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One of the founders and first president of the Cowboy Artists of America, Phippen began his career as a self-taught illustrator, later establishing a ranch, studio, and foundry in Skull Valley. According to the inimitable Don Hedgpeth writing in his 1972 article for the OS Ranch Committee, Phippen was called ‘The Cowboy's Artist’ because his cowboys look like men we have known. “They aren't handsome but they sure did know cow.”
The first president of the Cowboy Artists of America, George Phippen is known as a traditional Western painter and sculptor. He was born on a farm in Iowa and was raised there and in Kansas. He taught himself to paint while in service during World War II.
After finishing his stint in the military, Phippen moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he studied with Henry Balink for three months. Successful as a commercial artist and illustrator, he began oil painting in 1948 while selling works for Christmas cards and calendars.