff like that you think is so hard, and then it happens and you’re like Wow! Anything is possible. I wanted to do this two years ago, I wanted to go on a tour with an artist, and I wanted to go on a big tour and I never thought that would be possible until the future, and I never thought it would be possible but it just happened like that. You just get a phone call and you just go and it’s just crazy I can’t believe it.
What is one of your favourite projects that you have worked on?
Definitely 88Glam the cover, that was definitely fun because I am a big fan of Derek, and Drew. And 88Glam as a collective. They’ve been my friends actually before they even started the collective, so it was good to come together to watch them grow and collaborate with them on such a project that it has become now, so it’s cool.
When it comes to seeking inspiration from across Toronto, what do you think plays the biggest part? I know you touched on how passionate you are for the music but what else really inspires your work and creativity?
Obviously the city and the people in the city. To name a few my biggest inspiration has been Elie, Vision Elie, I’ve looked up to him since I first started. My friend showed me his feedback when he had maybe 10,000 followers even, and he was shooting landscape in Toronto, and I couldn’t even believe it. His photos just stood out to me so much and he just inspired me to keep going. I don’t know, something about his pictures I just love it! I’ve been a fan of his ever since I started, obviously just the people from Toronto, the music. It’s just a nice environment to build in and collaborate in.
What are some of the achievements that you are the most proud of? I know that this year you put on a gallery- what are the kind of things that inspired that?
Some achievements, I would say one achievement that I’m happy with is my photobook so far, it’s so cool to see people from around the world buy my work. I’ve had people from Australia, people from Germany, people from England, people from Ireland, and some people from Mexico want it too, and all around the States and Canada. It’s cool to see something so sentimental like a book, go there, like your work is always going to be in that person’s house in that country. I never believed that was possible, when I first released a book, I had so many fans, more like supporters come out and say “hey I want this”, and it’s cool. I put 6 months of sleepless nights into perfecting that book because I knew it was a book, it has to be perfect, you can’t half-ass it! I must have went through about 20,000 photos just to narrow it down to 90 pages, of the 200 of the best pictures. So it’s cool to see that come together.
What have been your greatest challenges in executing what you’ve wanted to do? Is it balancing friendships, relationships, social life, family life and sacrifices?
The biggest challenge right now is balancing school and having to go on the tour, and balancing the photography work when you’re back home. So when I had to go on tour, I actually had to miss school, and I was missing out on the midterm time, and I came back and luckily my teachers are so nice, shoutout to Humber College, because it’s a nice community there and they let me do my midterms after I came back and I was still behind but I had to take the opportunity. I didn’t want to turn that down but I also wanted to stay down in school because it’s a good program. I’m in Digital Communications so I’m balancing that now and I’m in my third year. I don’t want to drop out because I always think it’s good to keep as many doors open as possible. Why shut that door down, I’ve had a lot of talks with a lot of people, and I have gotten a lot of advice but at the end of the day I’ve decided I don’t want to shut that door down in my life. It’s not affecting me in anyway, I’m still doing what I love and I’m still doing that so that has been my biggest challenge. Balancing school and balancing photography.
How long is the program that you’re in?
So one more year left, so a total of four.
Did you get into Humber as you were starting to realize your passion for photography?
Yes, which is why I am lucky because if I didn’t figure out photography, I wouldn’t have been in this program. I wouldn’t have been into digital stuff, photo stuff, video stuff- I would be lost. I just came out of an ACL injury, I wanted to do soccer, I wanted to play soccer and I wasn’t looking for the school. I was already settled in Italy, I wasn’t planning on going back home that was my life. I came back and I just picked this up, and it opened up a whole new world.
With having such a big online presence now a days and like the photography world, there is obviously a lot of like criticism that people have towards your photos, your work? How do you take that? Positive or Negative?
I was raised not to deal with negativity, even if I hear something bad or hear someone say something behind my back, I just laugh. I just brush it off. I’m just so focused on myself and my work, I have no time to talk about other people. I hear something from other people, something bad, and I’m like I never said anything to you- so it’s just funny to me. If I were to hear someone talk something bad about me, and I would see them in person, I wouldn’t even hate on them. I would just say “hey nice to meet you” - I wouldn’t even care, because I don’t have time. I’ve had even people I know personally say something behind my back and I just be like why? I’m not even talking about you, just focus on yourself. Just focus on positive stuff, I don’t have bad to say about anyone because I’m just focused on positive stuff! I’m focused on my own life, why focus on negativity, there is no point.
As a creative, I am sure it has come at some point – have you ever felt a creative block where the inspiration hasn’t been there or there is just not enough clients to shoot at that time and so you just have to create your own inspiration and shoot what you want to shoot? How do you deal with that?
Definitely there has been a lot of that since I started. I create stuff by myself. When I’m lacking inspiration I’ll go do something myself. The book was a big part of that, I was lacking inspiration, I wanted to do something...you know how artists come out with albums, and they focus on themselves - I wanted to come out with something, I wanted to make a name for photographers and say hey you could do this too! You could release a project, and sell it and monetize your work. You don’t always have to be under someone, why not be your own person. Also my goal is still to keep pushing photography to be something big. A lot of people do this in the music industry now. For example, Metro Boomin his album just came out, and he made the Billboard top 200 number 1, he’s a producer, he just showed that even a producer, you don’t have to be an artist, can make the number 1 billboard. That’s like in photography, why can’t photographers do something big like that too? And they can, and I wanted to show that, that’s possible. Photographers can do books, photographers can tour like artists tour, and they can do art galleries and exhibits - so I just want to push photography as much as I can.
What’s a mindset that you have when it comes to creating new opportunities for yourself?
Travelling and networking are the two most important things. Obviously it’s good to keep working in Toronto, but also travelling is cool too! Go bring Toronto and your work somewhere else and network with someone. When I went on tour, I met so many people, and it’s so crazy that when you leave home you see what other people are focusing on back home. It could even be bigger and better and it makes you even more motivated when you come back home - but yeah networking is important as well because meeting new people opens new doors - I’m always meeting new people in the city too, to create new clients. Think about it - if you’re an entrepreneur anything is possible- you’re your own boss. You can’t just think I’m only going to have 5-10 clients, you can have 1000 clients, what’s stopping you? You can have a shoot every single day. The only person stopping you, is you. You can work hard and have two shoots a day, or three shoots a day. Who's to say that photographers won’t be successful, I believe that they can be.
What advice would you give to a young person who wants to start their journey in the creative field/photography?
I would always say this, just believe in yourself when no one believes in you! Because when I started out, people laughed at me, made fun of me - I was in high school, I was in Grade 12. I was from Oakville - so they were like why do you go to Toronto every day, why do you take photos? What’s the purpose, and I had no answer for them, and I said it’s because I like doing it. I’m passionate about it, it doesn’t always have to be about money, it doesn’t have to be about “oh i’m not cool if I don’t do this” I never gave up- I’m still doing it now. A lot of the same people that didn’t believe me then, come back to me now and say “oh wow, it just makes sense now”. The best advices is believe in yourself when no one else does, and don’t give up if you think that, that’s your future! Don’t even let your parents tell you otherwise. You’re your own person, don’t let your parents or friends control you, don’t do what your friends are doing, do what you want to do. That’s it.
What does Home is Toronto, or Toronto vs. Everybody mean to you?
I knew what Toronto vs. Everybody was even before I knew what Peace Collective was. I always saw people wearing it and I was like this is new, this is cool, this is different, and I saw it everywhere. Peace Collective and Home is Toronto and Toronto vs. Everybody means and just spells out Toronto for me. This brand is like so home based, and so Toronto, and so special and sentimental, it’s special. Yeah, it’s special- that’s how I would describe it.
On your off days, and even in the car driving from Oakville, what kind of music really inspires you? I know you said you like the Toronto sound, but if there was like 5 artists that you’re listening to right now?
I love hip-hop but I also like one guy in the dance industry, and his name is Kygo, he’s from Norway. I actually love his music, I actually don’t even listen to that kind of music I just like him. I think he’s talented and I listen to him genuinely, he’s on my playlist. But hip-hop mostly, so it would be Kygo, 88 Glam, The Weeknd. The Weeknd is one of my favourite artists - I love XO, shout to everyone in XO. Drake I love Drake and I listen to him and last is Roy Woods. He is one of my favourite artists and one of my best friends!
Going on tour with them makes me appreciate them even more. Artists work so hard, they wake up and they have something to do, it’s not easy! It’s not just about going with him, it’s like he performs and then goes to the studio after. He performs and then has an interview after non-stop. I appreciate it.
What would you classify your personal fashion style as?
Stone Island. I love Stone Island, that’s my favourite brand. My dream is to be sponsored by them. I’m not necessarily sure if they do that but if they’re listening right now, I want a sponsorship because I love them. Yes, that’s my favourite brand, that’s just my trademark. Everyone who sees me knows I wear Stone Island. I got into it about two years ago and haven’t stopped wearing it since. Off-White, I like Off-white too. My fashion is, I guess you could say high fashion but maybe not to the point of like I don’t wear a lot of Gucci and stuff and like that but I’d like to. I like high fashion.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be. And why?
To be honest after being in L.A for two weeks, Los Angeles. Not because it’s L.A and everyone wants to go Hollywood but it’s because I love the atmosphere. Everyone is so entrepreneurial and so self-made and they work hard. It’s so big too! You can connect with so many people but yeah I love Toronto too. If I had the choice if life was perfect, I would be back and forth between Toronto and L.A. That’s where I want to live, either one of those places are fine!
Definitely a shoutout to every artist I’ve ever worked with in Toronto, honourable mentions would be everyone I work with - Roy Woods, Come Down, 88Glam, Ramriddlz, all these guys they inspire me, they’re my friends. We all started out together I believe. I knew these guys when they were young, and when I was young, and they believed in me when no one did. So all the Toronto artists, I have genuine love for because they supported me. And shoutout to Peace Collective for this and yeah.