Creating quirky illustrations with her unique wit and perception of human situations, Italian artist Olimpia Zagnoli has wow’d the world with her zesty art. Her fun sensations has appeared in Psychologies, Internazionale, the New York Times, Marie Claire and the New Yorker. She’s taken the time from her whirlwind of events to settle and talk to us about her favorite cartoon, the likes of Italian extraordinaire Bruno Munari and Gianni Rodari and how she wants to help the world.
Your red eyeglasses have become part of your persona as well as being graphically part of your logo. What type of relationship do you have with them?
Considering the fact that I’d be blind without them, the relationship I have with my eyeglasses is definitely pathological. Graphically speaking, I like my characters to wear glasses because it makes them look smarter. Also, I’m not very good at drawing eyes.
What was your favorite cartoon or comic book growing up as a kid?
I used to love La Pimpa, a red-dotted dog created by Altan and Pollon, a greek-mythology inspired TV series.
Your illustrations besides being amazing, are able to highlight some very complex and specific traits/features in a rather simple way. Can you share with us what is your thought process, or the approach that leads to such amazing results?
More than focusing on what I want to illustrate I usually begin by getting rid of what I can’t illustrate. I’m not one of those people who can draw more or less everything so I tend to avoid concepts who require technical difficulties such as prospective or articulate layers. Then the fun part begins and I get to play with shapes and colors!
What would be the most amazing thing you would want to do to help the world?
Steal from the rich and give to the poor.
How much of your Italian background gets into your work? What do you like about the Italian culture and what do you dislike?
Big hearts, soft women and striped t-shirts are some examples of how my italianity sneaks into my work sometimes. What I love about Italy is generally related to the aesthetic of the country, the taste of its food and the feeling of being close the people I love. What I hate about Italy is basically everything else.
What is your favorite place in the world, and in which type of place/environment do you get most stimulated in terms of creativity?
I don’t have a favorite place cause i love little bits from everywhere. I love the roofs of Brooklyn as well as the churches of Palermo, the flea-markets in Paris or the museums in London. In terms of creativity i like to work in a space with light, plants and birds singing and i like to think on trains.
I know working with the New Yorker must have been an absolute dream come true for you. Your illustrations are quite lovely. Are there any other publications you would like your work to be featured in? Are there any projects you want to get your hands on in the future?
I would love to work on something not strictly related to illustration. Something different such as textile, pottery or video. I opened a little shop with my dad called Clodomiro.com that will display some of these experiments. In terms of clients, everything can get me excited. The more unusual it is, the better.
Do you feel the observations you collected as a child from the books and illustrations of Italian artist Bruno Munari and writer Gianni Rodari were better instructors than what you learned in art school?
Saying yes would sound very snob, but YES.
What are the most difficult or noteworthy lessons you’ve learned as a freelance illustrator?
That it’s not only rock’n'roll. You have to be very serious most of the times, wake up at decent hours, respect the deadlines, fill your invoices, talk on the phone in different languages, pay the rent and be creative at the same time.
If there was one period in history you’d like to travel back to, what would it be?
Oh, I would love to see the Sixties.