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International Motion Art Awards: Olimpia Zagnoli

By David Schonauer   Thursday June 5, 2014


Olimpia Zagnoli is an illustrator based in Milan who has done work for the New York Times, the New Yorker, Google, Taschen and a number of other publishers. At her website, she notes whimsically that she rides a tiny red bike, likes the Beatles in India, wears stripes, hates blue ink pens, and sends postcards. The band Green Like July also hails from Italy, though it has been described as having a classic American-folk sound. In 2011, Zagnoli directed her first music video, for the band’s song “A Better Man,” which featured Zagnoli’s own hands drawing, organizing everyday items … and writing postcards. In 2013, Zagnoli created another Green Like July video, for the song “Moving to the City,” which she describes as “a postcard sent from a planet populated by creatures with pointed hats, pink ties and round glasses.” This particular missive won anInternational Motion Art Award.

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International Motion Art Awards
Music Video for the Green Like July song “Moving to the City"
By Olimpia Zagnoli

Milan, Italy-based illustrator Olimpia Zagnoli says her artistic style “is characterized by soft shapes and chameleonic colors,” and those qualities are  apparent in her music video for the band Green Like July’s song “Moving to the City.” Zagnoli describes the video as “a postcard sent from a planet populated by creatures with pointed hats, pink ties and round glasses,” and also as “a sequence of illustrations that create an electric scenario inspired by Milan in the ’80s.”

The mesmerizing 2:17 video is a study in color and repetition. “To realize it,” Zagnoli says, “I created a series of digital illustrations which I gave some simple movements. The result is basically a sequence of animated GIFs that take the song to a dancing and electric universe.” She created the artwork with Adobe Illustrator, did the animation in Photoshop, and then edited the video with iMovie.


Zagnoli has a special spot in her heart for postcards, as she notes at her website. They play a central role in her first music video, for the Green Like July song “A Better Man.” That video, Zagnoli told the New Yorker,“is about the end of a relationship, narrated through a series of short episodes and memories—like lost pictures found in an old drawer. I’m really attracted to that sort of hidden magic that lives behind common objects and everyday life in general. I chose objects that surround me everyday, like brushes, shopping lists, or cups of tea; but also the ones I’m really attached to, like old postcards, love letters, maps of cities I’ve lived in, or my mom’s favorite plant.”

Even with these notable videos under her belt, Zagnoli says she doesn’t consider herself a filmmaker. “I’m an illustrator, so I’m new to these kinds of experiments,” she says. “I just like to see things move and make illustrations dance away from the page.”

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