Niki Selken 👩🏻💻is an artist, technologist and educator. Her work focuses around storytelling, XR games and immersive design. She is the Creative Development Lead at in the Gray Area where she manages the artist incubator and creative code education programs. She founded the Emoji Foundation, created the Emoji Dictionary, and VR game EmojiFlower VR. Niki attributes her intuitive understanding of the translation and meaning of Emoji to her extensive Japanese stationery collection and study of Japanese Butoh and Noh theater. When she is not expanding her Emoji Empire she enjoys designing and playing games, Karaoke and of course, using Emoji. 😎🍕❤️
Niki has taught interaction design, creative coding, and game design at Parsons School of Design, St. Joseph's College in Brooklyn, University of San Francisco, and Bay Area Video Collective. Before delving into design, she founded experimental theater company, Ko Labs, and a technology consultancy, Big Treehouse. Afterwards she moved to Brooklyn and attended Parsons MFA Design and Technology program where she was awarded design fellowships with Ms. Foundation for Women and PETlab as well as Girls Write Now. In 2013 she founded the World Translation Foundation with Cara Rose DeFabio as a way to promote, explore, and translate the written word into the pictorial alphabet of Emoji. Her latest Emoji project, The Emoji Dictionary, debuted in New York City at The Proof is in the Processor art show and was featured at Currents New Media Art Festival 2015 in Santa Fe. In 2014 she won New York NASA Space Apps and placed as a global finalist for wearable tech project, Senti8. Her game, Find Maria Rivera was exhibited and selected as an Award Finalist at Indiecade 2015. In 2016 she was selected as a Kill Screen game design scholar and Parsons E-Lab fellow for her Augmented Reality platform, Wayscape. Niki's design and Emoji work has been featured by Yahoo Tech, Adafruit, Buzzfeed and Make Magazine among others.
Niki has worked as a designer and technologist with range of non profits and small businesses including Ms. Foundation, ACT for Women and Girls, Girls Write Now, LYRIC, The Beck Law Group, Zen Hospice, Hesperian Health Guides and others. She has performed and/or worked with Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, The San Jose Stage Company, Yerba Buena Center for Performing Arts, Counterpulse Theater, and United Broadcasting Theater Company among others. In 2007 Niki founded the theater company, Ko Labs, which presented The Endless Frontier at the 2008 San Francisco Fringe Festival and at the 2009 Women on the Way Festival. In May 2011 she debuted her musical Gods of San Francisco, directed by Shakina Nayfack.