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.


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!

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

The Nowhere Box at Selby Community Primary School

In my first picture book, The Nowhere Box, George uses a cardboard box to transport him Nowhere to escape his annoying younger brothers. Nowhere soon becomes a cardboard world of adventure and George has a great time until he begins to feel that the very thing he was escaping is the very thing Nowhere is missing…


The kids at Selby Community Primary School have been reading The Nowhere Box in class and making corrugated cardboard collages in the style of the book, taking George on some incredible new adventures. They were kind enough to share these with me and I am very pleased to be able to share them in turn, here with you (click on the images to enlarge).

Let’s go Nowhere…

Leona and Madison sent George to the moon. I love the pun – ‘spacetacular’!


In the book, George fails to find any dragons, though he does go looking. Sean and Lewis have remedied that by creating this fire-breathing monster. I’m glad they also gave George a sword and shield so he can look after himself.


Sam (great name) has provided George with a colourful cardboard vehicle. Nice work!


Martin sent George somewhere magical, and he looks like he’s having a great time. I love the multi-coloured arch.


Anna, Chloe and Shannan have upped the adventure and got George back in touch with nature in this scene. He looks like he’s about to go exploring a forest…


I love what Lewis and Ryan have done with their composition, especially the little blue windows along the bottom. Brilliant work, guys.


Teagan’s collage is a candy-inspired adventure sure to appeal to anyone passionate about sweets.


Noah has extended George’s rocket-based adventure, taking him to ever greater heights. ‘Epic’ is a great description!


Mateusz and Tomas have included the entire solar system in their collage – impressive.


Wayne and Harry have also sent George ever further spacewards. I really like the little planet Earth in the corner, showing just how far he’s journeyed.


Nowhere is prehistoric for Brandon and Matt, who took George all the way back to the dinosaurs. I’m glad he’s still smiling, some of those dinosaurs look pretty mean…


Alana and Charlye also took George back in time, and even let him hitch a ride on a dinosaur taller than the treetops. I bet the view was magical.


James and Jamie sent George swimming with the dolphins – or is that a shark? Uh-oh…


Thanks SO much to all the kids for their amazing collages. There’s real imagination on display, I’ve loved seeing all the new places George has been. A letter to the class is on its way to you, as well as signed copies of The Nowhere Box.

Are you a teacher who would like to use The Nowhere Box as part of your teaching? Although I’m not available for school visits right now I’ll happily be involved in any other ways I can – responding to the children’s work and things like that – so do get in touch if you’d like to chat things over in more detail.

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!


A Global Tennis Match

The picture below is one of a series of three images commissioned to accompany the 2014 Global Carbon Budget Report, which is published today – right now, in fact.

Among other things the report outlines the planet’s carbon emissions over the last year and the implications for both society and the climate.

To find out more about what the images represent, and the issues raised by the report, visit the project here, and follow the latest updates on Twitter @gcarbonproject. The next pictures in the series will be tweeted over the coming days, as well as posted up here. Stay tuned.

Tennis Match with words

Back to the funEverse

This month I’m excited to have been invited back as a guest illustrator at the funEverse. Throughout July the funEverse poets will be writing original poems in response to pictures from my website and after that schools will have a chance to  get involved and contribute their own responses to the images. Once again I can’t wait to see the different interpretations people come up with. First off is Lesley Moss, who has written a poem inspired by the image below, which is definitely one of the scarier ones I’ve done. See what she came up with here – you’ll be surprised by the ending.

And keep checking back at the funEverse throughout the month to see what the other poets contribute next…