Under the Baobab Tree With: Lulu Kitololo
Lulu Kitololo is one of our most favourite artists. Her striking drawings and prints are inspired by her love of Africa. Born and raised in Kenya, Lulu has maintained her African roots whilst living in London and her stunning creations mirror the colour and vibrancy of the continent. We caught up with Lulu to find out more about what inspires her, her fabulous lifestyle blog Afri-love, and her fond memories of the Baobab Tree.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m an artist and designer. I was born and raised in Nairobi and I now live in London where I own and serve as creative director for a graphic design studio called Asilia. I spent a few years living in New York, studying communications design before I moved to London to pursue a Masters in African Studies. Many moons later, Asilia, my art and my blog, Afri-love, have enabled me to marry what many saw as very different educational interests!
What inspires your work?
Africa is my main muse. There is so much creative diversity and richness on my beloved continent – the various textiles, traditions of adornment, wall art, sculpture, accessories, fashion and more. Nature is another huge inspiration for me and again, it’s her diversity that never ceases to amaze me. Lately, flora, and especially tropical plants, have been on my mind a lot. Hence my daily challenge for the year: #plantsomethingdaily (which you can follow on my Instagram @lulukitololo).
What is the main aim behind your Afri-love project?
Afri-love began as a space to celebrate African and diaspora creativity, and all that is inspired by this. I wanted readers to be proud of our artistic and cultural heritage, and to be inspired to pursue their own creative ambitions. The arts were not widely seen as a viable career choice when I was growing up. Now however, I’ve come across so many artists who are proving that thinking wrong. They are achieving great success (in many ways), at home and internationally. And they come in all shapes and sizes – growing up I don’t think I even knew that being a fashion stylist was an option.
With Afri-love I want my fellow Africans – on the continent and in the diaspora – to broaden their horizons, in terms of what is possible, and to actively turn their dreams into reality. To this end, I share inspiration; resources relating to creativity and enterprise and; not to forget, wellness, because I believe this to be a fundamental part of the balance. I also share stories from my own journey.
A Portrait of Frieda Kahlo & 'Mama Africa' aka Miriam Makeba
What does the future hold for Asilia?
Over the years, Asilia has worked with several individuals and organisations with some connection to Africa. At the moment, probably around 90% of our clients fit this description. We seem to be developing a niche for this. What excites me is that our clients are all doing ground-breaking work and they want that to be represented in the design of their visual identities, print materials and websites. That’s what we enjoy most – working with passionate visionaries who are up for challenging perceptions and doing things differently. We’re looking forward to working with more people who share these values. We’re also excited about building our network of multi-disciplinary collaborators, so that we can deliver new kinds of experiences – digitally and in real life.
You’ve mentioned Baobab trees in some of your earliest child hood memories in Taita, what does The Tree of Life mean to you?
The baobab tree is the subject of a lot of mythology in Kenya. There’s something about this grand, upside-down-looking tree that inspires a lot of curiosity. Despite how odd it looks, compared to the other trees, it seems so assured – it’s confident about all the goodness that it has to offer. For me, this is a great reminder for each of us to love our quirks – to embrace and celebrate that which makes us different and unique.
Baobab or moringa?
Baobab every day!
For more information check out Lulu's website, http://www.lulukitololo.com/