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JAMES BILLITER  Paper and Printing

“Celebrate our city’s great civic pride”

James Billiter has been a designer and illustrator for nearly 20 years, and got into printmaking about five years ago. However, one could say that he’s been pursuing art for a long time. As a child, he’d often draw alongside his mother, a commercial artist/designer, while she worked at her drafting table. Later, he majored in design at UC DAAP, with a minor in art history.


James’ works that we carry at Gallery 708 highlight his love for Cincinnati and the history of design. What sets his work apart from other artists depicting the city, is his experience with graphic design—“I consider graphic design the marriage of image with typography to communicate a message”. 


Printmaking has allowed James to “elevate graphic design to a fine art through attention to craftsmanship”: James chooses his papers and inks carefully because as he says, “they can add so much beauty and finesse to a piece”. What one can also appreciate about his works is the level of detail and complexity! His prints grab you from a distance, but also offer so much more to hold on to as you approach them. James thrives on challenging himself, pushing the limits of what a printmaker can do, simultaneously being an artist and student!


In talking about his work, James shares, “My ‘heritage-style’ of very intricate illustrations of architectural landmarks is inspired by great draftsmen and architects like Samuel Hannaford. My other style is a playful geometric pop-art illustration style that is influenced by artists like Keith Herring, Mike Perry and Charley Harper”. James’ process begins with research, content development, and illustration. Then, he creates custom headline typography, and includes design elements like borders, patterns, and monograms. Inks and papers are chosen, and the printing process begins!


For the month of February, to celebrate love, James has created ‘Queen City Love’, a fun image of Cincinnati’s skyline placed in a heart. Letter-pressed prints and cards and larger screen-printed posters have now been produced. Attached is a video showing the making of th heart print.


Stop by Gallery 708, and get your James Billiter!


Images ©James Billiter

Written by Priya Rama for Gallery 708

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