3 Degrees of Inspiration: Olimpia Zagnoli, Tamara Shopsin & Laurel Schwulst


Editor’s Note: This is part 50 in Emily Potts’ inspirational series (previously called “Design Links”). Every other week she features three artists whose work offers fresh, fun, and stimulating creative inspiration. Each artist picks the next link—someone who personally inspires him/her. Check out the forty-ninth part in the series, featuring Ross MacDonald, Alexander Isley & Laurie Rosenwald.

Laurie Rosenwald is inspired by …

Olimpia Zagnoli

I am very jealous of Olimpia. Since 2008, this adorable, millennial stronza, with her big round twiggy eyes and striped shirts, and her primary colors, and her focaccia and estathé, and worst of all, her prodigious talent—gets every fun job I think I should be getting. Some from my most favorite clients. But I cannot possibly dislike her. Porca miseria! She’s too good! That bitch! Not only that, she is generous, charming, and kind. Because, as everyone over 40 knows, I am a decrepit and pathetic has-been. And as everyone under 40 knows, I do not exist. So she tries to introduce yours truly to the groovy young creative directors of the world, because she loves my work. Because of her, I get to teach at Mimaster and draw for The Towner. Her mother made me a perfect espresso and gave me a painted fan!

Some of my favorites include this witty titty T, and the penis plate, from clodomiro, an online shop she runs with her dad.


… and this cover for Tropico del Cancro, published by Feltrinelli. I love the squeaky clean graphic naughtiness and the contrast of roundy and not roundy, and the pancake-like flatness. Sublime!

Olimpia Zagnoli is inspired by …

Tamara Shopsin

I don’t remember when I first met Tamara, but I have the feeling I see her quite often, despite the fact we live in different continents. I knew some of her work before meeting her but I don’t think I had a precise idea of what she did exactly. Tamara is a writer, a designer, an illustrator and a cook says her website. True. But to me she’s also an archeologist, a curious mind that captures all the unusual details on this planet, puts them in a green bag, and saves them for later. Her art reflects this quiet observing spirit but it’s vibrant and clever. She’s a prolific artist who would gladly take a nap.


Mumbai New York Scranton is a book I bought only last year and read on the couch during some hot summer nights. It’s written and illustrated by Tamara with photographs by Jason Fulford. It’s a beautiful book that sometimes feels like a diary but then it’s a book again. I can’t wait for her next book Arbitrary Stupid Goal to come out this Summer for more nights on the red couch with her.


Tamara’s illustrations don’t have a specific style as her expressivity is multiform, but I always recognize it’s her when I see her work in the pages of a magazine or a newspaper (in this case The New York Times), because my brain would stop for a second and then my mouth would bend in a U shape.

Tamara Shopsin is inspired by ….

Laurel Schwulst

She is a design poet who codes. It is hard to pick just two projects to represent Laurel because she works in different mediums across time and space. Her work has what Buckminster Fuller calls pattern integrity. Independent of the medium which Laurel works in you can see her brain waves – the way that you see ripples the same in milk or the ocean.


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Thecreativeindependent.com is super practical. A two year old could navigate it. There is very clear excellent hierarchy of information. Total A++ on function. The site has a simple minimal quality, but as you spend time with it, there are some whimsical elements like changing favicons, sections you can collapse, spirals that spin. These things warm the site up just enough and hint at creativity which is what the content of the site is all about.


This is just Laurel collecting images of animals interacting with machines. This is not practical at all. I don’t know if she even considers this her work. But to me, it is tender, funny, beautiful, awkward, a touch sci fi, and feels like a very good gateway to Laurel’s work.

Tune in next time to see who inspires Laurel!