Olimpia Zagnoli is an Italian illustrator known all over the world: born in Reggio Emilia in 1984, she lives and works in Milan and collaborates with major newspapers and international magazines like The New Yorker, The Guardian and The Washington Post, as well as Italian publications such as Internazionale and La Repubblica. Her style, with its curved lines and contrasting saturated colors, is immediately recognisable.
Every two months BASE houses an artist selected by Illustri, an association that brings together established and up-and-coming illustrators. The artists spend a week with us, staying at casaBASE, working in the burò, BASE Milano’s project house, and getting involved in life at BASE and the initiatives underway. The creative outcome of the residency then becomes the poster for the BASE magazine.
OLIMPIA ZAGNOLI’S WUNDER KIT
We asked Olimpia to introduce herself and talk us through her creative inspirations by means of a few cherished objects. Watch the full interview.
The first object is a photo of my aura that was taken in a new age shop in Chinatown. It’s become a ritual of mine when I’m in New York to get my aura photographed and have someone tell me how I’m doing. It reminds me how important it is to stop for a moment and focus on the colour we give off, not in a literal sense, but to reflect on who we are and rid ourselves of all the ingrained habits that stop us from seeing new creative possibilities.
I have a puppet of Olive Oyl from Popeye which represents my search for an alternative female role model. As a little girl it wasn’t Barbie with all the pink and glitter that made me smile, but Olive Oyl with her thin, awkward figure. I think that throughout my life I have realized that what the world expects from me as a girl is very different from what I expect to give the world.
I’ve also brought a watch designed by Mendini for Ollo, the “messageless magazine”. It inspires me to infuse my work with irony, which is a fundamental form of communication, and to look at projects with as much openness as possible: a piece of design can be sold at the newsagent, a two-dimensional pattern can become three-dimensional in fashion.
If I had to give a young illustrator a good-luck charm, I would give them Xanax. Not necessarily to take, but as a keyword. You need to feel calm and patient, and focus more on the process than the final result.