Laolu Senbanjo: Sharing The Beauty of African Stories Through Arts

Laolu Senbanjo brings more awareness and visibility to African arts and culture through the distinctive storytelling in his unique artistic style.


Laolu (Olaolu) Isaac Senbanjo is a visual artist, musician, human rights lawyer, and activist from Nigeria who has received global recognition in recent years.

He is known best for his distinctive African artworks and designs inspired by Yoruba mythology and culture. His arts have been featured on CNN, Vogue, the BBC, Huffington Post, ABC, FOX, and more.

One of the reasons, Laolu is so unique is that his designs can be seen anywhere. He designs typically on anything from the conventional canvas to shoes, walls, buildings, clothing, and more amazingly, the human body.



Born and raised in Ilorin, the state capital of Kwara in Western Nigeria to Yoruba Parents, Laolu fuses a modern style with his Yoruba heritage, creating his own unique style called ‘Afromysterics’.

Growing up, his dream was to be an artist. But in his community, art was not seen as an actual or serious profession. He didn’t have a choice to study art. His father was a lawyer and studying law was also expected of him. Therefore he had to become one.


Laolu, while practicing law, spends most of his day doing arts. Not only arts, but music as well. He would sneak his art into the office just so he could have more time to work on it. While law was a field he was interested in, he was so much in love with his art.

The passion was unstoppable and this prompted him to give up his legal career to become a full-time artist. He knew that his art was bigger than him and needed to commit more and share this part of him with anyone who would take the time to look or listen.

African Arts and Afromysterics

laolu-senbanjo-the sacred-art-of-the-ori

Laolu uses the term “Afromysterics” to expound his creative works – both visual and musical. It depicts the mystery of the African thought pattern. This is something his work promotes and embodies.

His inspiration comes mainly from his Yoruba culture. He is also influenced by the surroundings, climate, and fascinatingly, his dreams. These all ignite his creativity both day and night.

The Yoruba heritage, ever-present in his work, marries modern detail and an ornate style to create a vision of Afrofuturism. His preferred medium is charcoal but he also works in acrylics, inks, and even wood.

Each line or gesture of his art expresses a particular feeling. You could almost hear the art speaking to you.

The Beauty Of African Arts and Culture


Laolu’s artistic prowess and style is dynamic and very energetic. His creativity is and has given more light, awareness, and visibility to the idea that there are distinct cultures within Africa.

Sadly, there are a lot of things most people from around the world do not realize about Africa and African arts. His work opens up the discourse on African Diasporic art – changing how people view “Africa” by showing that it is a multi-cultural continent. A continent with distinct cultures, customs, religions, and stories.

There is a pride you feel when you look at the artworks. This surreal pride in itself has a strong connection and tie to the dynamism of the Yoruba culture.

The Sacred Art of The Ori


The Sacred Art of the Ori is one of Laolu’s signature works. It is a representation of the Yoruba Ritual that literally interprets your soul and destiny. In the Yoruba language, “Ori” literally means your essence, your soul, your destiny, and also comes with a mantra.

When Laolu works with a muse, it literally feels as though he, the muse, and their Ori have become one. The art physically feels like drawing what’s on the inside, what’s in the soul, the essence, and being. The art peeps deep into you in the most spiritual and energizing way. The connection is just phenomenal.

He was recently named “Master of Air” for a collaboration with Nike and his ‘Sacred Art of the Ori’ was premiered in Beyoncé’s conceptual video Lemonade. It’s incredible and exciting to see African arts that tell our stories reaching great platforms for the world to connect more with us.

‘Everything Is My Canvas”


Laolu applies his mantra, “Everything is My Canvas,” from conventional canvas to mural designs, fashion partnerships, live art events, walls, buildings, and the human body.

When Laolu started putting art on human bodies, he discovered that people loved customized storytelling. This made him customize his art for them. With human elements and patterns that evolve from the individual, his work sparks conversations.


His art has been seen by thousands, whether on social media or by people walking the pavement of New York City streets. One of those viewers was a fellow artist – Beyoncé. In 2016, she reached out to Laolu to be a part “Lemonade” – her Grammy Award-winning masterpiece.

Since then, Laolu has worked with more celebrities like Angelique Kidjo, Alicia Keys, Usher, and collaborated with various brands including Nike and Kenneth Cole. The humble, kind, and soulful artist has continued to seek new pathways of expression.

“I just want it to be that people are inspired by the journey and the story. It’s more about inspiring that kid, that child, who also has a dream. Because for me, my dream has always been art. And it’s always been being able to share my gifts. Because it’s a feeling you have as an artist sometimes. You just don’t know how you’re going to do it, but sometimes you have to just take a leap of faith and just plunge. Just jump”

Watch Laolu Senbanjo’s TED Talk on “The Sacred Art of the Ori” below

#AfricanArt #AfricanStory #AfricanBeauty #AfricanCulture #LaoluSenbanjo

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