Interviewing Idols: Nejc Polovsak

Nejc’s work was referenced in my university sketchbook time and time again, and continues to be one of my main inspirations when it comes to nature renders and animations. Seeing his work just makes me want to get better, to reach his level, and just become an all-around better 3D motion designer.

Working as a freelancer, Nejc has worked for so many big names. Buck, Tendril, FutureDeluxe, LosYork, Frame, Six N. Five. That's just incredible! But it’s clear to see why they want to work with him when his work is so good. Not only has he worked with big studios, but big clients too. Nike, Microsoft, Nvidia, IBM, Adidas, Motorola, Wacom, and Adobe are just some of the plentiful list of clients Nejc has under his belt. He’s also been featured on the usual list of Behance, Motionographer, Stash, The Verge, and many more.
The guy is a machine!

https://www.twistedpoly.com/flow

Why does he inspire me?

I think all I need to do is show you Nejc’s showreel. I mean come on. It is just utterly fantastic. He’s an incredibly talented individual (and as you’ll learn later in the piece) and amazingly he’s completely self-taught. Mind blowing! He’s released a few paid tutorials, and those of you who have read a few of these interviews know I’m a massive fan of designers that do this. He released a breakdown of his ‘Flow MTB’ animation. To see his workflow is invaluable, but mainly you really get to see his mind at work. It’s fantastic to watch and to learn from someone as good as himself.

Nejc has a distinct style. I saw some of the latest work from Microsoft and just knew he had helped. He must of! Throughout his work, there’s a joy for nature and organic shapes/patterns. It’s clear that it’s taken quite some time to get to this stage, but man has it paid off. The work done for Konica Minolta is just absolutely incredible. The project mixed psychedelic colors with abstract animations, while also creating realistic-looking materials and objects. His RND section of the project on this website is amazing too, seeing his process and experimentation is fantastic.

We don’t see enough RND work in the 3D community. Obviously, we see quite a bit of process on people’s Instagram, but not enough of the ‘Didn’t make the cut’ sort of work. That’s what really interests me. When designers go outside of the conventional and make something they can really show off their skills with. Nejc’s website is full of this, and I love it!

The Interview part

I was lucky enough to be able to ask Nejc some questions about himself and his career. I hope this’ll give you a little bit of an insight into his life, personal and commercial as well as his design process. It’s not every day you get to interview an idol!

1. Who are you, and how did you start your journey into the world of design?

Hey Charlie. Honestly, I did it by accident! I studied computer science and roughly at the same time I discovered the world of 3D, which was my hobby in the beginning. It pulled me in very quickly and I was very passionate about learning it. I started to realize that pretty much everything is possible to do with 3D. That was about 16 years ago, when I was 20 years old, wow.
Time flies!

During my studies, I started doing my own personal 3D projects and experiments and shared them with the local community, which is actually how I got my first job as a 3D artist. I was doing several things there, but basically, we were a small startup making online games. I was mainly doing graphics and a bit of animation every now and then. I didn’t finish my computer science studies as 3D felt like the thing I wanted to be doing, instead of coding.

After about 3 years there, I needed a change in my personal and work life. I wanted to make a switch from doing game graphics into more commercial, motion graphics type of work. At first, my plan was to look for a full-time position somewhere abroad, like London, where I also did a couple of short internships. During that time I also started receiving some freelance job offers, which I took on, loved the lifestyle and possibilities it offers. So long story short, now we’re here! My freelance career started slowly but picked up quickly after a couple of years when I was also able to get the opportunity to work with a few lovely people and places.

One thing I always love to point out is that it was always my personal work that put me on the radar of certain people and pushed me forwards, especially in those early days.

So for me, I think the most important thing for an artist to do is to find their style and voice and get their personal work out there! It’ll bring in commercial work that you’d like to do.

https://www.twistedpoly.com/kolab-elemental

2. Could you give some insight into your creative process?

I’m all digital and I pretty much never sketch. The only time I use a pencil is for writing down notes, and ideas…Obviously, it depends on the job, but I love to come up with ideas through experimentation and discovery in 3D, but that goes mostly for personal work or very flexible client work.

Often it’s also about gathering references, and making mood boards, before getting into 3D at all. I like seeing things in different places, trying to combine, merge, or use them in some kind of way in 3D. Most of the time, especially for personal work, I may simply have an idea/image stored in the back of my mind and try to give it a try in 3D.

https://www.twistedpoly.com/kolab-pop

3. Where do you get your inspiration for projects? Who inspires you!

Honestly, I mostly get inspired and motivated by seeing other people doing and making kickass work!

For me, inspiration comes from many places. A lot of my previous works are heavily inspired by nature, which I love to spend time in. Sometimes I could be inspired by other people’s work or even a tool inside of a software. I also often get inspired by music, on which 3D work would be based. It’s weird. If I start doing something in 3D and try to sync it to certain music and SFX, I start visualizing in my head what type of movements and things could happen on a certain sound effect.

Also, one of the most inspiring places for ideas is for sure the shower :)

https://www.twistedpoly.com/microsoft-ux-themes

4. What are some of the largest challenges you had to overcome during your artmaking process?

I’d say the biggest challenge is non-stop constant “fighting” with the software, to bridge the gap between the idea in your head and actually executing it and making it possible.

I realized a long time ago that I’ll never be able to learn and know everything, but on the other hand, I like to “fake it till you make it”. I don’t think you need to learn a specific tool that does this one thing to pull something off. In reality, you as a creative person need to find ways to use what you know to your advantage.

Another challenge was also being partially burned out from work in the past, but I think I was able to recognize it soon enough, to be able to step away and take a couple of years easy. Sometimes you just need to sit down and redefine your priorities in life. I think you need balance in life if you want to stay creative in the long term.

https://www.twistedpoly.com/mostly-wood

5. Do you have any big designs/projects in the works or anything that excites you about the future of your career?

I always have something cooking, there’s one bigger personal project I’d like to make happen, but honestly, I’m not yet sure when. It is conceptually tied to what’s happening in my life at the moment.

The most exciting thing for me is still, after almost 11 years of freelance, all the possibilities freelance life offers, new opportunities and people to work with, endlessly developing myself, my skills and my style and work I’m trying to do, I could say I’m still as passionate as I was in the beginning.

At some point, I’d also love to figure out how to level up from being an artist to something bigger, but also not sure if that’s the right path for me. At the moment I just really enjoy the freedom and flexibility of that a lot, but I’m sure there will be a time and a place in the future for that.

6. The first project of yours I saw was the ‘Grow’ film you made. How important do you think personal work is as well as paid work?

Is it really 5 years already, damn :) I did touch on personal projects in the previous answers, they played a crucial role in my career. My whole 3D career started by learning, doing, and sharing my own work, without realizing the importance of it.

Now looking back, personal work always got me the attention, skills and opportunities I otherwise could never get, by simply waiting forever for the right job to appear in my inbox.

With personal projects, you make opportunities for yourself and you steer yourself in the direction you want to be going in the future and you also learn how to start and finish something.

https://www.twistedpoly.com/grow

7. You’ve worked with so many amazing brands and studios! Any favorite brands/companies/people you’ve worked with?

Oh there’s been so many amazing people to work with! Over the past year or so I did a lot of work with Microsoft and they’ve been amazing to work with, dream client. The studio I worked the most with in the past has to be Tendril — who are incredibly nice and just all-around lovely people. Working with Buck on a few jobs has been great too, always super organized and pleasant to work with. Another amazing place I had the honor of working with was FutureDeluxe. Mothership will probably always be one of my most important projects and I really loved collaborating with Andrew back in the day, as he was steering me and pushing me in the right direction with that one.

I really appreciate every opportunity I get to work with different people, there’s been so many, if I name them all this will be a looong list :)

https://www.twistedpoly.com/mothership

8. I absolutely loved your ‘Flow’ project! As a keen mountain biker myself, I thought it was fantastic!

Thanks, man! It’s been fun bridging two passions. I wished and hoped it would get me more work in the bike industry, but nothing yet. Maybe I’d also have to push it more and reach out to more people/companies, but been busy with other stuff :)

https://www.twistedpoly.com/flow

9. You’ve got so much fantastic work on your website! What do you like to do in your time away from work?

I love spending time with my girlfriend and our dog, doing trips around, spending time with friends, barbecuing and picnics are always nice, mountain biking and hiking are other things for me to do. I like stepping away from work, it helps to clear my mind.

I also started learning the guitar, which was something I wanted to do since being a teenager and covid was kind of the perfect time to get into that. I love to travel, for me, it’s the number one thing to refresh, reset and clear your mind, but obviously didn’t have that much opportunity to do that over the last couple of years for very obvious reasons. But in this time we were lucky enough to find and buy a house, which needed some work, so that’s another thing that’s been keeping me busy lately.

https://www.twistedpoly.com/ms-sharepoint

10. Thank you for taking part in this for me, Nejc! It’s been great having the chance to talk to you and learn more about you and your process! For the people who will read this interview, what are your social media links for people to follow your future work? (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Websites, etc…!)

Thanks, Charlie, it’s been a pleasure. Links below:

My Website, Instagram, Twitter, Behance, LinkedIn, and Gumroad!

Want to see more from me? Follow me on Medium, or my Instagram :)

https://www.instagram.com/c.ellis3d

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