The annual 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!

Competition is fierce to be an official Zozobra Artist and the 2021 art contest was no exception -– especially regarding the quality of the art. Open to artists of all ages, with the rockin’ 80s theme in mind, New Mexico artists rose to bigger, brighter Zozobra-sized heights!

Says Zozobra Event Chair Ray Sandoval, “Our community did the judging, and they were hard-pressed to choose a winner. And the 80s theme that inspired so much amazing artwork was a clear indication of just how much our fellow New Mexicans are going to enjoy this year’s Decades Project 80s-themed Zozobra!”

Read on to learn more about the artistic journey of these amazing talents in their own words!

The 2021 Zozobra Poster was designed by Gabriel Garcia!

Gabriel’s super-punk design has the 80s written all over it. The colors. The text. And the attitude!

Born on a nice spring morning in Las Vegas, N.M., April 14th to be exact, a baby boy was born to Ralph and Frances Garcia. Being months premature and only weighing a few pounds I barely made it, but the universe had other plans for me, so I became the youngest of four siblings. Growing up, my parents owned and operated a family-oriented restaurant, El Rialto in Las Vegas. As a kid, my siblings and I grew up in the restaurant, working our way to learn the business’s many positions and routines. 45 years later, I am currently the 2nd generation owner of this established location.

I took an interest in all mediums of art at a very young age. My grandmother was very creative and worked with various mediums from ceramic to knitting. She was always making something and I was always there watching and learning. Upon graduating from West Las Vegas High School, I decided to follow my dreams and attend art school in one of my favorite cities. In 2010, I graduated from the Art Institute of California, San Francisco with a Bachelors’s degree in Graphic Design and Illustration.

Returning back home in 2010, I made the choice to further my education. I attended New Mexico Highlands University in 2012 and graduated in 2014 with my Master’s degree in Graphic Design and Computer Science. My education was always important to me and receiving my Master’s was a goal I promised my mother, who was always my strongest supporter.

The 2020 Zozobra T-shirt was designed by Angel Del Frate!

The look on Zozobra’s face in Angel Del Frate’s winning 2021 T-shirt design is absolutely priceless!

For a long time, I didn’t think art was something I was capable of doing. I thought that about a lot of things, actually. But gradually, I am warming up to the idea of calling myself an ‘artist.

I was born and raised in Albuquerque, NM, and I spent most of my summers in Santa Fe as well as the time around Zozobra and Fiestas.

I started first drawing back in 2015 because I was more inclined to school than art when I was younger, but as I got older, I found art more meaningful. I graduated from UNM in 2020, at the age of 20, but my major was in Criminology, not art.

When I was younger, and even today, Zozobra has always been one of the first things I tell people about New Mexico. It’s always stood out to me as an especially unique and wonderfully strange part of the culture here. I’ve always been strange myself, and I tend to have difficulties being understood, and art has been a way for me to communicate things to people that I couldn’t otherwise. So, I was happy when I became a Gloomie and took part as a child. Just as I am happy now to be taking part as an artist.

I had some difficulties on my road. I’ve had depression most of my life. And it’s definitely hard sometimes. Mental health, as well as equality, are very important to me as an artist. As a queer artist, I try to always be mindful of representation, and who can be seen in my work. I try to communicate messages of unity in our differences and self-improvement. I consider 2021 my first official year as an artist, but I hope people are willing to follow me on the road I have ahead. I believe this will be a big step forward for me.

The 2021 Zozobra Youth Poster was designed by Jade Perea!

2021 Student Poster winner, Jade Perea pictured Zozobra enjoying an iconic 80s moment sure to bring up memories!

Jade Perea was born and raised in Santa Fe, NM. In May, she graduated from the Master’s Program and the Santa Fe Community College with an A.A. in fine arts.

With a long-standing interest in art, she recalls that one of the most exciting times of the entire school year was getting to create Zozobra themed art in school. Even more exciting was waiting to see what appearance Zozobra would take on for the year. After seeing the announcement of this year’s theme she was inspired to design her take on Zozobra as an 80’s icon.

Looking to the future Jade has plans to pursue art as a career. The first step to achieving this goal is that she will be attending St. Edward’s University in Austin Texas as a New Mexico Davis Scholar starting in the fall of 2021. She plans to study Graphic Design and Fine Arts.

The 2020 Zozobra T-shirt was designed by Jaden Love!

Jaden’s winning 2021 Youth T-shirt art showcases 80s-style entertainment back in the day!

Jaden was born in Albuquerque on November 30, 2000 to parents Denise Rivera-Love and John Love. She is the first of 3 and spent the first 5 years of her life waiting for Erik and Sarah Love to join the family in 2005.

Growing up Jaden’s mother would take her exploring. They would go for long walks together, collecting pretty rocks for fairy houses or fallen leaves to build leaf-men. Denise kept Jaden inspired to create and encouraged her to be imaginative and independent.

Throughout school, Jaden was lucky to have some of the most dedicated teachers who helped to pinpoint her academic strengths. She was always very curious about the world and became drawn to math & science for the sake of new discovery. Although school in many ways steered Jaden away from directly pursuing art, she remains passionate about creation.

Currently Jaden is a third-year Physics student at New Mexico State University. She has been employed recently within the Physics department conducting research with The Ellipsometry group and hopes to continue this into the future.

The 2021 ZozoFest Artist is Allen Hopkins!

Allen Hopkins set Zozobra right into 80s history and culture, instantly recognizable!

Allen Hopkins is a graphic designer and illustrator who enjoys the challenges each discipline presents. Having said that, he also enjoys sleeping in, laying on the couch, and watching a good movie on TV. If you ask him if he’s into fitness at all, he’ll say, “yes, fitness entire pizza in my mouth!”

Allen was raised in Northern New Mexico. He did leave for 6 years to get his degree in statistics from the University of California at Riverside and then his degree in graphic design from Utah State University, (yes, there is a constant battle between his left brain and right brain) but the beauty of Northern New Mexico drew him back, and he’s very excited to be involved with the Zozobra festivities this year.

Allen is very active in participating in soccer, sand volleyball, ultimate frisbee, mountain biking, tennis, hiking… Wait – scratch that. He WAS very active, but after a serious spinal injury, he now enjoys watching sports. In his personal art, he creates with found materials as well as woodworking. In his spare time, Allen loves spending time with his wife, Lisa, and walking their dog, Shö. Friends and family are important to him. He would love for you to come up and say hi! Don’t worry if his face looks like he’s in great pain – it’s either his left and right brain battling it out or the ongoing pain from his spinal injury. He’ll still give you a smile either way!


On Friday, September 01, 2023, the Burning of Zozobra returns as a live, in-person event, and the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe can’t wait to help New Mexico re-open by welcoming experienced burners and Zozobra newbies alike to free themselves from gloom!

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