Jenna Tomasello is a local Tucson artist who specializes in mural and faux finish painting, and has a product line of desert inspired, artisan made bandanas.
You may recognize her Star Wars Cantina mural for Tallboy’s Restaurant on 4th ave, the sunset mural on what is now the Pima Area Labor Federation offices on e. Pima, and a community paint by number mural in the Subspace Artist Studios.
What is your story as an artist? How did you come to be a professional muralist?
The first ever mural I painted was one where I was assisting a friend on their project, and I realized “I could do this”. That moment was the inspiration that got me to look at my art as a career. I started seeking out painting jobs in order to learn how to approach my work as a trade and a business. I painted sets for theaters, did conventional house painting, murals, and worked alongside many skilled craftspeople whom I continue to learn from and refine my skills with.
I started designing my bandanas in 2018 with the inspiration of having my artwork be more functional and accessible. My bandana patterns are inspired by desert plants, animals, stars, and seasons. I paint all of my designs by hand and I truly enjoy making them. I sell them through my website (which I will be relaunching in mid-May) and in three local Tucson stores, Pop-Cycle, The Ninth House Shop, and Shop at Mesa in the MSA Annex.
We heard that the bandana project helps support local businesses. Can you tell us about that?
Yes, it is important to me that my bandana manufacturing is done locally. The bandanas are sewn by a women’s sewing co-op, DouglaPrieta Works, in Agua Prieta, Sonora. The patterns are screen printed in South Tucson by the union print shop, The Gloo Factory.
What’s next for you as an artist?
Ive been working on developing my the business end of what I do, as there is so much that goes into running a business. I am looking to do more commercial art and murals and to grow my bandana and product line.
Anything else you want to share?
I hung out at BICAS a lot when I first moved to Tucson 10 years ago, it was sort of my second home for a while. I volunteered in exchange for shop hours to build a bike. Now I have a bike with a baby seat on it and my baby and I go on bike rides every day. So, a lot of my inspiration is from my desert home here, I love living in Tucson. I love the desert and the landscape and all the plants and animals, looking to the stars, star myths and different stories… connecting ourselves to the landscape and history and stories of place and finding magic moments in that.
Published May 2021