new york, new york 2018

LOndon, uk 2019 [photo by steven fung]

To say that luck isn't playing a part on the boldest transformations of my life so far would be a contradiction to everything that I stand for, life has a lot of randomness and it is both a privilege and a curse for me to be naturally skilled at recognizing which ones to ignore, and which ones to bet my whole heart on. The more I do, the more interesting things just get. I can't think of a more appropriate description for my chosen career path.
I'M NO STRAIGHT ARROW. Though I have a background in classical and traditional design, my career path is far from it. The first five years of my career as a professional designer were also the least fruitful, and eventful simply because I didn't care (yet, at that time) about the future of this industry, so much so that I questioned myself multiple times about whether or not I really belong here. For the longest time, I lacked the real passion, discipline and intent I needed to flourish in this industry. I was, for all intents and purposes, indifferent to the potential of my work, which is by extension, my life. ​​​​​​​
Turning point
Everything changed when I was hired at a highly profitable, very traditional Mad-Men-like advertising agency in Manila, Philippines where I was assigned to a small, less-than-15-people innovation and digital team and I was introduced to UX in the most unconventional, and difficult of ways. It's been four years, multiple tech startups, three different apartments, two cities since then but I still feel like that same underdog with the very same Impostor Syndrome but with a much better mindset rooted in growth, and this endless thirst for pursuing new things way over my league intellectually, at times. All the best people and projects are. 
What I've been up to
In the last 2 years, I've helped design & build a holographic platform, contracted for a research team inside Fidelity Investments, worked in the Design Operations side of an e-commerce company, mentored brilliant design students/career-changers and advocated for UX best practices at RookieUp, have co-taught UX courses at General Assembly and have also contributed directly to the growth of the Mentorship program on UXPA-New York. Designing for a better world is my life. From myself all the way to the companies I've had the great fortune to work with, I consider that my life's work. Download my résumé here
I spoke about past failures, wake up calls and serendipities in design at UX Camp Chicago last winter. If you are interested to see, please click the button below. Thank you to Russ & co
"I’d like to recommend Nikki Espartinez as an exceptionally warm, thorough, and self-motivated co-worker. Nikki was absolutely invaluable as well as being a joy to work with. With her obvious empathy and untiring work ethic, I believe she will be a great addition to any team or company." - Mark Richman, taught UX classes with him at General Assembly-East Coast
Select personal essays
"Nikki has been such a phenomenal UX mentor over the past several weeks. She is always there with quick responses to any questions I have. She amazes me with the feedback she gives on my work. Nikki is kind-hearted and full of wisdom. She truly cares how you are doing and is there with whatever you need to succeed. I highly, highly recommend working with Nikki!" - Shelby Coulter, mentored her at
handwritten motivations

Some #honestmotivations

Fortunate enough to have worked with them as well: 
"In addition to being a creative designer with an innovative mindset, Nikki is also very well read and makes for a very interesting conversationalist and an articulate writer."
→ Damayanti Bhattacharjee, Director of Mentorship at UXPA-New York
"Designing UI and UX for a futuristic display is a real challenge, and Nikki rose to meet it. She contributed wonderful designs at Looking Glass Factory, none more important than our Library. One of our core pieces of software, this is our main gateway for bringing content to our community, and it wouldn't have to come to life without Nikki's hard work." 
 Alex Duncan,  Software Team Lead at Looking Glass Factory

"Nikki has been mentoring students on RookieUp for over a year and has made a true impact on her mentees through her thoughtful, in-depth mentorship and feedback. Her students have nothing but wonderful things to say about her as a designer and teacher, and we're lucky to have her on RookieUp!"
 Alec McGuffy,  Founder at RookieUp
"Nikki is an exceptional designer. She brings a fresh and innovative approach to her work. I have been continually impressed by her design process and creative style while working together. She collaborates well within a team but can also work independently to produce great work." 
→ Joni Albers, Manager (Product and UX) at NBC Universal
"Nikki also has a particular talent for designs that will work well across many devices, particularly mobile devices. I have found that mobile “minimalism” often means outright boring, but Nikki was always able to instill her designs full of color and dynamism. This prowess can be seen clearly in her designs for the CMWN newsfeed, a familiar, but crucial, feature that she was able to breathe new life into for our young users."
→ Max Rafferty, Senior Software Engineer at Bread Finance
Two people in a bus stop
Two people in a bus stop
Fog and New Yorkers
Fog and New Yorkers
Walk among the giants
Walk among the giants
On my downtime, I explore the fundamentals of street photography using an iPhone and/or a Nikon D7100 with a 35mm lens (And release free New York-themed iPhone wallpapers online). I learned a lot about the innate capacity of contrast to empower a composition, and how impactful frames can affect an audience, even those with the loudest voices of skepticism. Believe it or not, these principles were prime contributors to the growth of every day job I've ever had, and my life, for the matter. Instagram: @lifeboats1990
Get in touch
As an option, you can also send me an email me here:
Thank you!
Back to Top