Olimpia Zagnoli and Joshua Kissi on how to push your creativity further
The Italian illustrator and the LA-based photographer and director are our two most recent guests on the It’s Nice That Podcast. Each of them has taken a leap out of their creative comfort zone in the past year, and here, they share some learnings from the process.
When it comes to our jobs, no matter what industry we work in, we all have those tasks that we know we can do well, those requests we know we can fulfil to a high standard with relative ease. In all walks of life, but particularly when it comes to creativity, after a while comfort zones can become stultifying. One way to avoid this is obviously to push yourself into trying new things and experimenting with new creative avenues.
Two people who know this better than most are Olimpia Zagnoli and Joshua Kissi. The Italian illustrator and the LA-based photographer and director have both recently been guests on the It’s Nice That Podcast, and both spoke openly about the challenges that come with exploring new creative pathways.
In our fourth episode, Olimpia Zagnoli talked to our senior editor Lucy Bourton about her growing urge to explore the “spaces between” different disciplines and how this has led her to exciting new creative territory. “Seeing the combination of life and design is very interesting for me,” she says, whether that’s seeing her designs ripple on the folds of a skirt or wheeled into an airport on a suitcase. She discusses the vulnerability that comes with moving from illustrating in 2D to beginning to think three-dimensionally. But, embracing that, she has learnt to “de-structure” what she knows and “invent a new dimension” to her work. Now she feels magnetically drawn to unfamiliar disciplines and is set to display a series of paintings in an exhibition later this year.
Following this boundary-crossing thread, Olimpia tells us about her creative influences and explains why she can often find more inspiration in the work of a chef or a gardener than when she turns to the work of other illustrators. She also shares her holistic approach to research, something that we can all learn from. From reading a few pages of a novel to (our favourite) eating a pastry – it’s all research, according to Olimpia: “If you focus on the flavour or the emotion it’s giving you – it can be turned into a certain atmosphere and that can be used in your work.”
In Episode 5, we talk to Joshua Kissi about taking the leap from photography into directing and moving image. The multi-talented creative discusses the joys of directing a Superbowl ad for Google Pixel 6, after just a couple of years’ experience in the world of directing. “All of this started when I realised that if my images were able to move, then I’d be able to impact more people,” he tells our editor-in-chief Matt Alagiah. Despite making it look easy and having a whole host of transferable skills, Joshua has felt intimidated at times. “There is a lot more pressure with all this expensive equipment and big crews,” he says. “In every single way, the stakes are higher.”
Mostly, though, he’s excited by the challenges and he’s enjoying flexing different creative muscles, working out the “dance between photography and motion”. With big ambitions to become an expert story-teller across both disciplines, the creative has loads of good advice for young photographers hoping to do the same. Among other wise tips, he urges us to “continue to chase the things that make you uncomfortable in the best ways”.
Accompanying our latest episodes, we also have two new additions to our collection of Nice Notes – voice notes sent to us from some of our favourite artists and designers around the world. To be transported to a glowing sunset in New York’s Hudson River Park or to a wonderful little people-watching spot in West London, tune in to the latest episodes of the It’s Nice That Podcast!
If you want to hear a longer version of the podcast, featuring extended interviews with Olimpia and Joshua, you can do so by signing up to Extra Nice, It’s Nice That’s membership programme. This is just one of the many benefits and goodies you get by being an Extra Nice member. To find out more, head over to the Extra Nice pages of our website.
#004 Olimpia Zagnoli
For Episode 4 of the new podcast, our senior editor Lucy Bourton sits down with Italian illustrator and artist Olimpia Zagnoli, and discusses the power of vulnerability and the importance of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. We also hear about how Olimpia tackles research and where she goes searching for inspiration and new references. After that, we head over to West London to hear how a bustling cafe helps comic illustrator Lily Kong come up with her best ideas. To hear a longer version of our interview with Olimpia, sign up to Extra Nice.
#005 Joshua Kissi
In this fifth episode of the podcast, our editor-in-chief Matt Alagiah sits down with the acclaimed LA-based photographer and director Joshua Kissi. He discusses how he has approached the move from still photography to moving-image work, and talks us through some top tips on how to deal with the pressure of a big budget and crew. We also head to New York’s Tribeca district to hear from Margot Lévêque, a French type designer who has just moved to the Big Apple. To hear a longer version of our interview with Joshua, sign up to Extra Nice.