based in New York . USA
36 years . designer . artist

I graduated in Graphic Design from PUC-Rio, but although I found the city really wonderful, I never identified myself with a beach lifestyle and I ended up moving to São Paulo in 2005 where I majored in Editorial Design.

For 10 years I worked in some of the biggest magazines in Brazil such as Elle, Capricho, Superinteressante and Gloss – for which I gained recognition at the 9th and 10th Brazilian Graphic Design Biennials and was awarded with Magazine of the Year by Prêmio Abril de Jornalismo. But in 2013 this intense editorial environment began to make less and less sense and I decided to start all over again and move to New York to invest in one of my great passions: Typography.

Flavia Zimbardi por Projeto Curadoria
// What tools do you use to express yourself?

I've always had a lot of care doing any manual activity. Planning before starting any drawing was very important, because at the moment I had paper and ink in hand, nothing could go wrong. I think that's why the computer has become a great tool. It's where I find freedom to explore and test different things, refinement is infinitum .

In recent years, I have been trying to get rid of this process "rigidity”. A lot influenced by my husband, Caetano Calomino (excellent Sign Painter and Lettering Artist) who, in addition to have a creative process opposite to mine, always encourages me to get out of the "digital world" and translate what I do into physical things. That's how my Half & Half project turned into the hand-painted and gold-leafed posters.

Flavia Zimbardi por Projeto Curadoria
// What is your biggest motivation to create? What inspires you?

The pursuit of the new and to continue evolving artistically and professionally. But everything around me inspires me in some way. A travel memento, a small detail on the facade of a building, or the way light strikes a certain scene can trigger a flood of ideas.

Flavia Zimbardi por Projeto Curadoria
Flavia Zimbardi por Projeto Curadoria
// What is your creative process like?

Very organized – for better or for worse. There are very clear phases that I rarely afford to distort. That begins with a lot of research and reflection. And only after I glimpse a path, I begin to put ideas on paper. The good part is that execution is usually very fast. After all, it was weeks, months, gathering concepts and shapes in my head.

Clearly, a process greatly influenced by my training as a designer. It's almost as if I am always inventing a problem to solve.

Flavia Zimbardi por Projeto Curadoria
Flavia Zimbardi por Projeto Curadoria
// What do you do in your daily routine to help maintain creativity?

Restless by nature, routine is something I'm always trying to escape. I usually look for new places to tour (even in the city where I live), new TV series to watch, musical releases, exhibitions, or even a reason to invite friends over for a rooftop party. And it certainly helps me not to get crazy looking for something new to create every day. Even more because I like to explore personal projects to its limits, breaking down and mixing with different processes, materials, forms, and then other ideas appear.

And speaking of personal projects, I agree on gender, number and degree with the renowned (and dear) designer Louise Fili who said "I believe that every designer has to have personal projects – it's the only way to grow and find a unique voice”.

Flavia Zimbardi por Projeto Curadoria
Flavia Zimbardi por Projeto Curadoria
// What are you favorite works or projects that you have done? What was the motive?

As a professional, the project I'm most proud of right now is the external signage of Artists & Fleas at Chelsea Market here in New York.

5 years ago, when my husband and I came to the city on vacation, we were very impressed by the quality of most signs made here. Many painted and gilded by hand. And the colorful, vibrant A&F’s facade in Chelsea was certainly one of the most eye-catching. So it's almost surreal, to have our work in the exact same place that also assigned our first international award as a creative duo and studio.

As an artist, the Half & Half series – which explores the many ways a square module can be divided into equal parts – was what made me get out of my comfort zone. It was also the most prolific, with 150 modules / patterns and 20 final pieces created in a year.

Flavia Zimbardi por Projeto Curadoria
// Have you had a decisive moment in your career? How did this influence your trajectory?

Not one. But several. Without a doubt, my career has been a mixture of courageous decisions and happy coincidences. And that second part includes many important and decisive people that influenced the path I followed.

When I decided to do graphic design, my dream was to work with CG and games. But real soon, during my first internship, I realized that I hated the process of animating frame by frame – which generated a great deal of anxiety about what the hell I would do after I graduated.

Flavia Zimbardi por Projeto Curadoria
Flavia Zimbardi por Projeto Curadoria

Months later, I had my first graphic process class, with the incredible Izabel Oliveira, and I fell in love with editorial design. To the point on the last year of college, I put together my first personal project, the newspaper "Design na Real", done about design for designers. A huge milestone that dictated not only what I would do in the next 10 years, but also made me take part of various student meetings that connected me with many talented people, and future great friends.

São Paulo, as I like to say: "This roller coaster with more higher points than low”, was another great mark. That came a little by accident. The idea was to do the Curso Abril and go back to Rio, until I ran across – by the time, art director of Superinteressante, and now creative director of Companhia das Letras – Alceu Nunes, who referred me to a series of freelance work in the company, and a year later invited me to participate in one of the most historical projects of the house – the re-design of Capricho Magazine in 2006. This phase was a lot about finding my own way, which helped me immensely to adaptat living in another country.

And then New York: the most risky decision, that I was more certain at the same time. But since new beginnings are never black in white, I needed one, almost two years experimenting and dedicating myself to personal projects until I decided to apply for the Typeface Design postgraduate program at Cooper Union in 2016. That was when the pieces began to get together and became clear the path I wanted to follow in the typography world.

Flavia Zimbardi por Projeto Curadoria
Flavia Zimbardi por Projeto Curadoria
// Who are your influences, inspirations, or preferred artists? How do they reflect in your own work?

I am a big fan of concrete art, grids and the modular concept, and so I love mixing geometric shapes, patterns and typography in my work. This puzzle of elements that are actually systems, intrigues me a lot. And there are several artists / movements from different areas and periods that I could mention, but I will list 10 that have been more present lately – without any special order: Amilcar de Castro, Lygia Clark, Athos Bulcão, Anni Albers, Gunta Stölzl, Sébastien Truchet, Robert Granjon, WA Dwiggins, Herb Lubalin, Louise Fili.

// Do you think there still exists a bias in relation to women's free expression? Do you feel this in your work?

Undoubtedly this is still an issue, but professionally I have never had problems, and I think its a lot because of the attitude I have always had, to not diminish my work or the time I dedicate to a project. And also for always surrounding myself by strong women and sensitive men.

Flavia Zimbardi por Projeto Curadoria
Flavia Zimbardi por Projeto Curadoria
// What makes you happy?

Live a light life with my husband, in the city we choose to be our home (at least for now), nearby incredible friends and always learning / trying new things: that could be a Bourbon cocktail, a trip or a master's degree.

// What tips could you give to other women to help them bring their creations into reality?

Never wait for the dream job knock on your door. Trust yourself and work hard to earn your space. Be faithful to what you believe, your personality and essence. The rest comes with time.

Flavia Zimbardi por Projeto Curadoria
Flavia Zimbardi por Projeto Curadoria
// Do you have a new project in the works?

Since last October, my biggest project has been to expand my knowledge, and techniques at Type@Cooper. This Monday I presented the rudiments of what will be my first typeface design, and I could not be more proud and excited about how much I’ve learned in such short time, and how much still has to come!

Flavia Zimbardi por Projeto Curadoria