Art Nerd New York | Los Angeles Interviews Lori Zimmer

I sat down with the folks over at for an interview about curating PAPER VIEW, working as a curator, and tips I have for artists. Thanks to Moo, and don’t forget to vote for your favorite artist from the 5 I curated over at SCOPE’s Instagram.


Alongside her roles as a media director, events planner, editor-in-chief and all-round artist advocate, Lori Zimmer is the first of our guest curators for Paper View, our 2015 content series in partnership with SCOPE. We snatched some time in her busy schedule to discover more about her passions for paper and pulverized refrigerators, and how on earth she manages to stay sane with so much going on.

Hello Lori! So tell us, what brought you to the paper art world and what do you find so compelling about it? 

As the Art Editor for design weblog, I see my fair share of paper art and I’ve long been fascinated by the artists’ ability to transform an everyday medium into something greater – fine art.

Then last year, my appreciation of the versatility of the humblest of materials was boosted by my research for the forthcoming book, The Art of Cardboard: Big Ideas for Creativity, Collaboration, Storytelling and Reuse. It’s always amazing to see a sculpture that appears to have been crafted from a heavier or more durable medium, but is actually the result of layers of carefully folded sheets of paper.


And beyond paper, what kind of art do you gravitate towards?

A mix, really. I’m a huge art history buff, but when it comes to contemporary work it’s all about the experiential. I love a piece I can walk through or look into, a piece I can feel and be a part of.

What do you think a budding artist needs to do to create a name for themselves? Should they be thinking about their ‘brand’?

Absolutely. Marketing yourself is as important as creating beautiful work, but art schools rarely teach their students this. A great website and promotional materials are must-haves, and it’s essential to get involved in the art world network. Invite an artist or group you admire to a studio visit and support fellow creatives by attending their events, too. Creating a support system will not only help you to promote your work, but also give you a team to move forward with.

What are some of the challenges and opportunities currently facing artists and how can these be addressed? 

The internet both helps and hinders. An online presence gives you access to so many things, but it’s easy to drown in the overabundance of other artists. The solution to this is to step away from the computer and forge real-life relationships. Your art may get you through the door, but your connections will keep you going.

You’re the first of our Paper View guest curators. What does it take to be a good curator and what would be your dream project?

When I started out I didn’t fully understand the creativity in curation. It’s not just about picking an artist you like, it’s about telling a story through the visuals of others. That story could be as simple as showing the limits of a particular medium, or as complex as illustrating an art historical narrative through a collection of works. The best curators recognize that shows are about expression and sharing a vision, not sales.

I’d love to curate a show somewhere historical like Versailles. The combination of palatial surroundings, a controversial past and decadent design is the stuff of dreams.

On top of being a curator, you have a good few other roles on the go. How did you come to wear so many hats and how do you balance your multiple responsibilities?

With difficulty – the secret is not to think about it! Joking aside, after working for someone else in a gallery I decided that the freedom of working for myself was worth the struggle and lack of sleep. And being told I wouldn’t make it made me all the more determined.

Starting as a freelance writer, I was then asked to curate something at SCOPE New York. I realized the strength in my network of artists and it grew from there. Having dealt with my fair share of difficult people, I made it my mission to be as helpful as possible and I really think that’s the key to my success – and my happiness. That and the freedom to work wherever I choose (I only need the internet). I’m not rich, but I make it work, not least because the thought of writing a resumé or answering to an angry boss again shakes me to the core!

In your opinion, what is the relationship between art and design and where do they intersect?  

I often feel that the art world is afraid of the design world. Or, at least, there’s always a disclaimer: designers create objects and artists create sculpture and other forms of fine art. But did you know that Salvador Dali designed the Chupa Chups logo?

I see art and design as a whole, albeit with a certain degree of separation. In my home you’ll find paintings alongside antique signs and framed wallpaper side-by-side with pastels. I derive inspiration from both art and design, and feel artists and designers share the same genius. Art fairs like SOFA Art & Design in Chicago and the incredible Design Miami serve to celebrate precisely this.

And to round things off, who are your design heroes and why? 

As with art, my design inspirations are a mixed bag. Sebastian Errazuriz can do no wrong in my eyes, blurring the lines of art and design with perfection. I love seeing trash transformed into creative masterpieces and furniture designer Dirk van der Kooj blows my mind with his 3D printed chairs upcycled from pulverized refrigerators. Then there’s Milton Glaser, whose I Heart NY logo is the single most amazing example of graphic design ever. And finally Philippe Starck, who can turn his hand equally as well to faucets, kettles, headphones and buildings. Things that might be worlds apart, but are all recognizably and cohesively Starck. See, I told you it was a mixed bag!


For more on the five artists Lori’s picked for her Paper View collection, click here. And if you found our chat with Lori interesting and would like to hear from someone else in the design world, just let us know in the comments below – we’ll see what we can do!

2 Responses to “ Interviews Lori Zimmer”
  1. wonderful…learn more about u all the time..

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