Fascinated by graffiti culture in the early 2000’s, Zuzu found herself painting her first piece in the streets in 2008. After completing her studies at the world-renowned creative advertising program at UT Austin in 2010, she discovered her passion for digital art and creative direction. In the years following, she combined her love of art, business and design, working with national brands like Rolling Stone, Neiman Marcus, SXSW, Budweiser, Facebook, Red Bull, Fender and W Hotels. Zuzu was named “Austin’s Best Muralist 2021” by the Austin Chronicle, and she is a proud member of the Board of Directors for the HOPE Campaign, a nonprofit 501(c3) supporting visual artists and musicians through community programming and projects. She’s currently focused on creating large-scale murals, commissioned canvas work and installation artwork.
1. What gets your motor running, artistically?
Every morning I wake up with gratitude — it’s the very first thing I acknowledge before getting the day started. Then, I drink lots of coffee and I get back to the art grind. My life typically overflows with creativity and inspiration, although everyday can be different. Like many things in life, creativity is inconsistent and wild to reign in. Some days I find myself more inspired and “creative” than others. My artistic pursuits are charged up by other creatives, spending time traveling and in nature, and in-depth conversations about art and business. When I need to get into the “zone,” I sit down and dive in. I look up inspirational images and make mood/vision boards, I sketch, I get distracted, I keep sketching, I call friends to talk me through it, I get distracted, and then eventually I end up with some artistic creation. It may be amazing or it may totally suck; either way, it’s a process and I love it.
2. Where do you see the Austin art scene heading in the next few years?
The Austin art scene has always been vibrant and thriving. The creative community in the city is supportive, connected and diverse. It’s always changing, and there will always be emerging artists stepping into the scene to add to the magic. The art scene is growing with the city. More people and businesses moving to Austin means more opportunities for artists…. and I don’t know about all the other creatives out there, but I’m definitely here for it! The Austin art scene is only going to get better with time.
3. What drew you to making graffiti?
In 2008, when I was in the 9th grade, I fell in love with graffiti for the first time. I fall harder every time I pick up a can and paint another mural. It all started in math class. I was immediately enamored when I noticed the kid next to me sketching a graffiti piece in his class notes. I’d never seen anything like it. The shapes, the balance of the letters, the style, the flow . . . it just blew my mind! I grew up moving around a lot as a kid. I lived mostly in small towns all around the US, but not places that had a thriving graff scene. The moment I was exposed to it, I knew I wanted to learn more.
I started painting a couple years later and the rest is history. The first piece that I ever painted was under a bridge in South Austin. I wrote GIRL, because I wanted everyone to know that I was a female. I’m still proud to show the world that women can spray paint large walls; however it’s now in a [more] elevated approach, not by writing GIRL all over my artwork. I wasn’t very good when I started, but I loved it anyway. I got better over time with patience and practice.
4. You’ve said that your philosophy is “we get what we give.” How does your art reflect this view?
The mantra keeps me grounded and serves as a reminder to work hard and to be a good person. I believe in the power of manifestation, the law of attraction, karma, whatever you want to call it: Put out what you want to get back. In regards to my artwork, I create brightly colored murals, often with positive phrases and messages. This is my way of making the world a better and more beautiful place. I give back whenever I can, and I use my artwork to spread positivity and love.
5. Your website URL is IHavePinkHair.com. Does this mean you’re completely locked in to having pink hair for the entirety of your art career?
That’s exactly right! I couldn’t be happier about it! I’ve had pink and purple in my hair for 10+ years, and I have no plans to change it. One day I’ll be grey, pink and purple. My hair has to stay on brand.
6.What would you say to someone who maybe has a (not entirely legal) habit of painting art on buildings, and might want to turn that hobby into a career?
Hard work always pays off. With patience, practice, and persistence, anything is possible. I never thought I’d be where I am today. I was a broke-ass artist for so many years. I would work multiple jobs at once to make ends meet. It wasn’t glamorous, but it was worth it. One day at a time, one project at time, I learned the lessons I needed to grow my business and harness my creative skills. It’s a continuous learning experience for sure. It starts with a dream and the drive to achieve that dream. My advice is to get out there — in the streets, the galleries, the local art shows, get into the scene – SHOW UP! Let people know what your goals are, and let your tribe help and support you. Most importantly, know your worth and your value. Never be afraid to ask for what you want in this world. You deserve it all.
7. How do you take your whiskey?
My favorite way to drink whiskey is in an incredibly made Old Fashioned. If I had to choose where to grab one — Still Austin ALL DAY!