Ethiopia-Born Awol Erizku Is the Artist Behind Beyoncé’s Famous Pregnancy Photos

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Beyoncé’s pregnancy announcement portrait is now the most liked Instagram post of all time. The photo of the international superstar wearing a veil and cradling her stomach has been liked over eight million times.

But who is the artist behind the image? Eight million likes might not be a big deal for the 35-year-old singer, but it’s a HUGE accomplishment for Awol Erizku, the artist who took the famous photo as well as the entire photo album Beyoncé has since uploaded to her website.

Who is he?
Born in Ethiopia, 28-year-old Erizku grew up in the South Bronx, New York. In 2014, he graduated from Yale University with a master’s in fine art, and his work often fuses photography, video installations and sculpture. While he’s now responsible for the most liked picture on Instagram, Erizku has a humble following on his own social media accounts.

He has a strange way of using social media to share his work.
If you’ve tried to find more of his work on Instagram after seeing his portrait of Beyonce, you probably know already that his page is closed for business. Erizku treats his Instagram account like an art gallery, where he hosts Instagram-only art shows. For example, his account has details about “gallery” opening hours — times when his feed is open for public viewing.

He combines his art with music.
With each of his exhibitions, Erizku has released what he calls a conceptual mixtape. Think of this as a kind of soundtrack to the artist’s latest creations. One of Erizku’s most played mixes was released alongside a film and photo project called Serendipity, which was a response to the Black Lives Matter movement in America.

This isn’t his first encounter with Beyoncé.
Before he helped Beyoncé break the Internet with her pregnancy announcement, Erizku created a less-extravagant photo of the Carters during their 2014 trip to Paris. In the original photo uploaded to the singer’s Instagram, Beyoncé and Jay Z stand in front of the Mona Lisa. But after Erizku photoshopped the image, replacing the Mona Lisa with one of his portraits, Vogue shared the picture on its Instagram.

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