Feast Your Eyes on Olimpia Zagnoli’s Graphic Illustrations

One thing is clear: Olimpia Zagnoli doesn’t shy away from color. Her graphic illustrations rely on bold contrasts and dramatic color palettes, attracting clients like Fendi, the Guggenheim Museum, and even the New York subway system.

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Impromptu self-portrait for a soon-to-be book

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Like most creative types, she discovered her artistic spirit early on. Born into an artistic family in Milan didn’t hurt either. “I started drawing at a young age; it was a good meditation for me,” she recalled in an interview with The Great Discontent.

“There were so many personalities and egos in the family because we’re all artists, so I needed to find my own space to make. In the beginning, it was the floor in my room where I would lay down and draw and invent stories for hours and hours.”

She quickly outgrew her humble beginning, and since graduating from Istituto Europeo di Design (the European Institute of Design) she’s been hard at work. “I did do some very small works, but at some point, I decided I needed to try getting work somewhere else,” said Zagnoli.

“That’s when I went to New York for the first time. I only had a few contacts in the US and somehow, I got the email of Brian Rea, who was the art director for the New York Times’ Op-Ed at the time. I emailed him, but was sure he wouldn’t respond. He gave me an appointment to come show him my portfolio and that’s how it started.”

Now back in Milan, she drives a Vespa and wears large round glasses – clearly embracing her artistic persona. “Unfortunately, what I do is create images and images don’t literally feed anyone, but perhaps they could feed someone’s eyes, which is a pretty big responsibility for a bunch of lines and colors,” she says. “That’s why I always try to put my heart into my work and preserve my vision without compromising it.”

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Ieri è uscito “L’omino di niente”, una storia tratta da “Favole al telefono” di Gianni Rodari, pubblicata per la prima volta nel 1962 e illustrata originariamente da Bruno Munari. Il racconto parla di un omino di niente che, indossando scarpe di niente, si avventura su una strada di niente che non va in nessun posto. È difficile illustrare il niente. Per giorni ho pensato a come poterlo rappresentare. Tutto bianco? Trasparente? A puntini? Con i buchi? Sembra un concetto troppo astratto per poterlo afferrare. Allora mi sono venute in mente alcune occasioni in cui il niente assume un aspetto che ricordiamo: quando c’è tanta nebbia, quando si spegne la luce all’improvviso, quando a teatro prima dello spettacolo davanti a noi c’è solo un sipario rosso, quando capitiamo su una pagina web che non esiste o quando nei vecchi televisori saltava il segnale. In questi casi il niente ha un colore, un suono, una forma. Così ho cercato di interpretare il tema a modo mio, creando una serie di silhouettes riconoscibili che contenessero un po’ di questo niente ipnotico e ripetitivo che respinge e avvicina come una porta verso un mondo parallelo • “The little man of nothing” a short tale from “Telephone tales” by Gianni Rodari (published for the first time in 1962 and illustrated originally by Bruno Munari) was released yesterday. It’s the story of a little man of nothing with shoes of nothing who strolls on a road of nothing that takes him nowhere. It’s hard to illustrate nothingness. For days i’ve wondered how to represent it. All white? Transparent? Dotted? With holes? It seems too much of an abstract concept to grasp. Then i thought of some occasions in which nothingness appears in way that we recognize: when it’s very foggy outside, when the lights suddenly turn off, at the theatre before the play when there’s only a red curtain before us, when we end up on a web page that doesn’t exist or when an old tv loses its signal. In these cases nothingness has a color, a sound, a shape. So i tried to interpret this subject creating a series of familiar silhouettes that contain a little of this hypnotic and repetitive nothing that repels and attracts like a door to a parallel world •

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Buongiorno Milano @uniqlo_it

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