Michael Butler

 Michael Butler is a talented artist who made the leap from graffiti to fine art is on a mission to inspire other youngsters

Artist and University of Wolverhampton alumni, Michael Butler isn’t content with creating and selling beautiful pieces of art. He wants to ‘give back’ – two words that many people voice, but few do little about. Not Michael. He’s using his talent, youth and energy to encourage local youngsters to get into art in a big way. Michael’s fine art degree from the School of Creative Art and Design at the University of Wolverhampton included a business aspect in the form of the SPEED Entrepreneurs in Education programme which among other things gave him the confidence to successfully pitch his idea of using one of the university’s studios rent free. Sponsored by the university on graduation, Michael said: “It allowed me prolonged, uninterrupted artistry which was really important.” While Michael was squirrelled away, he wanted to avoid being too isolated, so he began volunteering in local schools as well. He got involved in workshops which were ‘empowering’ and found he had a great rapport with the kids. “Because I was so young, they didn’t see me as an authority figure. It was a cool, fun time and the kids responded to it.”


Michael would like to do more, so he has a grand plan to launch a gifted and talented master class for children from all backgrounds in the Midlands. “We’ll have a rigorous selection process and crucially the master class will be free to ensure it is inclusive. That’s the stumbling block at the moment, but it will happen.” Michael has approached heads of department across the city, including Wolverhampton and Dudley from year seven to sixth form about getting the scheme off the ground. His vision is to run workshops with established and emerging artists that will give an insight into the industry and help develop technical skills. It’s not just kids in the Midlands who’ll benefit from Michael’s commitment either. During a trip to Brazil where he took some stunning photos, Michael was shocked by the deep sense of poverty. “There were children sleeping on the floor. I’d never seen homeless kids before.” Michael got in touch with a charity in Brazil, met one of their representatives and came up with loads of ideas to help get kids engaged in art. They loved his ideas and he’s planning to go back as soon as he can to put them into practice. Michael’s ready to pursue his own creative artistry further and is shortly off to London to embark on a Masters in ancient Chinese and hieroglyphics. He’s almost obsessive about the formation of letters and calligraphy plays an important part in his work. “I’ve been investigating the genesis of ancient hieroglyphics and Chinese calligraphy by looking at artefacts and tools used to create written text.” Michael decided that painting on canvas was the most suitable surface and he uses various tools to scrape off paint that has been poured on to the canvas to reveal emblematical metaphors. The abstract results are stunning. Michael said: “Regardless whether people can read the calligraphy text or not, this is not the point, the script in itself might not be an actual word or phrase once it has been altered.”


Aside from getting the master class off the ground in the Midlands and inspiring youngsters in Brazil, Michael’s dream would be to exhibit his work at the Gagosian Gallery or the Saatchi Gallery in London. And what of Birmingham’s art scene? “Birmingham itself has an exciting and vibrant art scene but we need to see more events spilling out to the surrounding areas – Wolverhampton for example. It’s all very centralised right now.”