Phillip Butah, is an exceptional artist who, at the age of 16, became the youngest prizewinner in the Young Artists’ Britain competition.
His artistic journey has now led him to the unique role of serving as the official tour artist for King Charles during a significant visit to Kenya.
We spoke to Phillip’s artistic background, his distinctive portraiture approach, and how became official artist for The King …
Please introduce yourself …
My name is Phillip Butah, I’m a Fine Artist based in Colchester, Essex and I’m a second-generation Ghanaian born in London, England.
Describe your life right now in a word or one sentence …
My life right now, is full of relative peace and a lot of work to complete.
What set you the path to a career as an artist?
Winning the Prince’s Trust Young Artists Britain at age 14 and meeting the then Prince Charles, affirmed to me that I could take fine art seriously.
When you think about your first ever piece of artwork and the work, you’re producing today … How have you as an artist evolved?
I’m more fearless.
Art/fine art is often not considered a viable career for anyone who’s not rich/upper class, let alone black, let alone a black boy, let alone African (the stereotype that African parents especially aren’t that supportive when their children choose arts over science, maths or law … How have you navigated this space bearing those things in mind?
I never let it be my focus and just continued.
You’ve also drawn some iconic people from the culture – Ashley Walters, Linford Christie, Ed Sheeran … how did these collaborations come about?
Well Ed I met at 14 as his parents curated the Young Artists Britain competition so that experience initiated our long-standing professional relationship. The other celebrities came via word-of-mouth recommendations which have all been very flattering and comforting.
… and the Chris Brown connection?
Chris Brown is a huge art enthusiast; he had initially requested via his record label to commission me to create artwork for his then album (can’t remember the name of it though). Due to work commitments, it did not see fruition, but some years later, I posted on my Instagram page a portrait I had done of Janet Jackson. He reposted it onto his page which was again a kind gesture on his part.
More recently you’ve been commissioned to paint King Charles – why, how, and what do you do when the Royals come knocking?
It’s all been an extremely exciting time. I received a call during the summer from the palace, with the palace representative stating the King had asked if I’d be interested in travelling with him without any knowledge of the location but with the sole focus of capturing portraits of the King. As I have developed a longstanding relationship with the King (which I have kept largely private), I accepted. When the King calls you, and you drop everything you’re doing, and you go as this kind of opportunity does not happen every day.
Specifically, you followed the King on his recent trip to Kenya … What was Kenya like for you, through the eyes of an artist?
Kenya is a beautiful country and I intend to go back privately. I was able to capture the country, the people, King Charles, and Queen Consort Camilla intimately and offer a fresh perspective. To see the response from the Kenyan people to the King being there was magical, you could see and feel how much this visit meant to them. The entire trip was magical.
Tell us more about your methods of beginning and finishing your artwork – do you have a setup routine, a structured process? Do you go with feeling? Do you set deadlines? etc etc?
It’s hard to say because it’s different every time. I tend to work in oils, I try to keep to a strict time to complete things but never happens.
Highs, lows, solutions …
I really don’t focus on highs or lows. I just create and continue in my craft.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
If not this, then what?
I honestly haven’t a clue, this is the one thing I can do.
What’s made you Sad, Mad, Glad this week?
Nothing’s made me sad or mad. I was glad when I got to complete some errands I put off.
What are you watching right now?
On my phone, watching funny videos.
What are you reading right now?
The Millionaire Fastlane: Crack the Code to Wealth and Live Rich for a Lifetime! by M.J. DeMarco.
What are you listening to right now?
I was listening to Doja Cat the other day.
The last thing you saw on stage?
I think it was a free tribute concert in the local park.
What’s on your bucket list?
To try different foods in many different countries.
Where’s your happy place?
Celebrate someone else …
Rakitecht (an artist) he’s my new hero – rakitecht.com
Celebrate yourself …
I find that a bit weird lol be proud of whomever you want.
Whose footsteps are you following in?
A new exhibition I’m working on.
Where can we find you?
@Phillipbutahart | phillipbutah.com