OWNER AND DESIGN STRATEGIST, FIVE SIGMA STUDIO, BOSTON MA
Niki Blaker is a design strategist and founder of Five Sigma Studio ‒ a design firm focused on bringing design, content, and technical SEO together. Her work is guided by an emphasis on cross-discipline collaboration and in-depth research that makes meaningful brand strategy and design experiences possible. Previously, Niki served as an Art Director at LaneTerralever, and as a Design Strategist at Forty, where her clients included Goodyear Tire, Honeywell, CBS, and JDA. She’s received two ADDY awards and was recognized as one of Phoenix’s Top 100 Creatives by the Phoenix New Times. Niki has been on the AIGA National Board as the Presidents Council Chair and is the President Emeritus of AIGA Arizona. She recently relocated to Boston where she lives with her husband and tiny Pomeranian.
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW?
Born and raised in Kensington MD. Lived in Phoenix for 10 years and moved to Boston last year.
DID YOU GO TO DESIGN SCHOOL?
Originally received a degree in Performing Arts Administration, but then received a Master’s Degree in Visual Communications from the University of Maryland.
LEFTY OR RIGHTY?
MORNING PERSON OR NIGHT OWL?
Night owl for sure!
FICTIONAL OR HISTORICAL CHARACTER YOU’VE ALWAYS IDENTIFIED WITH?
ARE YOU MUSICAL AND/OR DO YOU PLAY AN INSTRUMENT?
Yes! In fact, before I was a designer, I was a classical pianist and original set out to be a piano performance major. I even taught piano for 10 years.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE CHILDHOOD TV SHOW?
LAST BOOK YOU READ?
The Road by Cormac McCarthy, The Course of Love by Alain De Botton Do you have
A 5 lb. Pomeranian named Fiona who gets way more Instagram likes than I ever do.
WHAT LANGUAGES ARE YOU FLUENT IN?
Anything from Wes Anderson
FAVORITE FINE ARTIST?
Monet (in general, the French Impressionist period)
FAVORITE FREE TIME ACTIVITY?
This year I’ve been focusing on taking care of my health and have lost 60 lbs. so far! I have fallen in love with working out and running.
WHAT’S THE LAST COMPLIMENT YOU GOT?
Related to my year of health, so many of my friends and peers on Facebook have been cheering me on my progress and it feels great to get their encouragement!
DO YOU COLLECT ANYTHING?
After moving to the heart of Boston and downgrading to a 625 sq foot apartment, there isn’t much room for collection. However, I am and will probably always be a digital hoarder! I have over 175 GB of design assets!
COLOR USED MOST OFTEN IN YOUR DESIGN?
Friends joke that I have a “Niki Palette” consisting of colors muted in tone by grey or black. I definitely love darker colors.
TYPEFACE USED MOST OFTEN?
DO YOU HAVE A DESIGN MENTOR OR INSPIRATION?
Hillman Curtis. His artist series films completely changed my views on how impactful design could be.
GREATEST STRENGTH/WEAKNESS AS A DESIGNER?
My greatest strength over the years has become to not take criticism personally and use feedback in a way to even better solve the problem at hand. My weakness is that after all these years, I still procrastinate!
ADVICE TO A YOUNG DESIGNER JUST STARTING OUT?
Don’t just design something because it’s how you feel it should look. Research your client, their audience, the industry. View design as problem solving. Learn how to justify and sell your work and make sure your solutions are backed with your approach and reason. Also, if you plan to work for yourself, learn how to run a business ‑ it ends up being even more part of your day-to-day than design itself.
IF YOU WERE NOT A DESIGNER, WHAT WOULD YOU BE?
A music director at a symphony hall
A MANTRA OR SAYING YOU LIVE BY?
The strength and courage to face anything is always within you