Local artist Zuzu Perkal is inspired by everything life has to offer. She uses colors, nature, travel experiences and conversations with creatives to paint beautiful, lively murals. Recently, the artist completed a 30 x 10 foot mural at The W Hotel’s Wet Deck. She is always looking for the next big wall she can “get down on.”
By Tori Klein, Photos courtesy of Zuzu
Originally from San Diego, Zuzu arrived in Austin in 2000 after spending her childhood moving around with her family. She attributes who she is today to this plethora of different experiences. She desires to be social in new and different environments and is constantly inspired by her surroundings. Living in different places as a kid left her with a nuanced appreciation of the world around her. One that forced her “to forge her own path,” she says, and with an appetite for street art and vivid creativity.
Zuzu uniquely has a love of the business behind her art as well as the murals she creates. She benefited from growing up with one artistic parent (her mother) and one who devoted to business (her father). As her dad ran restaurants her whole life, Zuzu remembers waiting tables at age 11 and how it instilled a love of “the hustle” in her. She also graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in creative advertising. These business skills have allowed Zuzu to thrive as an independent artist and to support herself in doing something she loves.
Graffiti and street art piqued Zuzu’s interest from a young age. Her artistry and creativity stem from these two art forms. And while she was new to Austin, she was desperate to be involved in this scene. Appreciating the art from an observational standpoint first, she photographed street art and graffiti before she started painting herself. “The first time I painted a piece myself, which was under a bridge, I knew that I found something special,” she says. “I knew that I was absolutely hooked, and I’ve just never stopped painting since then.”
Zuzu’s desire to create art comes from wanting to inspire people. A desire that reveals why she didn’t follow her degree in creative advertising with a job in the field. Zuzu wants to create art for people to enjoy, not art for the purpose of selling something.
One of the secrets to Zuzu’s success as an independent artist is her honed-in process. On each of her projects, she begins by meeting with the person she’s going to work with to see the wall she is painting. This helps her get a feel for the vibe of the space, understand what the vision for the project is and foster a relationship with whoever she is working with. She then creates a mood board of her idea for the space. Ensuring she and her contractor are on the same page before completing the step that takes the most time: coming up with the design. Once she and her contractor agree on the design, Zuzu gets to painting. Her preferred medium is spray paint. But she does like working with mixed media such as collage, brush paint and gold leaf.
The W Hotel Wet Deck
For her mural on The W Hotel pool deck, Zuzu took a bit of a different approach. While she usually starts with a lot of abstracts, for this piece, this time began with botanicals, floral elements and a tropical feel. She incorporated colors she doesn’t normally use. Stepping out of her comfort zone and using this piece as a chance to grow as an artist.
Zuzu shared that with this mural, she wanted to bring Wet Deck to life. Her mission was to transform a drab blank wall into this beautiful, lively piece of art that makes people feel good. She wanted it to be fun and vibrant. For people to walk up and see it and think, “Wow I can’t wait to party here.”
The gorgeous floral piece certainly brings an exciting energy to the space. It’s a great place to take pictures but is also just nice to appreciate as you hang out at The W.
Zuzu wanted to give a shoutout to what she says is the reason for success: her supportive family, friends and Austin art community. The muralist is so grateful to be in a city that supports and loves creativity. Zuzu stated that she is living her dream life with her dream job, and is incredibly grateful to those who have helped her along the way and the city that made it all possible.