A Q&A with Bruna Pétalla

If you are in New Orleans, you’ve probably seen Bruna Pétalla’s work by now whether it’s been IRL or on your social media feed. Her colorful murals have been popping up around town the past few months and are as inspirational as they are photogenic. Bruna is a muralist and a lettering artist originally from Brazil. When she’s not painting, she’s serving delicious food at Karibu Kitchen among many other things! 

How long have you been in New Orleans?

I moved to New Orleans in March of 2018, but I fell in love with this city the first time I came here in the Spring of 2015. How can you not, right? I fell in love with the lifestyle, seeing all the festivals spring brings and the super friendly people who make New Orleans this special and unique city.

Photo by: Drake Matlock

What initially drew you to the city?

I was born and raised in Brazil, but I have always dreamed of traveling the world. For the longest time, I was finding excuses to not make this dream happen, until I realized I would be more frustrated for not having tried to make this dream come true than actually try and fail it. With this mindset, one random night I bought a one-way flight from Brazil to Los Angeles and I had was 5 months to save all of the money I could and plan a fun journey around the globe. When I told my family and friends about my plans, they told me I was crazy. One month in, traveling around the USA by myself, I thought they were right. Until I decided to come to New Orleans for a 3-day trip. All I knew about the city was: MARDI GRAS and BOURBON STREET, hahaha. When I got here I felt at home! I left 33 days later in tears thinking of all of the incredible people I had met and the amazing experiences I had in this magical place. I will never forget the words a friend told me “Bruna, you have to keep traveling, just so you will know there’s no place like New Orleans.” I knew he was totally right. Now, here I am… allowing myself to live all the opportunities and fun this city has to offer.

I saw the plywood as a big blank canvas and a chance to add more color to the city and bring it back to life.

What inspired you to start painting murals around town? And what inspires an idea for a new mural?

It was the chance to bring back to people what New Orleans is about. New Orleans is a lively city. Everything around here inspires you to enjoy your life the most. It’s colorful, it’s busy, it’s fun, it’s loud with all of the great music and incredible flavors of the food. But suddenly, at the beginning of the quarantine, none of it was out there anymore. It was sad, everything was covered with plywood. I saw the plywood as a big blank canvas and a chance to add more color to this city and get people to see this city how it is and bring it back to life. This is what inspires me to paint a new mural, it’s how I can make people smile through the colors and the message I want to paint.

Photo by: Drake Matlock, mural by Bruna Pétalla and Kyleigh Ardoin

Do you have a favorite mural you have done so far and why?

I have two. One is here in New Orleans at the Artmazing Gallery. I love that mural in so many ways, but mainly because I got to paint not just a giant wall but also the steps on their two flights of stairs, with a very Brazilian color palette to represent not just my roots, but also Gisele’s’, the Gallery owner. The second one is in my Father’s house in Brazil. I love that one because I got to mix every color and paint it without having made any sketches before so it was very joyful to see it coming to life.

Bruna Pétalla
Photo by: Drake Matlock

Do you have a favorite local artist?

In a city full of very talented artists it’s hard to select just one. All of the fantastic artists who were part of the Plywood Project really inspired me on this muralist journey including Fried Skripmz, Jiwon Huang, Four Finger Press, Zac Maras, Morgan Gray, Tyla the Creative, Kyleigh Ardoin, all fantastic artists with different styles and causes. I am a huge fan of Ashley Jones, Small Chalk, and how she uses her voice to support so many wonderful causes and fill her work with powerful messages. Also, another local artist whose creativity I really admire is Brittany Schall, La Adorna. It’s not just the costumes she creates that are stunning and so unique, but also her drawing and mural techniques that are outstanding.

What’s your drink of choice?

Well, as a Brazilian, my favorite drink is a Caipiroska, a drink made with fresh fruits and good vodka. Since it’s not that easy to find it around here, I usually go for a French 75.

Your favorite restaurant in the city?

Karibu Kitchen Catering is my favorite for sure. But I also have a list of places that always make me happy when I visit including Bearcat, Carmo, and Mais Arepas.

What’s a random or unexpected fact about you?

I can drive a shift car on the British side of the road. 

Photo by: Drake Matlock

And lastly, where can people go to see your murals and purchase your prints? 

They can see my work on some walls around the city at the Auberge Nola Hostel, at 1628 Carondelet St. and at Artmazing Gallery at 309 Decatur St. You can also purchase my work online through Artmazing Gallery. Right now I am working on my own website to have more products available soon, but you can follow my work on Insta at @bybrunapetalla and stay tuned for some good news coming soon.

P.S. Use code babesxo for 10% off of tickets to Artmazing Gallery 😉 It’s a must see!

Bruna Pétalla
Photo by: Drake Matlock