Marketplace Success Story: Nomad Photo Reference (Ibrahim Lancoln)

Ibrahim Lancoln of Nomad Photo Reference discovered his passion for photography while studying game art and started learning self-taught. Having seen photo reference packs on online marketplaces, he discovered it was a way he could earn money while being useful to other artists and doing what he loves.

While he initially started his career as an Environment Artist at Gameloft Montreal in 2016, he soon realized he wanted to be an independent artist and create his own ideas, while keeping a foot in the door in the game industry.

In 2018 when his contract ended, he began his adventure traveling to China and South Korea. He resumed his passion for photography and thus began Nomad Photo Reference. He is now a professional independent photographer and one of the ArtStation Marketplace’s top sellers.

How did you begin creating tutorial content and how does it fit in with your full-time job?

My job is to create useful content and save time for artists so creating tutorials is a part of it. Besides, I always liked to teach and share my knowledge.

“What you know, you must teach.”  I don’t remember who said that but it became so clear in my head that I made it one of my rules in life.

The first two tutorials Wood planks & Warmish Pavement are about texture and material creations. It is the fusion of what I learned at Gameloft and the workflow enhancement I brought with Substance Designer and Painter.

What motivated you to sign up to sell on the Marketplace?

I go to ArtStation every day. I just like to see artwork there. It is a digital museum full of game and movie art. I signed up for the Marketplace Beta just to try it and because I trusted ArtStation.  I was one of the first to sell Photo Reference Packs there.

The fact that I was there at the beginning of this Marketplace with a sample of other artists, I knew our feedback would be used to build it. I like the Marketplace because it is clear, there are many handy features and it’s constantly being developed.

As a seller, my favorite feature is when someone buys a product. This user automatically becomes a follower which is very useful for communication and for my business to grow.

What advice do you have for other sellers and artists looking to supplement their income?

Unless you are famous, I suggest you learn the basics of online marketing. Being talented and able to work hard is not enough to succeed. I didn’t like marketing for a long time, mostly because of the prejudices that come with this word and in truth, because I didn’t know anything about it.  But, I understand and I even like that now. Marketing is a tool, like the force, you are the one who chooses how to use it.

If you are proud of what you create and if you want to share it with the world. You must learn how to invite people to it and to showcase your creation to give it the honor it deserves.

We are in a niche, some of us are in a niche of a niche. There is not much information to tell us how to specifically succeed in our domain yet. So you have to learn from other areas and adapt these skills to your domain.  I can sum up my gameplay loop as: Die and retry. It took me years to find my place in this industry. I asked and proposed a lot of things to refine my offer.

What marketing tools or tactics have you found to be most successful in promoting your products?

  1. I have two Free products to give a taste of what you can find in my store. There are samples of Reference Photos and PNG Cutouts at the same quality as the complete packs.
  2. I visit ArtStation every day while drinking my morning coffee. This is when I stay up to date about what artists do and what they need.
  3. I have learned to provide a good after-sales service.
  4. I create quality products in collaboration with artists like my friend Lucas Leger. He reviews my packs, uses them to create his artwork, and gives me feedback if the content is relevant or not.

What products from you can users look forward to?

I figured that artists liked my last Post: Composition Study: Visual Storytelling, so I want to make some more and go deeper into this teaching.

There are new PNG Photo Packs coming in the next few weeks. They are about Tombs, Birds, and Post-apocalyptic props.

Since I can’t travel much during the Covid19, I have time to remaster my first Photo Reference Packs to set them up to my actual photography quality. So if you already bought them, you will have free updates like the pack Seoul By Night.

Visit Ibrahim’s Store to find reference packs for your next project > 

You can also browse his photo reference packs by location using his Travel Map.


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