Community Project: Covid-19 ArtAds

Last month, we were invited to get involved in a scheme to deliver a message to the key-workers, doctors and nurses who have braved exposure to the killer virus while the rest of us have remained at home under lockdown.


Petting Zoo’s Covid-19 ArtAds Billboard Poster : A crowdsourced public commission.

Annabel Innes, who co-ordinated the project, got a number of artists active in the Portsmouth area to submit designs and liased with a local billboard advertising agency to arrange the lowest possible costs for display – a pretty urgent social media drive (helped out greatly by Strong Island) then directed donors to the kickstarter page for funding the whole operation.

PettingZoo-Covid19Poster-EditableInstaBadge copy

An Insta-badge designed to sit in a donor’s instagram gallery to promote the cause.

The Petting Zoo piece was perhaps the most “instructional” piece submitted, however in an attempt to avoid being preachy, the message was relayed in a manner very much like the “What did you do in the war Daddy?” propaganda posters from the 1940s. Whilst we would never engage in war-propaganda, we adopted the idea simply because we liked how we would be able to talk about the pandemic as though it were an event overcome, history, a time survived. We felt there was a positivity to that.

Looking even further back to the 1910s, we borrowed another propaganda icon, the patriotic lion. A symbol identified with Great Britain, with strength and with pride – we thought (at the risk of enforcing the patriarchy) that a noble lion would evoke a sense of family unity, something that would be critical if everyone was to find themselves in close quarters for an extended period.

Our initial draft had the dignity (head held high) but was perhaps a little too strong – so we deflated his mane a little, faded the colours from rich, earthy reds to a more melancholy lavendar and even wet his eye. We wanted to portray an older, everso slightly crestfallen but experienced, wiser character and probably spent more time on the colour palette than any other aspect of the design. Except perhaps the wording.


reads the core message in bold letters. This play on words would likely be all that passing drivers could read and had to make its point succinctly.


is the next line, readable by passing pedestrians – this aimed to forgive those who initially overstocked on toilet-rolls and hand-sanitizer rather than scold them like social media had done already – we’ve moved on and grown, folks know better than that now.


unity in the community needs to be encouraged every opportunity we can – there’s too much wicked press trying to make us fear our neighbours.


the thank you that I feel donors had a need or desire to send out.


no apologies for the political thrust of this line – Clement Attlee’s model for the people is being dismantled by the greed of the Conservatives – they should be stopped!


Printed and “installed” on Goldsmiths Avenue, near Fratton Train Station, Portsmouth.

Honoured to have been invited onboard, the other billboards had work by All Caps (pictured above), Harry Roberts and Fark (pictured below) …good job team!


More messages of thanks and positivity.

If you would like to purchase a digital print of any of the designs, head along to the shop that Annabel has set up in order to fund good causes in the city. Click HERE – Thank you.


Covid-19 ArtAds “Pride” : Digital Print, A3, Signed – from an edition of 50

Posted in Community Project, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

NEWS: Coronavirus Lockdown


Please stay safe and stay at home… we will see you on the other side, we’re locking down.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Design: Pie & Vinyl Identity Revamp

A quick blog to highlight a logo revamp/rebrand that Petting Zoo worked on with good friend Sam Williams of MagicTorch Illustrations.

For those of you who don’t know, Pie & Vinyl is a very much loved indie cafe / record store based just a stone’s throw from the beach and funfair, on one of the most vibrant streets in Southsea, Portsmouth.


The guys were among the very first stockists of Petting Zoo gigposters and called on us to curate the Pie & Vinyl GigPoster Show at the city’s guildhall some years back… we’ve also promoted one or two events of theirs with prints both screen-printed and digital, and in fact, it was one such occasion that sparked this design commission.

…good buddy Mr. Foot was testing the waters, hoping to launch a long-running DJ residency at the shop and got in touch to arrange a promotional poster… he wanted his portrait on it which we found rather challenging – it wasn’t until we got right down to the fact that it was the lower eyelids that needed perfecting to nail the likeness that we started making satisfactory progress. This hurdle being suddenly leapt by simply employing two semi-circles, trespassing onto the perfect circles of his smokey blue irises,  caused us to explore the possibility of rendering the caricature entirely from those shapes…


…success! we finally had something that looked unmistakeably like him!

Next up was the formalising of the layout and the branding (Pie and Vinyl’s pie spinning on a gramophone). Well, despite adequately serving the small higgledy-piggledy shop for their first 10 or so years , the hatched, steampunk, pseudo-etched rendering of said logo just did not fit next to the sloopy curves of the portrait and so we thought it might be fun to take the liberty to rebuild it in the same manner as the main illustration (see top left corner above).

The poster went down well, and P&V’s Steve was soon on the phone to us investigating the possibilities of employing the new version of the logo for an upcoming revamp.

Here’s where we needed help – initial attempts at an isometric (flat / zero perspective) finished piece just looked confusing and a 3D model seemed the best way to go for accurate perspective, so we got in touch with our old buddy in Brighton. It took just a few backwards and forwards of ideas and tweeks to nail this (such is Sam’s professionality) and we even created a ghosted, transparent version complete with inner workings!


We were over the moon with the finished aesthetic (soooper soooper simple) and yes – YES, that’s correct – it DOES animate! …we can’t wait to share that with you (but will have to due to being a dumbass when it comes to video formats) – just trust us, Sam nailed it – it’s ACE.

Posted in Friends, Process, Typo, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Apparel: Sea Dog Showcase Tee

A quick blogpost to let you know about a project we did some time back with our friends at the Sea Dog Print Studio …it was pretty nice of them to invite the Zoo to work with them on some fancy shirts that would be sent out as samples (with inside collar print and stitched reverse label etc etc)

Here are a couple of shots they took of the finished item (featuring what else? an albino croc) …we tagged this ZooPoo TM and will no doubt at some stage bring out a line of responsibly sourced, un-bleached, fair-trade cotton tees under that name. You, dear reader, will be among the very first to know when that occurs.


Hope you like it – ciao for now x


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Community Project: The Brook Club

Just a very quick post to let you know about a community project we worked on a while back in conjunction with the Aspex Gallery…

The Brook Club is a youth group based in the Central Community Hub in Somerstown (Portsmouth) that engages teens and pre-teens from the local area in social, sports, arts and other positive activities. The patience and understanding of the staff is incredible, as they carefully offer a safe play/meeting space and win the trust of their members, putting themselves in a position to offer guidance and counselling if it should be requested.

I was asked if I would work with the group over a number of sessions to design and then handprint a poster to both advertise their good work and to serve as a takehome project for participants – “Look Mum, I made this today!”

HUGE-GAP-May2016-aug2017 125

Having agreed on the poster’s layout and information (featuring large playful characters meeting in a stable space) I took in photocopies to be coloured in by the group with patterns, blends and handwritten lists of the activities available.

Holding the attention of the group proved to be quite a challenge, and competing with the karaoke machine and pool-table as an energy outlet would be tricky for most visiting activity leaders I’m sure – but I am pleased to say that when we actually printed the piece over two sessions, I managed to re-recruit almost everyone who had been a part of the design process.

brook club

A Brook Club attendee prints a demonstration piece at one of the introductory hands-on sessions.  (Note – the youth are way too cool for an apron)

I am very proud of the results and hope that some of those that helped out were inspired to get into printing or design or any other challenging creative pursuit as a result of these sort of activities that the Brook Club puts on for them… I’m extremely grateful to the Aspex gang for hooking me up – thanks!

brook finished

The finished poster featuring freehand script, marks and patterns made by attendees : Screenprint, 3colours (incl 2 blends) – A2, from an edition of approx 30 (un-numbered)


Posted in Community Project, Printing Classes, Process, Screenprints, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

NEWS : Happy New Year

Hello folks, just a quick post to get in the spirit of this time of year – reflections on what has happened in the last haphazard orbit of the sun, and a projection into what could occur during the next…     2018 marks ten years of The Zoo after all!


Artprint “Jamelia” printed at Primavera Sound 2017, by the wonderful Monostereo studio, Barcelona – Screenprint, 3colours (incl 2 blends), 46 x 32cm, Edition of 80 – Photo by friends at Toucan Tango

We are still based at the Hotwalls for the time being, (Studio No.8 The Batch-Maker Print Studio), surrounded by friends and creatives, on view to all who wander by and preparing for a long rota of beginners print workshops with the public till May (we’ll remind you of these over the coming months but for now click here for the calendar)…

There is some new PZoo work in the pipeline and some reworkings of old favourites planned too (marked as new editions if not from open ones) – not to mention some development of the new Kid-In-Deed project. Speaking of which, the reception of our “Never Ever, Ever After – First Editions” exhibition was very positive, and we’re grateful to everyone who took something home from it – for that particular artistic urge to be finally expressed was quite groundbreaking on a personal level, and for it to be enthused about by onlookers is massively encouraging.
The show even earnt us a nomination from the Aspex gallery in the Portsmouth News “Guide Awards” for Best Visual artist! …we’re not expecting to win as all contenders are quality and, as you’d know, we’re so very very quiet on the social-media front – but as the award date nears, we’ve just been tipped for the shorlist 6 which is splendid. It is tricky for us to brag like this online (not our bag – man) but it would be terribly rude if we didn’t thank those who put us in the running and to anyone who has voted for us – THANK YOU x x

Lastly, let it be said that the studio’s New Year Resolution is to overcome whatever hurdle we find in our way and get back into our old, once a month blog posting routine… hope that suits.

Happy New Year everyone – stay warm (warm is the new cool).

Posted in Exhibitions, Printing Classes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Exhibition : Never Ever, Ever After First Editions (Kid In Deed)

A new tier of artwork, produced under a new name “Kid In Deed” has been in development for some time now, as an aside to the produce of Petting Zoo Prints & Collectables. The purpose of this new outlet is to allow more conceptual and experimental work to go into production but without “stretching the Petting Zoo brand”.

gallery Old Portsmouth

The “Never Ever, Ever After – First Editions” print exhibition launches at the Jack House Gallery Photo Credit : Grzegorz Kopacz

Though the work’s full scope is still being imagined and themes explored, an initial preview show of prints by Kid In Deed has debuted at Old Portsmouth’s Jack House Gallery, a site close to the Batch-Makers Print Studio at the Hotwalls artist spaces, one of the key projects Petting Zoo has been lucky enough to be involved in recently.

Care has been taken for this initial stage to be simply a side-step from the output of the Zoo rather than seeming like a total confusing departure. The show, entitled “Never Ever, Ever After – First Editions” is an exhibition of screen-prints, employs typography, and harks back to various eras of retro fashion and graphic design. The idea behind the work however is more daring and exposing than anything Spencer / The Zookeeper / K.I.D. has done previously and already these first works have been more revealing and personal than he has felt comfortable showing before.

Nearing the show’s end Spencer is giving a talk about the exhibition at the Jack House Gallery… this has not exactly been kept a secret, but with this all being new territory, and with hype being so distasteful to the artist, the information has been leaked rather carefully.

Meet Spencer and learn about Kid In Deed tomorrow, at the Jack House Gallery between 2 and 4pm

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments

NEWS : It’s been a while blog.


Dog memes reduce the sting of guilt – FACT.

So … you’re still here? (thank you)

Last blog update was over 18 months ago, a new record, what’s your personal best?

Petting Zoo has still been powering ahead, and bimbling sideways too as is our tradition… there are many prints that we need to show you, there are lots of tales we could retell, there are other great dog memes that we dug up over the past few weeks as our burgeoning need to break the silence grew to be unbearable.

Let’s just leap straight in with the biggest news – back in June 2016, with good friends, we moved into one of the gunning arches in the historic part of Old Portsmouth : The Hotwalls

…go check out the site and then check out our blog here …it really is a huge privilege to be one of just 13 teams to be offered this snazzy space and fantastic platform from which we can get involved with the public, not to mention other artist groups and foundations. So sorry we’ve not trumpeted this great news earlier…

The next and most immediate piece of news for you is that a new tier of work, a new brand if you like, is launching this evening at an exhibition also here in Old Portsmouth… entitled Kid In Deed, we’ll be putting up a full blog about that soon (as well as another website) – but for now please go and visit the very smart and regularly/properly updated website of the Jack House Gallery :

…wanna see a dog pic that neatly sums up how chuffed we are at getting all this news to you? Sure you do.


x x Spencer / Zookeeper

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Gigposter : Kurt Vile & The Violators

screenprinted poster for Brighton's recent Kurt Vile gig

Kurt’s Fender Jazzmaster with tortoiseshell pickguard : signed here by the man himself.

Lo and behold Petting Zoo’s 3rd hand-printed poster for Kurt Vile’s visits to Brighton. This was an especially great show – I (Spencer/Zookeeper) had been yearning for a big, noodly, J.Mascis style, lilting guitar solo at the last gig but alas, one never issued forth (possibly due to the heat of the crowd and cold November draft from the Concorde 2’s fire exit de-tuning strings)…
this time however there were some great rambling plays, absolute gems, not showy or finnickety, but broad and generous and delivered with wry, eyes-shut, half-smiles. Blooming ace.

So I guess it’s fortuitous and serendipiti-docus that The Zoo procured a few shots of a guitar Kurt’s management knew he’d be bringing to the One Inch Badge show (in Hove, actually).

We have a few of these available for sale (unsigned by Kurt) and a couple (2, signed by Kurt) that we’ll hold onto till our new spanky webshop is launched Woohoo!

email us on to enquire – or see if you can snag one from Pie and Vinyl on Castle Road in Southsea

(more news involving those lovely pie-merchants coming v soon!)

many thanks for reading.

limited edition concert memorabilia for Kurt Vile

Kurt Vile & the Violators, All Saints Church, Hove – Screenprint, 3colours incl 1blend – A2 from an edition of 60



Posted in Gigposters, Screenprints, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Artfair : Art Junky

Barely recovered from the partying after our special viewing at MERCH (see last post) we are heading back over to Brighton to get our stock sorted out and a good flask of tea!

yes yes … it’s that time of year again… we’re going to be there for the two days as usual!

art junky flyer

come and have a nose at our new prints – say hello if you’re a blog follower and get yourself a little discount x

Posted in artfair, Special Offer | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment