Sam Curcio (she/her) is a Melbourne-based Illustrator and Graphic Designer who creates colourful characters with cheeky charm. Her work is inclusive, vibrant, bold, positive and bright. She loves to make people smile through injecting humour into her illustrations.
Hey Sam, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and where are you based now?
I’m born and bred in Melbourne (Naarm) Australia. I’ve lived here my whole life in both the inner and outer suburbs. I love it here and the more I travelled – pre-pan – the more I fell in love with it as my home base. Melbourne is such a creative, musical and food centric city and there’s always something interesting going on.
During the pandemic, my husband and I bought a mid-century house in the bushy Aussie burbs and have been slowly renovating it. It’s been nice to channel creative energy into something more hands on and practical. In 2021 we had a son, Ezra, who is a little curly haired cutie and we are so happy being out here in our bushy sanctuary!
How did you get into illustration?
I studied Graphic Design at University but I have been illustrating throughout my entire design career. For years, while I worked as a designer full time; I was doing freelance illustration projects, participating in a few group shows, doing illustration challenges with friends, or just creating silly illustrations for my own amusement.
Why do you love it so much?
I do pinch myself a lot knowing that all the hard work I’ve put in over the years is paying off with a career that I absolutely love. Being approached by an enthusiastic client to work on an illustration in my own style is a thrill and I don’t think it will ever stop being one! Illustration is also very fulfilling because it can be applied to so many different mediums and can be used in any industry really. So far my illustrations have appeared on a tampon box, a beer can, chocolate wrapping (with you guys), been tufted on a rug and I can’t wait to see where they appear next!
Your work has got loads of personality and playfulness to it – what inspires your style?
Colour is a huge source of inspiration for me and I try to boost colour as much as I can when I’m illustrating something. Turn it up to 11, you know? I also find that injecting humour brings me joy and if I am able to elicit a reaction in someone else, that’s a bonus too! Life’s too short to be serious!
You’re a Mum to little Ezra, has motherhood inspired your work?
Hugely, actually! There are so many things I never really thought about as products that now I want to make for Ezra and other kids. I also see things out in the world that exist for kids or things people use a lot with kids and I think to myself “I could make my own version that”. I’m slowly trying to build up my online shop so it has stuff like this. I try to set aside a bit of my earnings from client work to put into creating products like that.
I also think about making special things just for Ezra too. For example, I collaborated with a local tufter to make a custom rug with my illustrated shapes all over it for Ezra. I probably wouldn’t have done that if I didn’t have a kid! So yeah, it’s been a change for the better. So many more ideas!
What’s your design process like?
My process has shifted a lot since I had Ezra. I definitely work more sporadically, working around his routine. For a long time when he was tiny and slept a lot, I was able to draw on the iPad while keeping him bopping with my foot in the bouncer opposite me. The iPad has been a game changer for me in that I can work on the couch (in ugg boots) instead of having to come into the study to sit at my iMac (also in ugg boots). I primarily use Ai for iPad, as I’m a vector gal through and through. I wouldn’t say it’s particularly quirky but I am not a hand-sketcher at all and I dive into digital straight away. My work is super colourful and I like to experiment with colour as I build an illustration so that’s a huge part of my process. Play as I go, I guess you could call it?
You’ve worked on some great projects already - what’s been your favourite?
I have been so lucky to have already worked with some really cool companies – both large and small – on some great projects and I definitely do not take that for granted!
My most exciting job to date which I am thrilled I can finally talk about is a children’s book called Hello Every Body! published by Hardie Grant, which is out now. This was an absolute dream job for me! The book is about celebrating all different types of bodies and how we are all unique and that’s something to be proud of. I honestly wish this book existed when I was a kid! I can’t wait to hold it in my hands!
Something I would absolutely love to work on, and am trying to make happen, is to illustrate a children’s clothing range. To see kids running around in clothing illustrated by me would be a huge thrill and truly a dream come true! So if anyone is reading this and they want to collab, please get in touch!
Do you listen to songs / music whilst creating? If so, what?
Always! That is a tough question! I’m always trying to find new stuff and my taste is very varied so it’s different most days. The genre I listen to the most would probably be 90s indie / alternative I guess? Spotify probably calls it something weird but that’s my definition. Some of my favourite bands are: Apples in Stereo, Yo La Tengo, They Might be Giants, The Strokes and The Beatles. I also have a bunch of playlists my husband and I have created for every year we’ve been together, so they’re a nice snapshot at what we were listening to at the time. Aren’t we cute? (Don’t answer that… haha)
Shop Paperboy x Sam Curcio collection on the Paperboy® App.