ZuZu Perkal first arrived in Austin to pursue an advertising degree at the University of Texas. After graduation, Perkal spent several years working at various creative agencies and organizations before realizing her dream of becoming a full-time visual artist and muralist. She is also a yoga instructor and serves on the Board of Directors for HOPE Campaign, a nonprofit organization supporting visual artists and musicians through community programming and projects.
This year, Perkel’s work was captured on thousands of phones when it became a photo frame at the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Perkal corresponded with Girls That Create via email.
Q&A With ZuZu Perkal
After graduation, what was your first job, and how did that prepare you for other roles?
When I graduated college in the winter of 2010, I packed my bags and headed to Colorado for a three-month adventure in the mountains. I needed a breather after graduation, and it was one of the best decisions that I ever made. I did a few creative projects and painting while traveling and returned to Austin in the spring of 2011, ready to rock n’ roll.
My first job out of college was creative design work for a small media company, followed by an event planner for a print and apparel shop. Both jobs paid me little to nothing, but each was rich with experience and important lessons. These job opportunities were vital because they taught me how to work with others, the back-end of production and design, and the importance of creative autonomy.
What made you decide to quit your 9-5 job and pursue your career as an artist?
I was never meant to be working at a desk all day. I value the time I spent working for other people and various companies, but it wasn’t fulfilling after a while. I was overworked and underpaid. I knew that I wasn’t being valued and compensated the way I deserved to be, so one day, I quit. It took a lot of courage and trust, but it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ll never work for anyone ever again. I love the ownership, autonomy, and flexibility of being an entrepreneur.
Was everyone supportive of your decision to quit your job and pursue the career you have now?
Everyone was incredibly supportive of me quitting my 9-5 job, and various side hustles to follow my dreams. Some were more skeptical than others, but they believed that I had the power to make it work. I now find great gratification in inspiring others to follow their dreams and live aligned with their true passion.
What would you tell your younger self if you could go back in time?
If I could go back in time and visit with my younger self, I’d hype her the f*** up! I’d let her know that she had all the power, potential, and possibility within her. And I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m beyond grateful for where I am today—every single moment before this led me here. Life unfolds the way that it’s meant to.
What is your favorite part of having this career as a muralist?
Being a full-time artist and muralist is a dream come true. It’s not always glamorous, and it’s definitely not easy. However, it’s what I love doing more than anything. My favorite part of the entire process is witnessing my artwork’s impact on others. Seeing other people light up when they see my art makes all the hard work worth it.
Is there any advice you would give to younger girls with similar goals and aspirations as you?
My advice to young people is simple:
- Believe in yourself and your potential.
- Know that you are deserving of your wildest dreams.
- Hard work always pays off.
- Life is about the journey, not the destination. Enjoy the process.
Written by Yohana Franco
Top image provided by Perkal