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Between the lyrics of the band Television’s ‘Venus’ and the autobiographical pages of American writer John Fante, are born the illustrations of the young artist Olimpia Zagnoli, who built her own career on super pop shapes, patterns and colours. Let’s follow in Olimpia’s footsteps to get to know her story…
Olimpia, when did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in the arts?
There was no telltale moment. I think I’ve always had a visual curiosity and predisposition to artistic expressions.
Let’s go back to my first question. What was the most defining moment in your art career?
To be honest, I don’t really know. If I think about the lived experiences again, I see the last years as a never-ending succession of more or less interesting projects and collaborations, source of both personal and professional growth. Of course, the most stressful moments alternate with more relaxed ones, moments of research and inspiration.
You studied illustration at the Milanese branch of the 'IED-Istituto Europeo di Design’. In the field of the art education, what would you change and improve?
The problem with these art schools is that they’re technical, too technical. The fundamental notions are often neglected (for example, the general knowledge, the visual references, the act of plunging into the real world). When I get to teach, I realize the most interesting works are often realized by people who embarked on a path that’s different from the illustration one. In fact, by drawing from different and faraway worlds, they interpret reality in a unique way.
That being said, what difficulties have you had to face along your journey?
Like all of us, I had to understand how to deal with all those bureaucratic aspects, that I had completely been ignoring and, by the way, I hadn’t been realizing it was an integral part of a freelance job. I’m often swamped with invoices to be made, e-mails and phone calls to be answered…in these situations, it’s almost impossible to find time and just draw!
With your father, Emilian photographer Miro Zagnoli, you founded ‘CLODOMIRO’, an inclusive brand that’s about both love and erotism. How could your products be described? And your customers?
We launched CLODOMIRO with an idea of working together on a project that had its roots in our interest for design, but approaching it in a light and "homemade” way. Erotism was chosen as starting point, but we often talk about love in a broader sense. Our products are made with care and, for each product, we collaborate with craftsmen (mostly, Italian), using our taste as compass. Our customers are very ironic people, who can understand the nature of the project, appreciating the cultural references. They aren’t “shoppers gone crazy”, but they patiently wait for the new products to come out.
ou’ve worked for many international companies (among these, Apple, Fiat and Barilla), but what has been your most exciting work experience?
I often cite my experience with MTA Arts & Design, that invited me to create a poster for the New York City subway, as one of the most engaging. The image was affixed on the trains and platforms of the metropolitan system and every day thousands of people walked past it. I’ve received many e-mails from the commuters and occasional patrons; creating a contact with all these people, through a project that was realized in the aloneness of my Milanese studio, has been exciting.
And what has challenged you? An experience that has put you to the test?
To be honest, each and every time I meet some disrespectful clients I’m put to the test. All those clients who demand changes on changes and don’t trust any judgement coming from other people. Those who, in front of a refusal, keep on insisting. Those who think that their project is brilliant and that you must be looking forward to being part of it. Those who don’t pay.
What’s always in your bag?
Pens, lipsticks and…candy wrappers!
You realized, with Italian brand Marella, a capsule collection entitled ‘OZFEVER’, that was recently awarded by the Society of Illustrators. Would you tell us about this project?
OZFEVER is the third collection realized with Marella. This capsule collection is born from our will to celebrate the feminine irony and courage with an explosion of multi-coloured patterns. The capsule collection OZFEVER, that is made up of T-shirts, bags, poodle skirts, shorts, sunglasses and shirts, is a prime example of how serene and productive the collaboration with Marella has been so far, we all have a great desire to experiment!
What do you always forget to pack?
At 4 years old, you met U.S. artist Keith Haring, who gave you a small pin…do you still own it? And besides your big, round glasses, would this be the accessory you wouldn’t be able to part with?
Yes, of course. As I’m afraid of losing the original pin, I have a copy attached to my coat.
A wish for the future of the Italian creative scene?
I hope there will be less copies of the copies of the copies and more artists ready to experiment with new forms or visual languages.
Printed silk blouse
Tangle leather crossbody bag
Printed pleated skirt
Leather slingback ballet flat
Cotton-blend open-knit pullover
We could define her as the Clark Kent of the fashion world: booker for an important, Milan-based modeling agency by day, entertainer of the Instagram era by night.
‘My body is my temple’. That’s one of the mantras of the Lithuanian illustrator Egle Zvirblyte, who built her artistic career on important themes, such as identity and female power.
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