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Drawing the Line against Africa’s Deadliest Creature

When Laolu Senbanjo received an email requesting him to work with Beyoncé, he thought it was a scam. The artist, who now goes by Laolu NYC or simply Laolu, has a style that stands out mostly because of his willingness to use anything, or anyone, as a canvas. Whether it’s sneakers for Nike, bottles for Belvedere, or face art for Serena Williams, Laolu’s signature brush strokes are in demand. “The style is called ‘Afromysterics,’ which means the mystery of African thought pattern,” Laolu explains, adding that it “heavily relies on very sophisticated symbols. I call them hieroglyphs from Yoruba mythology.” Now, the visual artist is using that style to help raise awareness for one of the world’s deadliest diseases. Last year, Laolu was asked to become the art director for a new campaign geared to raise awareness among African youth about the dangers of malaria. The campaign, which launched in February, is called Draw The Line Against Malaria. It includes a short film featuring African talents such as Nigerian actor Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, Rwandan choreographer Sherrie Silver, and Kenyan marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge. All are sporting custom artwork by Laolu.