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Katto Katto


Posted on 01/09/23

Armed only with his dip pens, Indian ink and drawing board illustrator George Butler sketches the World’s most dangerous conflicts.



A fortnight into Russia’s shocking invasion, as millions of Ukrainians abandoned their homes and traveled west to safety, illustrator George Butler embarked on his own journey in the opposite direction. With just a few clothes and his drawing equipment stashed in a shoulder bag he flew from London to Romania before boarding a bus to the Moldovan capital of Chișinău and then on to Odessa in Southern Ukraine. 

Having established himself in the bombed-out port city Butler wasted no time in getting to work. Since the age of 21 he’s been illustrating - in breathtaking detail and delicacy - the horrors and hope of modern conflict. 

From Syria to Iraq, Algeria to Afghanistan, Butler has drawn some of the most dangerous places on Earth. “There is always space around the edges of these vulnerable, sensitive places to tell longer, slower, quietly observed stories”, he once told The Guardian. “I draw what happens at the fringes of society”.

It was in those early days of the Ukraine conflict that Butler’s work came to the attention of the team at Katto. 

War reportage and kitchen knives might not seem like the most obvious marriage. But in the early days of the conflict we, like so many, wanted to do something - anything - about the atrocities we were seeing on our screens.

So we contacted George and commissioned a bespoke illustration with the idea that we could print it on tea towels, sell them and donate the proceeds to Ukraine. “What’s the role of food in the conflict?”, we asked. “Could we do something about that?”.

His answer is what you see printed here - a wonderfully detailed, powerful scene of what was once the food market in Odessa. 

“It used to be a bustling market with food stalls and shops”, George told us when we spoke to him after his safe return to London.

“But since the war it's been transformed into a hub for collecting, organizing and redistributing donations and supplies. Everything from food and medicine to toilet paper gets packaged and sent out across the country”.

Everyone at Katto was moved by the piece. But when we printed it onto tea towels its significance and intricacies were somehow lost. 

So we decided instead to print it here in all its glory and to simply make a donation to George’s favored Ukrainian charity, DVO. 

“It was founded by a young bloke called Vlad”, George told us. “He got shot whilst volunteering and now says he doesn’t fear dying. So he delivers food and supplies all over Kharkiv”.

If you’d like to make a donation of your own search on Instagram.