Artist Spotlight: Tolu

What is your name?
Hi! I'm Tolu Binutu, a developer and visual artist at Pencils n Brushes Artworks (, a visual art and design company based in Lagos state, Nigeria.

Tell us a bit about yourself/background
I'm a Medical Doctor and visual artist. I founded Pencils n Brushes with my brother, Kanmi, some years ago. We had always been interested in Art and design. Also, we found out very early that we work best together and it only made sense to jointly start something on the foundation of our synergism. Currently, PnB has come to mean something more than two brothers with a thing for Art.

What incited your interest in art generally?
Well, you know how everyone who has ever been asked this question goes "I've always been drawn to it?" Lol, I'm gonna have to do the cliché thing then. Seriously though, Kanmi was the first to show interest. He ruined a couple of books and walls with his drawings. Basically, any flat surface was all he needed and it didn't take long for me to catch the bug. We gave everything a try; pencil drawings, color pencils, plastacine, paper mache, clay, paper cuttings - you name it, we did it. It was fun, exciting, natural and of course, a lot of headache for our parents. Our love for art made childhood enjoyable.

How was the reaction/feedback from those around you (family/friends)?
LOL! Remember the headache I said we gave our parents part? We did some damage in the name of art. Luckily, we had amazing parents. They realized very early that their kids were on to something, so they allowed us to do and undo as long as it didn’t affect our schooling. Keep the grades up and you could dig up and mold with as much clay as you wanted. As we grew up, our friends got a lot of free drawings from us. Had I known, I'd have behaved like Dangote and sold the drawings. *sigh* There was this guy who commissioned us to make a portrait but ended up running away. Guess what we charged him? NGN600 - six hundred naira.

What inspires your art and how do you joggle it with your primary profession?
I will define Art as the means by which we make sense of the world and everything happening all around us. You see, Art and Design are very remarkable, in that they are tools that can be used to communicate and entertain in a way that no other tool could. They go beyond portraiture and fan art. They are our default means of expression, a way that our befuddled minds try to make sense of the world we live in and the world we carry in our minds. That’s why as kids, we all loved art. We all wanted to draw, paint, mould, carve, trace etc. Art is a release. I love Art and Design. I'm also a Medical Doctor and both are time-consuming. Both fields tap into different areas of your consciousness but if you plan properly, you will excel.

What are the most challenging projects you've executed so far?
I remember when we did a project with Chocolate City in 2015. We met with M.I and after a long argument about Real Madrid’s superiority over Arsenal, we offered to do a live painting at The Beat of Lagos, a concert they were planning at that time. Eventually, we ended up doing a mega-sized 4 x 7 feet portrait of all the artistes under Choc City label and also painted Jesse Jagz live on stage as he performed. There was also this time when we had to do 24 pencil portraits of special guests at an event. Some of those guests included the Ooni of Ife, Oba of Lagos and Olusegun Obasanjo. 

Future Plans?
Currently, our biggest project is The Hive. The Hive is an art academy where we teach people how to draw, paint, design and make careers out of these skills. It's been fun and challenging. It's also proof that there is an artist in each and every one of us. We have gotten amazing results so far; as we have students who are creating mind-blowing stuff that they never thought themselves capable of. I love every minute of it.