Five (and a bit) Questions with… George Butler
“I think an artist/illustrator can offer empathy and dispel misconception. They can provide or communicate an idea that an audience can relate to.”
1. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is George Butler. I am a reportage illustrator, which means I use drawing from life, in situ to describe places and people and situations. I studied illustration at university and made a couple of trips to Afghanistan and West Africa to make drawings. It was these journeys that made me realise that drawing wasn’t just something we did whilst we waited for photography to be invented but it was something we relate to, stick on our walls and become emotionally attached to. When all of those things happen, I find you get a much better representation of what happened than perhaps even film or photography.
I keep doing it because it is a brilliant excuse to stand on every street corner, be invited into every house, meet each person and watch.
2. Do you think an artist has a particular role or responsibility in the world?
No more or less that any other person in the world.
3. How do you see your role?
Role may be a grand way of looking at it, but I think an artist/illustrator can offer empathy and dispel misconception. They can provide or communicate an idea that an audience can relate to – whether that was the intention to start with or not. It’s about evoking a reaction, preferably a positive one.
4. Does identity play a role in your creative craft, and if so how?
Yes, I think identity should play a role. The drawings that I make are along similar themes to photojournalists and I hope that they offer a different understanding of these subjects. The drawings would otherwise be very flat if my own interpretation, experience and opinion were not included. These drawings are done on the spot so the influence, I hope, is clear.
5. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given over the course of your career?
“Get a part time job” is something I was told as an illustration student starting my career.
Ronald Searle once wrote this to me:
“The reporter has to intervene, otherwise just take ‘snaps’ and be anonymous and boring. To have an opinion on anything you need to have an encyclopaedia in your head. And some culture. A pen and pencil and paper is nothing if you have nothing to say. Otherwise do pretty watercolours and forget it.”
A bit more…
Where’s your favourite place to see art?
Out of a frame, in a museum archive, with no one else around.
You can find George in our Amal teaser video along with several other artists. You can find out more about them here:
Alia Al Zougbi – www.aliaalzougbi.com
George Butler – www.georgebutler.org
Batool Abbas – www.cargocollective.com/batoolabbas
Sanaa Hamid – www.ronakbahaar.com
Nasreen Raja – www.instagram.com/nasreenraja
Ruh Al Alam – www.ruhalalam.com
Mohammed Yahya – www.facebook.com/MohammedYahya
May Robertson – www.mayrobertson.co.uk
Salahuddin Mazhary – www.instagram.com/adventuresinfashionistan
Alton Letto – www.twitter.com/altonletto
Thahmina Haseen – www.goldentiffin.co
Maab Adams – www.youtube.com/watch?v=zK_G-h1uep8