George Butler is an award-winning artist and illustrator specializing in travel and current affairs. His draws in situ using pen, ink, and watercolor. Over the last ten years his desire to record scenes in ink rather than with a camera has meant he has witnessed some extraordinary moments, including refugee camps in Bekaa Valley, in the oil fields in Azerbaijan, in Gaza with Oxfam, in Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Angola.
"The skill is to use drawing as an interview technique for an entire situation. I make visual notes in ink as time passes. It isn't all about conflict. The drawings are of more common experiences than those on our front pages—they are of unfolding scenes, of habits, of stories, or of a single character."
His drawings have been published by the Times (London), Monocle, the New York Times, the Guardian, BBC, CNN, Der Spiegel, ARD television (Germany), and NPR. His work has been shown in the Imperial War Museum North and the V&A Museum, which also holds some of his work in the National Archive.
His most recent exhibitions include those at Lambeth Palace and Bankside Gallery. In March 2020 he won the Winsor and Newton Award of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours and Mall Galleries.
In 2014, with three friends, George established the Hands Up Foundation. The foundation’s aim is to remind the people they had met in Syria that they had not been forgotten by supporting the salaries of professionals inside Syria.
“The simplicity and power of his pictures pierces all our defenses.”
Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
“Butler's memorable images show that a closely observed drawing is not just worth a thousand words but hundreds of photographs.”
A. A. Gill
“While photography is good in what it can reveal; drawing has that ability to have a considered approach of a different kind—simply because it is less instant and more reflective. Stories emerge from such drawings. George Butler is keeping reportage drawing alive.”
John Vernon Lord
"George Butler combines the curiosity and wanderlust of David Attenborough with the delicacy of brush of Audubon, traveling afar to bring back a subtle evocation of fauna and flora and the people he meets in far-flung places."
Geordie Greig, Editor in Chief, Daily Mail