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My name is Ike. I am a writer. I drink way too much herbal tea and believe in the power of kindness, love and a good book.

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PGI's November Girl: Laju

One toasty warm Saturday afternoon in Lagos and by contrast a windy fall day in Madison,  i had the awesome pleasure of chatting with the beautiful and talented Utseoritselaju Omagbitse Joanne (popularly known as Laju) via FaceTime. We have no photos from this event because we both were in Saturday-chill-mode. Pardon us.

Laju is a successful Lagos-based artist who has been sketching and painting for as long as she can remember. Last September, she had her first art exhibition themed: "Woman in Bloom" along with other artists who were involved in this event, which sought to contribute to the discussion on the process of self-actualization for the woman in a typically patriarchal society. It's wonderful knowing people who use their talent and passion to develop and improve their community. It's what we all strive to do. It's what we are all made for.

Let's meet Laju!

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Hey, Laju! What's "Laju" short for and what does it mean?

Utseoritselaju which means the work of the Lord is too great

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Where are you from? 

Warri, Delta State, Nigeria

What is your morning app sequence?

Hmm…  Instagram,  WhatsApp or iMessage…. Instagram…again..  *laughs*

What do you do?

I'm a banker with Heritage Bank

Describe your art?

My art is mostly acrylics on canvas. I started with charcoal but then again, i love color! Right now though, i paint acrylics on canvas.

Acrylic paintings dry fast and that works for me. Oil paint is beautiful but I'm not that patient. *laughs* I'm thinking about working with charcoal and acrylics. 

I work with female subjects, i find them easy to relate to and for now, African females because the color of our skin is just beautiful in real life and on canvas!

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How and when did you start painting?

I actually started very young. I remember in primary school, I’d draw match-stick people, then they evolved into box-like images. I was always fascinated by the cartoon images I saw on TV,  and wondered why I couldn’t make my drawings look like the cartoons, so i'd trace directly from the TV or from Archie comic books. That really helped.  And of course, my art teacher in college, class mates and even family recognized my talent and kept urging me to do better.  Over time, I’ve nurtured this skill and improved on my style and techniques

Most interesting muse?

I’d say female mannequins. I fell in love with them recently; the fragility of their posture amazes me. They've opened my mind up to a thousand ideas. Hopefully you’ll get to see what I come up with in my future artworks

What does your creative work space look like?

*laughs* That’s funny because my work space is my bed and the floor of my room…. That’s where the magic happens. Haha. To answer your question, Newpapers on the floor of my bedroom.

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What do you do when you have a creative block?

I just stay away from trying to paint or sketch, because the more I try,  the more I end up making everything worse…which is deeply depressing, although, sometimes I go online and view thousands of images related to the ideas I had in my head, to come up with something unique. *laughs*. Apart from these two,  I just lay in my bed and stare at my ceiling.

But on a more serious note though , what works most times is staying away completely,  it helps me cool off and also gives me a different perspective on my work

 Art-crushing on this John Madu painting 

Art-crushing on this John Madu painting 

What are your creative work must-haves?

An old piece of cloth to clean my brushes, my iPad/phone to refer to my saved ideas or the internet for clarification (when I get stuck)

Longest & Shortest time taken to complete a work

Longest, 1 month; Shortest, 4 hours

 I am in love with this sketch

I am in love with this sketch

Default nail polish color

I usually don’t paint my nails *covers face* but if i had to choose, nude or purple

Who is(are) your greatest support system?

Family and close friends. They make me believe in myself

What song describes you at 5.30am?

Don’t wake me up by Chris Brown

I'm more of a 6am person

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Quirkiest thing about you?

I like to sleep with the lights on. When I wake up in the middle of the night and there isn't power, I turn on the flashlight of my phone and fall asleep

Favorite cake flavor?

Red velvet

Favorite artist

Joseph Eze, Sara Golish, Nelson Makamo

Most frequent Lagos-traffic purchase?

Plantain chips, Super Yogo! *laughs*

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Most random Lagos-traffic purchase?

A paint brush which wasn't really made for art but I used it anyway!

Do you love Lagos?

Yes! I love the people, they are lively and it's modern

What would you say to anyone considering painting your form of art?

Go for it!

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Thank you, Laju, for being our first PGI Girl! Love you Loads!

Get your bespoke acrylics on canvas paintings by Laju this Christmas!

Email: laluch.art@gmail.com 

Phone: +2348170789192

Instagram: @laluch_

 A shot from the September "Woman in Bloom" exhibition

A shot from the September "Woman in Bloom" exhibition

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