Creo founder Olaoluwa Olatunbosun hopes his art workshops will help at-risk youth in the Sault
While it can take a lot of courage to express creativity, everyone has the opportunity to share their talents and discover new ones.
That’s the message Olaoluwa Olatunbosun, a 20-year-old student at Sault College, wants to convey to local youth with his new, creatively-driven program.
Originally from Nigeria, Olatunbosun moved from his home country at the age of 13 with his mother and two siblings. He lived in big cities like Las Vegas, Montreal and Toronto before making the decision to come to Sault for the college’s graphic design program last September.
After settling into small town life, he felt something was missing here.
“In terms of creativity, I’ve noticed that there aren’t many opportunities for youngsters that empower them to be creative geniuses,” he says.
That’s when he got the idea to start Creo, a program designed to provide training and spaces for young people who want to express their creative abilities.
Creo comes from Latin and means “creation”.
While in southern Ontario, Olatunbosun studied computer science and landed a summer job as a web designer for his church in Toronto. While the program wasn’t working, he discovered his passion for graphic design and eventually his calling to art.
Since arriving in Sault in September, Olatunbosun has found the United Baptist Church and received approval to operate his workshops outside of the building. United Baptist even provided Olatunbosun with $1000 in funding to start his company.
“A church is always a really good place where I feel safe,” he says. “It’s a very safe place.”
Olatunbosun intends to offer courses and workshops for people aged 15 to 30, while also providing a place for young people to hang out and express their creativity through activities such as painting, drawing and watercolor painting.
The graphic design student says that while the free speech aspect was a big motivator in founding Creo, the original intentions of the program go much deeper.
“This was created with the intention of reducing drug use in Sault Ste. Maria,” he says. “There’s just so much these drug-affected kids deserve and they haven’t gotten it. And because they didn’t get it, they indulge in things that cloud their future. I want to create a space in the Sault where people can find a way to put those things aside and focus on something else.”
Olatunbosun’s transition into Canadian life was challenging, especially as he had never experienced a cold winter before.
“I love this place, but the only thing I’m scared of is the cold,” he says.
Olatunbosun admits he felt very isolated during the colder months and wished there had been a program like Creo to take his mind off this difficult time of year.
“It’s a devastating time for a lot of people,” he says. “There’s not a lot of sunlight, and with that comes quite a bit of sadness — and it hit me, too. I feel like if I had a community of creators it would have made a huge difference.”
Olatunbosum plans to launch his first Creo course at United Baptist with a watercolor workshop in the coming weeks.
While in Toronto, Olatunbosum visited an Innovation Hub at a nearby library, which had powerful computers that allowed kids to explore the ins and outs of graphic design.
He spent countless hours learning to use Adobe Illustrator and began posting his work online.
“I got millions of views,” he says. “I just kept getting better and better and I knew this was something I wanted to get into.”
Besides providing a space for hands-on workshops like painting and sketching, Olatunbosum has bigger ambitions to bring computers into a space so kids can use them to develop their graphic design skills.
“The only reason I’m as good as I am now is because I had this space in Toronto to keep practicing,” he says.
Olatunbosum recognizes that there is a lot of potential here for young people to express their artistic skills and says a place like Creo could have a positive impact on the community.
“Before you know it, creatives could be popping up all over the city, and this place is becoming a creative hub,” he says. “I want to see the city there. I want it to be a place where people can freely express their creativity. Where people can sit and enjoy a workshop, learn and create.”
Olatunbosum shares his work on his Instagram and TikTok pages @olastrator.