Nigerian visual artist Laolu leaves his mark on Tennis superstar Serena Williams

The professional tennis player rocks Laolu’s unique face paint on the cover of Essence’s Global Fashion Issue.

Serena Williams rocks Laolu’s unique face paint on the cover of Essence’s Global Fashion Issue (essence)

Laolu Senbanjo has added another huge name to his impressive international career.

His latest collaboration is with tennis superstar Serena Williams on the cover of the September Global Fashion issue of Essence where she rocks the Nigerian visual artist's distinctive body paint.

He took to his Instagram page to share his excitement about working with one of his sheroes.

His caption read, “Working with one of the greatest athletes of all time was truly an honour. It is still surreal when I think that @serenawilliams was my canvas. I captured her essence and greatness with this unique print. Every element in the Artwork is a reflection of who she is."

“Growing up in Nigeria, it was far-reaching to think that I could ever work with such an amazing person; one of my sheroes. For those who think their dreams are unreachable, I hope this serves as validation that they’re not. Thank you @essence for the opportunity.”

The man behind the art

Senbanjo, better known as Laolu NYC, has made a name for himself with his mystical body art which is steeped in Yoruba mythology.

Since leaving the country for his base — Brooklyn, his Sacred Art of the Ori Yoruba body paint ritual has been featured on Beyonce’s Grammy Award-winning Visual Album, “Lemonade.” 

He has also appeared in the Washington Post, the NY Times, Vogue, BBC, CNN, VICE and collaborated with top brands like Nike and Bvlgari. 

Regardless of who is working with, he stays true to his heritage. He explains why this is so important to him in an exclusive interview with Pulse.

In his words, “When you are Nigerian, you really are an ambassador for the country without even realising it. My art has allowed me not only to express myself but also educate people and I never thought that I would be in that kind of space to do that. Art has been that tool that has brought me in front of a lot of people and allowed me to explain what it means to be Nigerian. I explain to them what the imagery I use signifies and I take them to Nigeria without them having to move an inch which is a unique thing.’’

Senbanjo's style of art is called 'Afromysterics', a term coined by the artist. It means the mystery of the African thought pattern.

His mantra is"everything is my canvas" which is why you can his art on everything from people to shoes, bags and jackets.

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