Philip Sugden was born and raised in Swanage, Dorset, England. With his mother and brother, he traveled to America on Her Majesty's Ship, The Queen Elizabeth I in December, 1954. He currently lives in Findlay, Ohio where he has a studio.
Philip studied painting in Paris under French painter, Arnaud D'Hauterives (winner Grand Prix de Rome). Since graduation from the New York School of Visual Arts and the Paris American Academie des Beaux Arts in Paris in 1981, Sugden has made twelve journeys throughout the Himalaya and Tibet, including the Kingdom of Mustang and Ladakh. In May, 2007, he and writer, Carole Elchert were married by Lama Nawang Tenzin at Tengboche Monastery near Mt. Everest.
Philip and his wife have traveled to about 50-countries including circling Iceland four times, climbed Ben Nevis, Scotland, traveled the Orient Express from London to Istanbhul and hitched overland to India, trekked to base camp on both sides of Mt. Everest, with his wife, hosted the Dalai Lama in their home and his studio.
During the 1980's, Phil was an adjunct professor at the University of Findlay and taught for about 8 years in the Lima Correctional Institution and the Allen County Institution.
In 1990, he and his wife were awarded grants from the Ohio Joint Projects in the Arts and Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities, to create a Public Television presentation and companion book based on their 1988 Cultural Arts Expedition to the Himalaya and Tibet. As guests of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile, they spent six-months in Tibetan communities throughout India, Nepal, Ladakh, and Tibet, gathering images and recordings for the production entitled, White Lotus, An Introduction to Tibetan Culture, (companion book published by Snow Lion, 1991). During that trip Sugden completed 165 ink drawings on location some of which were used in the book.
In 1991, Sugden and Elchert organized the Dalai Lama's two-day visit to their home in Findlay, Ohio, with a speaking engagement at The University of Findlay, where both were faculty at the time. While visiting Sugden’s studio, the Dalai Lama accepted one Philip’s drawings created on location in Tibet and two of his wife's Cibachrome photographs shot in Tibet.
As the guest curator at the Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York City, Sugden organized a six-month series of exhibitions, opening with a solo show of Tibetan Locks and Keys, silk-screens by Robert Rauschenberg, celebrating the 1991 International Year of Tibet. In the summer of 1998 he was invited to include, in an exhibition at the Denis Bibro Gallery in New York City, one of his largest installation drawings. The exhibit was sponsored by Artists for Tibet as part of "Art Against Chinese Human Right Abuses."
Philip's drawings have been published in an exquisite, full-color exhibition catalog entitled, Visions from the Fields of Merit; Drawings of Tibet and the Himalayas. The book includes a Forward written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Daniel Entin, Executive Director of the Roerich Museum, NYC.
Sugden’s work has been exhibited in more than 100 solo and 130 group shows internationally including galleries and museums in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Washington DC, Melbourne, and Kathmandu. He is currently a Professor of Studio Art and Gallery Director at Bluffton University.
Since 2015, Philip, with his wife, have been producing and directing the documentary entitled, "Activismo; Art & Dissidence in Cuba." The two went to Cuba on a "scholarly research" visa with a small film crew and interviewed Tania Brugeura, Jose Angel Toriac, Jose Vincench, Juan Si Gonzalez and Geandy Pavon. The documentary will be released in the late summer of 2019.
In March 2019, Phil was was the first visual artist to be inducted onto the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts Wall of Fame.