School of Art, Media, and Technology

BFACD Alumni Feature: Nika Simovich

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A view of my personal website. This website is set to the lunar calendar: every few days the layout changes. The full moon view is shown here.

Since graduating, Nika has worked in a variety of environments  both large and small. She started her career with internships at design studios Linked by Air and Everything Studio. She later worked as the Graphic and Packaging Designer at Areaware, a Brooklyn based producer of designer gifts and home accessories. Most recently she has worked collaboratively with her programmer boyfriend, Dylan Fisher and as a freelance designer with clients that include Kate Spade, Panoply, FCB, Watson and Company, Warby Parker, and Anna Sheffield.

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A print from a series titled Scanographies. Scanographies is a Bruno Munari inspired series where I explore the limits of image making with my scanner. In this image, I scanned a moving piece of pink paper and rose petals. Printed on thick watercolor paper.

What were your favorite classes at Parsons?

  • Thesis with Juliette Cezzar
  • Core Interaction with Brian Watterson and Zack Seuberling
  • Narratives with Jun Sassa

I really enjoyed these courses because they required you  you to be able to generate personal content. Prior to my experience at Parsons, I thought graphic design was exclusively service based, about people other than yourself.  

While this is still true in some cases, graphic design also has the ability to present something you care about. In doing so, it becomes much richer and more compelling. The teachers in all these classes were amazing: no-nonsense types that wouldn’t tolerate laziness or stupidity. They provided many reference points of designers I should know about, and motivated me to work as diligently as possible.

What did you wish you knew as a student that you know now?

Academically, I wish I had taken more electives that required making something from scratch or learning a new skill. I would have loved to take Geoff Han’s type design class, and taken less advertising courses (one is plenty).

Professionally speaking, our full time job does not define you as a person. Even if you dream of working in a culturally rooted small studio or go down the corporate rabbit-hole, you’re still a good designer and can be defined by the work you do for yourself. In addition, sometimes when you’re working in a less interesting environment, you gain more respect for your insights and can push the work in a different direction. Having that type of autonomy is important as a designer and is sometimes more beneficial than working somewhere cool.

Who do you look up to in the design community?

I’m most fascinated by designers that have a clear voice: one that you can recognize throughout a vast body of work. For example: the Dutch interactive studio Moniker, Common Name, and Tadashi Ueda. I also look up to designers that have side projects outside of the work that they do, for example, Elana Schlenker and her Gratuitous Type publication, or Benjamin Critton and his studio, Norma. Lastly, I’m inspired by designers that spend a lot of energy writing about design. Michael Rock and his Multiple Signatures book is one of my favorites.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Having my personal website featured on a few blogs including my favorite one, TypeWolf. Also, being asked to present at Tiff Hockin’s Core Interaction course. That was a “full circle” moment which made me realize how far I’ve come since graduation. It also made made me realize that I’d love to be a teacher one day.

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A 2-colored broadsheet I made at Areaware for their 2015 ICFF show titled Origin Stories. Origin Stories focused on highlighting the origin of the spring collection and did so by sharing stories from the designers. At the show, Areaware showed both the prototypes of the products and the finished, mass-produced piece. The broadsheet shared stories from the designers about making the products and was printed in two colors to reflect the voice of the designers and the voice of Areaware.

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Part of a website sketch I presented for On Purpose; Kate Spade’s label that partners with developing communities to create jobs and empower women.

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