Artist Profile: Olimpia Zagnoli - Milan


Hi Olimpia! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Olimpia and I’m an illustrator based in Milan, Italy.

What is your background (i.e. education, previous jobs, experiences that led you to create)?
I’ve grown up in a creative family, my mom is an artist and my dad is a photographer. I’ve always wanted to be like them, but different. 

Growing up in an artistic family, did you always feel drawn to be an illustrator or were you interested in other art forms? When did illustration become your career?
I’ve always loved to transform my visions into images. I also knew that I wanted to be able to be independent so commercial illustration seemed like the most natural and appealing choice. 


What made you want to go to New York to pursue your artwork? Did it live up to your expectations?
I tried to work in Italy, but in the beginning of my career it was quite hard. Only a few people replied to my emails, gave me the chance to show my portfolio or assigned me some jobs and I wasn’t able to sustain myself so I decided to go to New York for a while and it helped a lot. 

Now that you are back in Italy, do you travel often for your work? What type of environment do you thrive in?
I’ve always lived in Italy and traveled to New York occasionally and I still do. Sometimes when I feel like I need to find new inspiration, I book a ticket to a foreign country like Mexico or Argentina to soak in some new colors and atmosphere. 

Could you tell us more about your work with The Jaunt? How did that relationship come about?
Jeroen got in contact with me a few years ago and proposed me to go on a trip. I picked Japan because I had never been, but then in the end I couldn’t make it because I had too much work. So we kept postponing it until now! 


You're headed to Tromsø, Norway in collaboration with The Jaunt. What are you most excited about for your trip? 
I usually like to travel to big cities because I’m attracted by their culture, people, museums, libraries, shops etc… so this time I wanted to try something different. I’ve been wanting to see the Northern Lights for such a long time because it looks like pure magic. So I really hope I’ll be able to see at least a tiny bit of that and then I'm looking forward to being alone in the snow for a while. 

Are you someone that plans ahead for travel or do you like to jump in without an agenda?
I like to plan plan plan plan and then forget about the plans when I’m there. 

Where do you draw inspiration from?
Every little thing. It could be a fly on the window, a movie from the ‘50s or the feeling of being far from home. 


What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
The fact that it get to choose the way I want to communicate my inner world and that it makes me independent.

What are some of the setbacks or challenges you face in your work?
Being alone in this is definitely challenging at times and everything seems to fall like a Jenga tower from time to time. 

At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other?
I think it’s important to support other talents and hard-working people despite their gender, color, sexual orientation, age. Women know how hard it can be to be heard and respected in the world and in a working environment for other women, so I think it’s essential that we support each other along the way and help each other overcome those difficulties, speak up for ourselves and educate ourselves and others. 


What creative women do you find inspiring?
Too many, just scrolling through my Instagram account: Shirley Kurata, my sister Emilia Zagnoli, Andrea Zittel, Carson Ellis, Desiree Akhavan and Cecilia Frugiuele, Joana Avillez, Johanna Goodman, Kim Hastreiter, Tina Roth Eisenberg, Paola Antonelli, Alice Rawsthorn, Kathleen Hanna...

Do you have any resources that have been helpful to you that we should know of?
Books, museums and conversations with my mom. 

How do you manage your time?
I do a thousand things at the same time. 


How do you deal with moments of self doubt?
I know the solution will come, I usually wait patiently for it to arrive. And sometimes I freak out. 

What are you trying to learn right now?
How to say more NOs. 

What are some of your favorite places in Milan?
Triennale Design Museum, Casa Museo Boschi Di Stefano, Planetario Ulrico Hoepli