Theories: Nick Ferreira & “Challenger”

[6 May 2017]

Intro/Questions: Lino Gonzalez

Challenger is a new and refreshing project from Nick Ferreira who has a history of creating interesting zines with a unique perspective. I asked Nick some questions in our latest “Theories” article to supplement the zine which is available in our online shop.


-You were previously involved with Hole Shot and a few other zines/projects in the past. Can you give a quick rundown of your history of BMX projects?

My first BMX project was called Communication? Zine- it was pretty bad but also awesome in that 16/17-year old angsty way. I was really inspired by Andrew Burton’s Giraffe Brothers zine and web site. If I hadn’t seen his zine I’m not sure I would have actually printed Communication? Then while I was in college Andrew and I started working on some video projects (Suburban Shred, Sizzla!), and a web site called Hold On Tighter. Which was such a fun web site to work on. Andrew would always switch out the layout and some months we’d have featured photographers or Andrew would make some cool edit really right at the time before edits were even a thing. It was so fun and carefree. Then after that I worked on Holeshot for like 4 years off and on. Fast forward like 5 years and I started putting some stuff together with that zine Schweppes last year and had a really good time. I’ve been doing these non-BMX projects called “Inspiration in [insert year]” for the past couple years and just figured I would kind of blend them together. I like working on projects with a strict deadline/constraint since I have a full-time job. It really helps me manage my time.

-You have a knack for a certain type of effortless humor in your writing and projects. Is that something you’re conscious of?

Honestly that probably goes back to just being really inspired by Andrew Burton’s writing and humor. I also really like deadpan writing and art- artists like Ed Ruscha. Sometimes when I write I’ll get wicked serious, like some 17 year old applying for a college scholarship. Then I scrap it and find my tone, which is much less serious. I appreciate you saying effortless but it takes a lot of effort for me to be effortless- if that makes sense ha.

-A few years back you made the move from New England to Chicago. What sparked that and how do you like Chicago?

I moved out here for my job. When I was in RI I was getting my master’s in library science and then I finished in summer 2012. I applied for a job at an art school here in Chicago and surprisingly got it.

It’s taken some time to really feel like Chicago is home. I never ever thought I’d live in the Midwest/Chicago but now I really like it minus some of the issues this city is facing. The only thing the midwest puts a damper on is surfing which is something I really want to do more than once or twice a year. There’s no huge rush for that though. Anyway- yeah I like it here. It’s dope to ride your bike to go swim in an amazing lake and there’s cool music and art stuff going on. Plus the riding is fun too. People are generally mad nice here and in the Midwest in general. I like that.

-Chicago has been in the media due to its violence quite a bit the last couple years, being a resident is there a tension within the city that you notice or do you feel the whole thing is hyped up by the media?

I mean the violence is real and the tension is there. I’m not sure I feel totally comfortable speaking on this as I’m still kind of a transplant and but I’ll offer what I can. The violence in the media is real but you also never see the amazing work people in neighborhoods are doing to combat violence and other injustices facing their communities. I always see stuff like “those people are in the streets for police violence but not violence in their own neighborhoods”, etc. But there are protests and activism fighting against all of the issues like violence, school closures, etc. (here’s a good blog post). I wish that stuff was hyped in the media just as much.

It drives me nuts that one of the biggest cities in the United States has neighborhoods that are essentially deprived of resources other neighborhoods have never even had to think about. Shit like grocery stores and schools. I mean once schools close in a neighborhood it really seems like the glue that holds a neighborhood together can start to crack. My answer is almost nonsensical but as they say there’s levels to this and it’s hard to understand the issues Chicago is facing without looking at other underlying problems. One article that helped me start to understand the issues of Chicago is this article about the history of racist red-lining practices: Ta-nehesi Coates, “The Case for Reparations.

-The newspaper format of Challenger is a very unique idea, what was your inspiration for that?

Thanks. I’ll be completely honest- I straight up stole (in solidarity, though) the folding format from this leftist paper here in Chicago, The Platypus Review. I like how you can disseminate a decent amount of information for pretty cheap. But I was really inspired by some older political newspapers that I’ve been reading about. And I really liked this paper in Providence, Mothers News. That was a great project. I think Challenger is really different from that but it was inspiring for sure.


Photo: Coleman Lopes

-We spoke about it shortly in an email but, your twitter has been very interesting lately with a lot of observations on bmx. What sparked initially sparked that?

I think for a minute I was kind of getting sucked into BMX over the winter, just kind of bored and not really understanding how so much stuff gets a pass- thankfully now I’m basically just trying to focus on my shit, making sure it’s offering something different, and actually riding myself. But when I was getting sucked in I couldn’t help but feel like there is just an absurd level of “yes-men” in BMX- just no thought or self-reflection. Example: “Pink dad-hats are cool, let’s make some!” Or just the constant barrage of BS just because a company needs “content.”

The other thing that was annoying was that if you are older and have an opinion you are just “old and salty.” That type of BMXer is very real but I really pride myself on not being that way- like just hating on everything. There’s so much dope stuff happening in BMX, just as much as there was in 2005 or 1995 but there’s also some straight-up offensive stuff going down and it’s okay to make fun of it and call people out. Maybe I don’t “get it” and maybe “it’s not for me” but I can still call stuff out- just like people can call out my creative projects if they want.

-Being that you’re an older rider with an opinion and also still putting out projects, do you ever get questions or comments from from younger riders that might not get it yet?

Not really- maybe some confusion ha. At the Let’s Roast (big thanks to them) release party some younger kids seemed hyped- one said “yo this is kinda sick” to their friend. That was cool.

-Everyone has their idea of “what BMX is” or “what is good for BMX”. Personally what is the most important thing about BMX to you?

It’s been everything from a vehicle to see the country and learn new things to the best (free) therapy session.

-Your taste in music is pretty eclectic, but speaking specifically about hip hop, Are you into the new generation/style of rap this is out right now?

Yes for sure. I really like it for the most part. It’s great party music. I’m mostly into the production but there’s some great lyrics too. I like how minimal the lyrics are at times.

It’s kind of like BMX- you know? There’s some great new stuff but then there’s some stuff that just kinda doesn’t cut it. And sometimes one person does something different that’s dope but then everyone does it and record labels (or whatever that equivalent is in 2017) try and recreate it but it just loses the magic. Kind of like what BMX companies do…

Anyway, semi-related, The new Freddie Gibbs is so good. I feel like he is the best combo of old and new.

-Are you into any conspiracy theories?

Yeah a bit but Trump and his cronies kind of ruined them for me.


–Thanks Nick