Penguins Penguins Penguins

Happy new year! Here are a few more images I did for ‘The Man Who Wanted to be a Penguin‘, to be used in promotional materials and a booklet accompanying the production, which will be touring soon.


Something wicked this way comes…


This is the teaser image I’ve provided for BalletLORENT, the dance company I was lucky enough to work with on their production of Snow White, who are completing their trilogy gothic fairy tales with Rumpelstiltskin, premiering this October.

On 20th February they are holding a fundraising event for their community cast project, which is all about getting children and older people involved in theatre. Further details and tickets are available here.

The whole production is in its early stages and it’s going to be very exciting to see how it unfolds and what the company do with the story, and the Rumpelstiltskin character… I, for one, cannot wait.

You I and the Sky

This is the artwork I created for You I and the Sky, the debut album from Clark and Zuppardi, a foot-stomping UK bluegrass duo of which my esteemed brother forms one half.

I love collaborating with him and, given my musical ability is sorely lacking, it was exciting to have this chance to be involved in the project in a way that did not require me to play an instrument.


We wanted the artwork to capture something of the distinctively sky-dominated Norfolk landscape that is the duo’s home whilst also evoking a sense of the open-road American bluegrass tradition from which their music draws its inspiration.

The album is out very soon, you can watch them performing an exclusive track here, and it can already be purchased in digital form here. happy listening!





More about the album:

Blending original compositions infused with a passion for bluegrass and old time music with traditional songs and tunes the debut release from this acoustic duo showcases a uniquely transatlantic take on the American traditions of bluegrass and Appalachian mountain music respectively, strongly influenced by their own British origins. The album features an original repertoire of tunes and songs of their own composition, alongside a selection of tracks from the likes of The Carter Family, old time instrumentals, and a rendition of a shape note piece from the Sacred Harp songbook.

Both seasoned instrumentalists in their own right, the duo have developed their own unique sound with clawhammer banjo, tenor guitar, mandolin and guitar. Nic Zuppardi regularly performs with BBC-folk award nominee Dan Walsh, and is a third of the Georgia Shackleton Trio. Adam Clark is also one half of Nobodaddy, and has worked with a huge range of artists from Mobo award-winner Zara McFarlane to West African ‘Griot’ Sefo Kanuteh.



Radio On #2 – competition

Radio On is an independent, music-themed comic strip anthology of short stories. I contributed a story to #1, which came out last year.

Excitingly, #2 is out now,  with 6 exclusive stories and a wraparound cover.


My own contribution this time round is ‘Professor Valdemar’s Final Experiment’, a darkly comic tale that wonders what our souls might sound like if they could be turned into music…

Here’s a sneak preview:

Professor Valdemar Page 1

Both issue are available to buy here, for a mere pittance, but I also have 3 copies to give away absolutely free. To get hold of one, all you have to do is answer the following questions:

The main character in my story takes his name from another character in a short story by a famous gothic writer. Which writer is it, and what is the story in question?

To answer, find me on Facebook (search Sam Zuppardi Illustrator) and send me a message detailing your answer, along with your postal address. (UK entries only, I’m afraid). The first 3 correct responses will all receive a copy of #2.

Good luck, and happy listening!

Bear and Butterfly

Another trip to the theatre this week, this time to Theatre Hullabaloo, a company that makes, tours and promotes theatre productions for young audiences.

Their latest production, Bear and Butterfly, combines puppetry, live music and beautiful storytelling to tell a charming tale about love, loss and friendship.

It opened last week and tours until Christmas Eve, be sure to catch it. Here’s the poster I designed for them.

Bear and Butterfly

Snow White

A couple of years ago I saw an amazing production of Rapunzel by dance company balletLORENT, at Newcastle’s Northern Stage theatre. I was so inspired I went home and drew these pictures.

So I was hugely excited to learn recently that it was the first part of a proposed trilogy of fairytale adaptations, and that the next one – Snow White – was touring soon. I was even more excited when the company contacted me and asked if I would like to attend a preview performance and do a couple of illustrations for their programme.

With sketchpad and pencils I went along last Friday and was spoilt for choice in terms of arresting images to draw. balletLORENT’s Snow White – in a clever retelling by Carol Ann Duffy – is a powerful, visceral experience that uses a mesmerising mix of music and dance to tap into something primal and highly emotive.

Like Rapunzel before it, it is dark and evocative and not short of the distinctive visual flourishes that made that production so hauntingly memorable. No bumbling, cuddly dwarves here, instead a gaggle of gangly, sharp-edged miners, twisted and bent out of shape through years of toiling in the mines. Beautifully choreographed and performed, I think their scenes were my stand-out moments.

But there was no shortage to choose from – like the wild and seriously monstrous woods, the haunting magic mirror or the ongoing dance between Snow White and her mother, slowly soured by envy. I should also mention the stonking soundtrack by Murray Gold, which, interwoven with Lindsay Duncan’s elegant narration, holds everything together and ensures you can feel the beat of the dance in your very bones. The show opens 16th October and tours through the winter. I strongly urge you to catch it. The programme’s not bad either.

Snow White ballet lorent

Interior Title Page

Snow White Miners ballet lorent

Kids’ Colouring Page

All Aboard – Darlington Civic Theatre

I was recently asked to design a feedback board for Darlington Civic Theatre. The idea was to create a space where theatre-goers – children especially – could respond to the things they saw.

It needed to incorporate a white, wipe-clean section where theatre staff could write up regular questions, and a large blank area which would be magnetic, allowing theatre visitors to stick their answers to the question – written on luggage labels – to the board.

As well as this the board was to feature a train-station theme drawn from the theatre’s fascinating history, which saw the actors who played at the theatre in its early days brought into town on the same train that delivered the fish. Inside, the train was to carry important characters from the theatre’s history – including its Victorian founder, Signor Rino Pepi, a flamboyant Italian quick-change artist, famed for a 15-minute sketch in which he played all 7 characters – both male and female.

Also round the edge of the board there was to be an illustration representing families visiting the theatre and the stage props and luggage of the actors arriving for the latest production. Here are some of those details from the board…



And here’s the final design, which also incorporates an art-deco style frame reminiscent of the classic styling of some of the theatre’s own vintage production posters.

Board for Blog

Finally, here is the board itself proudly in position, and kindly modelled by a mystery member of the theatre staff…

Full-steam ahead!


Graphs or Cartoons – which works better?

Here are the next images accompanying the 2014 Global Carbon Budget Report.

They constitute somewhat of an experiment for the team behind the report, as cartoons have not been used to communicate the research before. There’s an interesting article here unpicking in more detail what the images represent, and also discussing the potential for cartoons to provide an effective alternative/complement to diagrams as a means of communicating complex ideas in simplified form. In fact, if you follow the link you are also invited to offer your own thoughts on whether you feel the experiment has worked… So do cartoons have a place in scientific research? What might they offer that diagrams can’t, and vice versa? 

You can follow latest updates from the project on twitter @gcarbonproject

A Race