Laolu Senbanjo got a request email in which Beyonce wanted to work with him. He, as anyone would, though it’s a scam.
Laolu Senbanjo, who is 38-years- old remembers:
“The Nigerian in me was just thinking it’s just one of those emails… I wanted to know what the catch was and when they would ask me to pay some money.”
Finally, he did reply. In Beyonce’s Visual album “Lemonade” in 2016, he did a body art Job for Queen B.
He relocated to New York City from Nigeria to pursue his desire, and this was the break he needed for his career.
The artist now goes by the name Laolu NYC or Laolu. His style is something that is unique, maybe because he is ready to use anything or anyone as his canvas.
It can be Nike sneakers, Belvedere bottles, or face art needed by Serena Williams, Laolu’s signed brush strokes get demanded.
“The style is called ‘Afro-mysterics,’ which means the mystery of African thought pattern…..heavily relies on very sophisticated symbols. I call them hieroglyphs from Yoruba mythology.”
Laolu got asked to become the new art director last year, for a campaign preparing to raise awareness of the dangers of malaria within the African Youth.
The most common mosquito-borne disease in Africa is malaria.
Nigeria, the artist’s home country has an estimation of more than 400,000 people dying because of malaria every year.
In fact, the artist caught malaria a few times himself.
Therefore, he was eager to volunteer his art to spread awareness.
In February, the campaign got launched, called Draw The Line Against Malaria.
It included a short film, in which many African talents got featured like, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, a Nigerian actor, Sherrie Silver, a choreographer, Eluid Kipchoge, Kenyan Marathon runner.
All wore custom artwork made by Laolu.
As he explained his process of body art he said:
“It’s a skill that I’ve had to develop over time to be able to create art on anyone……..They have to be comfortable because it’s a level of intimacy that they probably don’t give just anyone. So it’s very ritualistic and is very sacred to me.”
Further, he said:
“Malaria has taken so many lives in my country……It continues to be a stumbling block for a lot of us. And just to know that this is preventable — for me, it’s a worthy cause.”
The campaign designs are not random.
They are images that got based around various things with meanings.
The combination of various lines, shapes, and symbols creates a language that is visual, and he calls it The Muundo, meaning Structure or Artistic Creation in Swahili.
One of the parts of the campaign is for users to design their participation in the Muundi.
The objective is to produce a huge mural which will get presented later this year to world leaders in the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Metting in Rwanda.
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