Meet our Transparency Illustrator: James Billiter
It has been a tradition at CreativeMornings to work with an artist in our community to create an illustration for the monthly theme. October is all about Transparency, and the interview with this month’s illustrator allows us into his creative mind.
Every time, without fail, we are delighted at the talent and beauty that these artists create. These images are everywhere — in 150+ chapters' social media channels and at the events.
While the artwork speaks for itself, we wanted to get to know the artist on a personal level, which is why we’ll be interviewing all of them from now on. It only feels right.
Meet James Billiter
James Billiter is a Cincinnati native who combines his passions for Graphic Design and History into unique art prints. He started Billiter Studio to pursue his love for custom typography, pattern, and illustration. Inspired by Art History, Billiter Studio takes an “applied art” approach to design: once a concept is developed for an audience, Billiter brings these ideas to life through hand-crafted methods. Billiter uses his experience in printmaking, sign painting, ceramics and sculpture to capture his interests in subjects such as architecture, nature, cycling, music, and beer brewing.
How did you get into illustration work?
I never pursued illustration in school. As a young professional, I lucked into a couple projects that called for illustration and I really loved the challenge of illustration — the ability to create an image or an idea not dependent upon “reality” and photography.
How has your work evolved over time and what were some influences that caused it?
As a Cincinnatian, I grew up with the work of Charley Harper, a mid-century illustrator based in Cincinnati. His simplification of the image into a simple geometric, colorful forms has really inspired me. It’s been amazing to see that style gain traction over the last decade. As I mature, I am interesting to see how my style will evolve and where I can become more unique through my personal experience and experimentation with printmaking.
At what point in your life did you realize that illustration was your calling?
I’ve been doing illustration for almost 15 years and only in the last year have I considered myself an illustrator. I look up to so many people I always felt like a student of the medium. But it finally clicked that I love what I do and I won’t be stopping anytime soon.
Tell me about the happiness moment in your career. Describe the feeling, the moment—bring us there.
Discovering printmaking was a real well-spring of inspiration. Screenprinting compliments my illustrations and has helped me perfect my style. I found it very rewarding to start working with my hands and to use printing techniques to continue the creative process.
What advice would you give to fellow illustrators and artists?
I love to go through cycles of focus on personal work then commissioned work. Personal projects allow me to think introspectively about my process and style, then client work allows me to stretch and test these ideas.
If you could open a door to anywhere, where would you go? Why?
I would love to open a door to Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s studio. He was an artist who suffered so much failure in his career, yet he continued to pursue his work. But also, I bet there was some pretty crazy things that happened in that studio!
What’s next for you?
I am excited about a few future personal projects where I plan to stretch my design abilities across several design disciplines. I’m interested in designing utilitarian objects as a way to compliment my current decorative artwork. I am planning to use my illustration as a way to compliment the objects and add delight.
Tell us something about yourself that we can’t find on Google.
A lot of my beer artwork and art prints are inspired my knowledge of beer gained through home-brewing. Unfortunately I wasn’t very good and I decided to focus my efforts on my artwork!