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Daily Inspiration: Meet Nikki Roach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nikki Roach. 

Hi Nikki, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Once upon a time in Michigan, I was born and in the beginning, there was no internet. There were books and encyclopedias that came on CD-ROMs. I’m mentioning this because I am an artist who has an obsession with information technologies and I’d include in that descriptor things like books and the internet since they’re ostensibly content containers or visual information spaces. In other words, spaces where we read. When I read, I’m reading words, obviously, and also, I’m reading into the “container” itself. By that I mean I will examine the ink, the paper, the binding technique; and other kinds of clandestine aspects: grids, the shape of the page, graphic devices, etc. 

Typography and interactive design are the main things I studied in college. Bookmaking is maybe what I’m most well-known for today. My obsession with books occurred when I was a youngin. Around age ten, I wanted to read a hundred books in a year. That failed lol but I adjusted my goal to 150 books over that year and the next, which succeeded. The library was essential in my life at that time. There’s so much to discover when you are a curious person. Discovering the internet had a similar effect on me. To escape and become something online allowed me to dream and discover. Simultaneously recognizing the privilege to have libraries and the internet at a young age, almost 20 years ago. It’s 2022 now in Detroit where I am and those essential services are still not available. 

I’ve been making one book on and off for years. It’s of a poem I wrote, which began as a blog post and was later interpreted in a video format. Now it’s a short book. It could become a video again next; we will see. Pre-covid, I was making books in a more professional, less DIY, capacity and am grateful to have contributed to some award-winning designs. 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There’s challenges in being a freelancer or running a small business. Chasing down money and work is not fun. Relationships make everything happen though and I have greatly supportive ones. I’ve also had innumerable proposals for jobs fall through as soon as a deposit was requested. That can be discouraging. I think too about how I don’t want to be hustling super hard until my deathbed. Lastly, I’m challenged by not being able to focus on bookmaking as easily in Detroit since there’s not as much of an industry for that here, unlike NYC or LA. I could be chasing down that type of work better but I’m too focused right now on other things like community internet and printmaking. 

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
The business I started in 2016 is called Labor Sports. It’s called that because I was thinking about the precarious nature of creative work as I was switching from full-time to freelance. The business offers design and print services. My longer description is that Labor Sports is a design and research platform that makes digital and physical artifacts for individuals and businesses so they can communicate visually and technologically. I’m most proud when, for client projects, I succeed in making something that the client feels well represented by and excited about; and it has to function well. With my own art, I am proud when I can articulate my thought clearly and get it out where it can speak on its own, period. 

What matters most to you?
Friendship and working on my goals. 

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