2020 Official Zozobra Artists

The Official 2020 Zozobra Poster and Official T-shirt Contest was open to artists of all ages, and New Mexico artists rose to the occasion This year, the weird conjunction of Zozobra and the coronavirus resulted in a bevy of fascinating  artwork that made it harder than ever for our jury to choose the winners and a Zozobra-sized thank you goes to everyone who entered!

The  Zozobra art contest is centered on that cranky giant with the ginormous ego, Zozobra! The pleasure of creating a personal vision of Zozobra is an even hotter thrill when the winning artists see their artwork on hundreds of collectible posters and T-shirts, which are available for purchase at this link!

The 2020 Zozobra Poster was designed by Joshua Gonzales.

Joshua's design captures Zozobra perfectly and his backstory tells why: As far back as I can remember my sister and I would build our own "Zazobra" to burn for our parents, grandparents, and cousins in La Cienega.

I thought the poster artwork was amazing and my family would gift one to me on an annual basis. I was already deeply invested in creating my artwork and those posters gave me the essential inspiration growing up. After graduating from Capital High School in 1998 I moved to the Bay Area to attend Notre Dame de Namur University where I earned my BA in Art & Graphic Design.

After honing my style in California, I moved back to Santa Fe in 2014. The past few years I had seen the call for artists to submit artwork. I had wanted to submit something for a while and was finally motivated because of the 1980's theme. My fascination with Zozobra was ignited during that decade, so how special was this?! It is with extreme gratitude and excitement that my piece was selected as the Official 2020 Zozobra Poster.

Find Joshua on Instagram at @JoshuaG and see his work on his website at huagraphics.com  and be sure to downloadthe RealityX2 animation app that brings Joshua's poster to life.

The 2020 Zozobra T-shirt was designed by Daniel McCoy.

The 2020 T-shirt design by Daniel McCoy is a keeper! Prepare to be amazed when you see the animation!

Daniel's artist's statement tells you more about his method and motivation: At the present, I am producing paintings solely for the effort of timekeeping. I paint so I can leave an imprint of my existence. I enjoy the process immensely. I re-create past triumphs, current disasters, as well as inspiring stories in my works. I work with Oils, Enamels, Acrylics and Inks in various combinations.

Daniel McCoy (Muscogee Creek / Citizen Band Potawatomi) was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Welcomed into a household of Artisans, Farmers, Music and Subculture, Daniel was surrounded with the arts from an early age. McCoy began entering Native Art Competitions at age fifteen under the direction of Cherokee Artist, Mary Adair while attending boarding school in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. He received his formal Art Training at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At the Institute, Daniel McCoy jr. was able to study and work with some of the best Native Artists in the field.

Daniel worked under the direction of Commercial artist Chuck Osborne for seven years in Tulsa, Oklahoma painting television backdrops, hand designed billboards, custom signs, and automotive graphics. Daniel was able to learn a technical skill set that art school and College could not implant. In 2000, McCoy decided to make the move back to New Mexico to continue his career as a painter.

Daniel continues to work now in the southwest. His focus in the upcoming years will be to produce monumental life works. He currently resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his family.


  • Br. CM Simon SJ Award, Red Cloud Heritage Center, 2017
  • 1st place, AIHEC Spring Conference, Albuquerque NM. 2015
  • Oscar Howe Innovation Award. Red Cloud Heritage Center, 2013
  • Honorable Mention. 2013 Swaia Indian Market.
  • 2nd Place. 2012 Swaia Indian Market.
  • 1st Place. 2011 Swaia Indian Market.
  • 1st Place. 2005 Eiteljorg Museum.
  • Best of Show. 1993 Tulsa Indian Art Festival.

The 2020 Student Zozobra Poster was designed by Estrella Romero.

Estrella has been a serious Zozobra fan for quite some time! She created her own Zozobra jacket and has even dressed as Zozobra for Halloween.  This young lady is one dedicated Zozobra fan!

Learn more about this talented young artist:

My name is Estrella Romero, and I am 12 years old. I was born in Santa Fe, NM. I like having cookouts with my family and going camping and spending family time together. I am a very nice and talkative person. I love to make new friends and enjoy riding bikes and shopping at the mall. I also love playing basketball and would like to learn how to play volleyball. I am a very fun person to hang out with and talk to. 

The 2020 Student T-shirt was designed by Saul Soltero Medrano.

This young artist's winning image of Zozobra 2020 is one for the record books and the RealityX2 animation that brings it to life is literally mesmerizing.

We'll let him tell you more about himself: My name is Saul Soltero Medrano and I'm a Hispanic who was born and raised in New Mexico by my parents. I'm just your average 15-year-old high school student who has an interest in art.  I like to draw cartoons and I go to West Mesa High School. I enjoy things such as drawing, riding my bike, going out on walks, and playing video games. I like to explore far places and discover places I never went to.

I was introduced to art at a very young age, and I like making art whether it's with cheap pens or expensive markers. Art always fascinated me, the special way art looked on a canvas. I like the idea of having a thought or idea implanted into a picture, and I like how people can draw the impossible. I was interested in Zozobra because, well, who doesn't want to see a giant marionette filled with all the bad that people have get burned.

Our 2020 ZozoFest Artist is Russell Thornton.

Creativity and imagination were always encouraged in Russ Thornton’s childhood home. “My mom used to save everything for crafts and art projects, besides cooking all our meals and sewing our clothes, etc. And there were always books and encyclopedias to keep us entertained.” A fourth grader in Tucson, Arizona, he was always getting in trouble for doodling around the edges of his papers at school. His teachers told his mom he would get bored when he finished his work so his mom told them “Well, give him more work!” A military family, they moved to several times growing up. Always one for cartooning and art, he was an art and journalism major who did local band posters and such as a young man in Austin, Texas. Pay was unreliable and he often got hungry and ended up working in restaurants. “I always liked to cook but I had never considered it a career. I must have been pretty good because I kept getting promoted!”

Chef Thornton had an opportunity to move with his family to Santa Fe in 1996. He was involved in several restaurants and breweries there and in Albuquerque for 20 years. In late 2015, he decided to lay down his chef’s knife full time and pick up a pencil to flex his somewhat rusty artistic skills. “I had always been involved in doing some sort of art over the years and while I did not lose the knack, I also did not progress much over the years, so I had lot to learn and relearn.”

One of his first projects was the official poster for the 2016 Zozobra. This image dovetailed into some of his other concepts showcasing fantasy and fairy-tale type subjects in New Mexico settings. “It seemed to me that most fantasy art was of a European nature, and local art seemed to feature mostly landscapes and natural settings and I thought I would try to marry the two.” He has been involved in the Zozobra art show “Zozofest” every year, producing multiple images of Old Man Gloom roasting chiles, riding a Harley, and even disco dancing. He named his online studio “Camino Unreal Studio” and has a series of greeting cards with characters he created dubbed “Gnomexicans”. Many of his images are featured on his website www.russellthornton.com . His work has been featured in local newspapers, galleries, and gift shops, as well as custom magazine, book covers, and business logos. In the last couple of years, he has purchased a home in Chama, New Mexico where he has put a lot of time and energy into his seemingly never-ending episode of “This Old House”.

“The 2020 Zozobra poster I designed with my theme being ‘Back to basics’. Here I showcased the true hero of the tale, the Fire Dancer who rescues the kidnapped gloomies and brings fire to defeat the giant evil puppet and burn away our gloom. I felt we need this more than ever!”

Russell is renowned for his amazing art work and he also designed the winning 2016 Official Zozobra Poster. Russell is known for the many cartoons he produced over the years for the Santa Fe Reporter, and we couldn't be more delighted to have his artwork back in the mix! One look guarantees that Russell knows Zozobra well –– his moods, his gloom and his many expressions –– the way only a dedicated artist can!

Our 2020 Zozobra Event Information Artist is Michael E. Martinez.

Michael is well-known for his winning 2016 Official Zozobra T--shirt design, which sold like hotcakes!

Michael has been a striving artist for 25+ years. He grew up in Chimayo, NM, where Northern New Mexico culture grows rampant. Michael creates original works of art, through a variety of media. He specializes in paintings and graphic design. His style and flair represent past and present experiences, all while keeping his Northern New Mexico values and culture embodied in his work.

Michael has received many awards and accolades for his work, which include the Contemporary Hispanic Market First Time Exhibitor as well as becoming one of Santa Fe’s Zozobra artists. The New Mexico Tourism Department has also named Michael Martinez Designs as New Mexico True Certified in 2017.

The amazing Zozobra Do-It-Yourself Pop-up Kit was created by Sally Blakemore

Sally Blakemore has been in love with Santa Fe since 1967 when she first experienced the “very special” place on a road trip.  She arrived as a resident, 22 years later, with her husband Rusty Storbeck, after working at New York Magazine as art production director and spending 4 years in New Orleans showing her paintings and drawings. Working in Santa Fe with John Muir Publications as art director, she designed The Extremely Weird Animals Series, and illustrate Kidding Around Travel series for children.

Sally discovered the BAG, Book Arts Group in 1990. Starting her own pop-up book packaging studio, in 1994, Arty Projects Studio, Santa Fe, Ltd., she and a staff of paper engineers, developed and created interactive books offshore, for Simon & Schuster, Little Simon, Dutton Children’s Books, Harry Abrams, Reader’s Digest Books, Intervisual Books, Viking, HarperCollins, Gibbs Smith Publications, Western National Parks Association, Disney Press and international publishers in Japan, Spain, England, Netherlands and others. Her pop-up art book, July 16, 1945 —the history of New Mexico and the atomic bomb won the Palace of the Governors purchase award in 1991. Her hand-cut paper engineered books are in many collections in the USA and internationally. Santa Fe's incredibly magical Zozobra experience, inspired her to create the Pandemic Gloom personal Zozobra pop-up card. Read more about Sally and her work at this link.