Godaddy Shopping Cart

How lawyer turned artist Laolu thrives as a global creative in NYC


Ecommerce has modified the sport for struggling artists around the globe, particularly for these working in the creative (and cutthroat) capital of New York Metropolis.

Brooklyn-based artist Laolu NYC (born Laolu Senbanjo) has come a great distance since transferring right here from Nigeria in 2014. The previous human rights lawyer says the town was calling his title.

“From the humanities, creativity, and tradition, I take into account New York Metropolis as the epicenter of the world,” he says. “When you’re right here, it’s simple to develop into engulfed in the town’s vitality.”


Upon his arrival he discovered how aggressive the business may truly be.

“Early on in my profession, a group of mates and I’d get collectively, go right down to the Decrease East Aspect and discover locations to promote our art work on the road — typical New York Metropolis hustle.”

To his shock, this led to his first sale when a collector drove by and returned with $1,000.

For Laolu, this was simply the beginning of his rise in the New York Metropolis arts scene. From presenting a Ted Talk gone viral, to working his on-line hub, Laolu.NYC, he knew tapping digital avenues and creating an internet presence could be instrumental to spreading his message on a global scale.

Right this moment, he finds himself collaborating with manufacturers like Nike, Equinox and Starbucks, as effectively as celebrities like Lupita Nyongo, Alicia Keys, and even Beyonce.

As he says in his Ted Discuss “Each artist has a title, and each artist has a story.”

Right here, Laolu shares his story, a narrative crammed with inspiration for rising artists.

Q&A with artist Laolu

This interview has been gently edited for readability.

GoDaddy: What do you like most about being an artist in New York Metropolis?

Laolu: What impressed me to remain was realizing most individuals from New York aren’t truly from right here, everybody has a backstory making the town probably the most various locations you would ever be in. The hustle jogs my memory of Lagos — so lengthy as you’re keen to offer a service, individuals will need to do work with you.

For the primary time in my life, I felt like I may very well be myself.


Nobody second guessed me once I launched myself as an artist whereas in Nigeria, there was a want to elucidate I used to be a lawyer so individuals wouldn’t choose me or assume I used to be outright loopy. Right here, I may present up totally as myself. I may paint my face and function at my highest self and other people welcomed it.

I felt so in tune with my Ori that it gave me permission to simply be — New York made me really feel totally alive.


GoDaddy: Are you able to describe your mission and what motivates you?

Laolu: I’m motivated by the fixed need to indicate individuals the other ways to be human exterior the European gaze.

For those who come throughout my work with no prior information of Yoruba tradition, there’s no manner you’ll be capable to go away the identical manner. My aim is to indicate the significance of Yoruba historical past and tradition as a result of it encompasses individuals whose tales matter.

Similar to the Greeks, the Chinese language, and Europeans, Yoruba individuals had kingdoms, customs, kings and queens. Simply as Individuals have their superheroes in the likes of Superman and Batman, in Yoruba mythology, we have now our personal heroes which might be simply as mighty.

I would like individuals to see us and our tales as actual elements of historical past.


When somebody interacts with my work, I would like them to see Yoruba historical past and be taught from the knowledge, artwork, and customs of our ancestors. There’s much more historical past about Yoruba tradition that isn’t lined in the realms of academia that I would like individuals to find out about via my work.

GoDaddy: How has transferring to the USA influenced your work?

Laolu: My expertise in the States has had a enormous impression on the mission behind my work.

Up till transferring to New York Metropolis, I used to be by no means recognized as a Black man. In Nigeria, nobody ever referred to as me Black — this was a enormous tradition shock for me. Studying how one can be Black is one thing that I’ve needed to inculcate into my artwork follow. If a police officer stops me on the road, I’m simply one other darkish skinned [person] — not Nigerian or the rest. This influences my craft as a result of it pushes me to review a historical past that isn’t totally mine however, as a results of the colour of my pores and skin, I’ve been adopted into.

africa is not a country print
Africa Is Not A Country” by Laolu

I now draw inspiration from Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and others who appear like me and the methods our tales intertwine. I take all of this and translate it into a visible language I name Afromysterics in which something from sneakers, partitions, automobiles, develop into my canvas to share these tales.

GoDaddy: What was one of many hardest or most sudden obstacles you needed to overcome in getting off the bottom?

Laolu: The tradition shock. Having the world view me as a Black man was one thing that was very unfamiliar. My complete life, I’ve recognized as a Nigerian so it’s one thing I’m nonetheless adjusting to.

I’ve needed to be taught that being a Nigerian man who’s Black in America comes with its personal struggles and societal expectations.

I additionally struggled studying how one can use the subway. I’d ask somebody for instructions and in some way fully do the alternative of what they’d simply advised me. So many occasions I’d assume I’m headed in direction of Manhattan and discover myself again in Brooklyn or Queens.

At one level I spotted there was nothing I may do apart from get misplaced till this unfamiliar metropolis and I turned acquainted.

GoDaddy: What would you say to a struggling artist seeking to make it in NYC?

Laolu: There actually is not any different manner than to simply open your self up. Count on nothing and the whole lot all on the identical time. I’d sum it up by saying be like New York, be like water.

GoDaddy: Why a .nyc area?

Laolu: Many individuals assume my web site is merely due to my model title. However quite the opposite, it’s a not so delicate reminder of my mission as an artist: to share Yoruba and Nigerian tradition with the world.

Seeing as my first cease out of Nigeria was New York, a place I take into account to be a global epicenter, “Laolu in NYC” translated to communicates my aim to share my work, tradition, and heritage with the world, beginning proper right here in New York Metropolis.

GoDaddy: What’s subsequent for you?

Laolu: I need to give different artists the chance to faucet into my world by sharing the instruments and sources I’ve used alongside the way in which.

During the last seven years, New York Metropolis continues to provide me the instruments that I have to share my tradition on a global scale. I do know the sensation of determining how the business works or lastly figuring out what imprint you need to go away on the world.

Whether or not or not it’s via educating different artists, giving perception into my course of, or sharing how I create the intricacy behind The Sacred Artwork of the Ori, I need to pour into the following technology of artists in tangible methods.

As New York Metropolis continues to provide me the possibility to dwell out my desires, I need to do the identical for different artists.

The publish How lawyer turned artist Laolu thrives as a global creative in NYC appeared first on GoDaddy Weblog.

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button