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George Butler: Travel Talk with Friends of Stow

STOW welcomes George Butler, award winning illustrator specialising in reportage, travel, and current affairs. Most often drawing in situ, his work is described as getting to the essence of ‘the experiences of human beings’.

To where would you most like to stowaway?

Northern Scotland. I went there every year as a child and it remains one of the places where the enormous skies and the weather can make everything else feel insignificant. I’d go as far to say the colder, wetter and more remote the better!

Who would you take with you?

Bob Dylan, although he’d be furious. If he says no, then E.O. Wilson.I’d like to hear anything and everything he has to say about evolved human nature.

One essential piece of kit you cannot travel without, and why?

I always take a dip pen, a pot of ink and a pile of paper because my job and inspiration come from drawing the characters and stories that I find along the way.

What is your favourite Stow piece, and why?
The document sleeve. It’s difficult to find nice things that are not over complicated. This is one.

What would you keep in your Stow secret envelope?
I like the pace of handwritten letters and I’d keep the letters I have received from people I admire, like Ronald Searle, David Attenborough and my brother.

Luxury or practicality – which one are you?

Best piece of travel attire to stay stylish when on the move?

My motorbike. Does this count? I bought it on eBay 5 years ago. It’s a BMW, built in West Germany in 1978. I pretend to know more about it than I do but it’s fun to ride and nice to look at.

How do you stay stylish when travelling?

I’m 100% sure that I do not! I try and go unnoticed in the places I work so style is in itself a luxury. However, there is something romantic about a drawing board and a pen behind an ear.

Best piece of fashion advice you’ve received?

I was once told that my dress sense was like serving good food in a plastic takeaway bowl. Since then I have tried to buy better clothes. Good shoes, I’m told, is the place to start.

Who is your travel hero/heroine and why?

Ibn Battuta. I can’t comprehend leaving home age twenty-one and not returning for twenty-four years. Terrifying and awe inspiring at the same time. Freya Stark would be a close second.

Which luxury item can you not travel without

Luxury is a bit of an odd word in conflict zones.  It has become a running joke amongst my mates that I take a tin of sardines with me whenever I go travelling, “just in case”. The real luxury is always the flight though. They could triple the price and I’d still pay. To be dropped off 5000 miles away 10 hours later… its unbelievable.


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