He took to his Instagram page to share his excitement about working with one of the most outstanding athletes of our time and someone who Laolu himself looks up to immensely.

He wrote, “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.”

Nigerian visual artist Laolu Senbanjo marks Serena Williams with his signature tribal designs [Credit: Essence]

Releasing a statement about the cover and what it means for him to share his rich culture with the world, Laolu said, “Pushing my artwork to a global level has always been a goal of mine. From drawing in my notebooks in Law school, I always envisioned sharing my culture for the world to see. 

The September issue is not one that is taken likely within any publication’s rollout of yearly releases. When I got the call to be apart of the September issue of Essence, I was excited and immediately ready to get started.

Working together with Serena and Essence on their global fashion issue gave me the chance to not only share my culture, but also, allowed me to be apart of one of Essence’s major milestones. When deciding how we would approach the cover, we spoke about including elements of my Sacred Art of the Ori ritual that would further highlight Serena’s features and make her stand out. The ritual, something I coined back in 2015, embodies one’s essence and soul; with Serena as my canvas, I created what felt most natural in the moment. 

I am excited for people to see Serena through the intimate lens everyone got to experience on set. After working with her, it is no doubt she is the GOAT.”

Nigerian visual artist Laolu Senbanjo marks Serena Williams with his signature tribal designs [Credit; Essence]

Laolu describes his particular type of visual art as 'Afromysterics' which is a term coined by the artist and essentially means the mystery of the African thought pattern.

Speaking to Pulse Nigeria in an exclusive interview, Laolu explains, “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.’’