Local to know: Brian Butler aka The Upper Hand Art

MEET THIS LOCAL: Brian Butler is the artist behind the moniker The Upper Hand Art. He is a radical dude who likes pizza and is totally a F.T.N.T. (Friend of The New Tropic).

WHAT HE IS DOING: When he is not being commissioned for awesome illustrations and murals for well-known bands and brands, he is working on his personal art project, “Show Drawn.” Brian travels to concerts all across the country, stands in the audience with his sketchbook and creates a visual survey of what is going on. This includes the people on the stage, the people in the audience, or any characters that catch his eye. He estimates that he’s documented over 2,000 performances since starting this project. You can pick up a copy of his just-released book that features his favorite drawings of the past 10 years.  

FUN FACTS: Brian started his art freelance gig as a tween by bartering band flyer designs for fireworks. Since then, Brian has always been on the periphery of the music scene (and no longer accepts fireworks as compensation — mostly). While not a musician himself, a lot of his work even today involves bands and the music industry.   


One of Brian’s sketches featuring the band Afrobeta. (📸: Brian Butler)

QUOTABLE: “Show Drawn started very impulsively,” said Brian. “I was at a concert and ending up tearing a poster off the wall and drawing on the back of it. It was a show by the band Gwar. It actually even has some fake blood on the sketch that was a part of Gwar’s very theatrical performance.” He was committed to drawing shows from then on.  

His “Fight Club” rules for concert drawings: 

  1. Drawing begins on arrival at the concert 
  2. When the show is wrapped, the drawing is wrapped too. No going back for finishing touches or to add color.  

HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED: Join Brian at his Show Drawn exhibition & book release this Saturday, Oct. 26 from 4-11 p.m. The exhibition will also feature live musical performances from local bands and DJs.  

For those who arrive early, Brian will be giving out sketchbooks to be used to illustrate the bands as they are performing. This is your chance to put yourself in Brian’s shoes for what he considers an ideal Saturday night: Drawing a show.

By The New Tropic Creative Studio
The WhereBy.Us Creative Studio helps clients big and small engage locals, through campaigns that use creative marketing, storytelling, events, and activations to build community, conversation, and impact.