Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Recent Q&A with Priya Rama of Gallery 708

How long have you been an artist/designer?

I have been a designer and illustrator for nearly 20 years, and have been printmaking for the past five years. I also minored in art history and my work often references the past 150 years of graphic design.

What in your youth/childhood helped you decide to become an artist/printmaker?

My mother was a commercial artist/designer when I was young and I would often draw while she worked at a drafting table.

Has your work changed over the years? How so?

I like to continually challenge myself with greater difficulties and increasing the amount of detail in my work.

Tell us more about your process.

Printmaking allows for me to elevate graphic design to a fine art through attention to craftsmanship. The creative process doesn't end with the image — paper and ink can add so much beauty and finesse to a piece.

I love to create an image that stops the viewer at a distance, and continues to delight them with fine levels of detail as they get closer to my work.

I research my subject matter and develop content. Typically I take between 10 to 20 hours to illustrate my prints. I then spend around another 5 hours to create custom headline typography. I also like to include other design elements like borders, patterns, monograms.

How is your work different than other artists doing Cincinnati-themed works?

My career as a graphic designer is what makes my work different than other artists depicting Cincinnati. I consider graphic design the marriage of image with typography to communicate a message.

Whose works are you influenced by?

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.

For your "love" series, what's your process, technique and how do you choose images to go in the heart?
For the Queen City Love, I thought it would be a fun image to place our skyline in a heart as a way to celebrate our city's great civic pride. I have created an initial run of letterpressed prints and cards with Rachael Hetzel of Pistachio Press as well as a run of larger screenprinted posters I made in my new studio in Northside.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Customer Testimonial

"I was going to use 99 Designs, but MY MOM LOVES James Billiter"

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Artist versus Designer, chess-boxin Shaolin style!

Chris Breeden from Arnold's Bar & Grill reached out last summer and invited me to be part of a Wu Tang Clan themed art show at Frameshop.

For the past year I have been very intrigued with portraiture. I've always felt that I have not truly learned how to draw the human form well, and the artist side of my head feels that landscape art and portraiture are these classic subject matters that I should explore in my work to gain commissions someday.

My first focus was Method Man and I began approaching the project with the perspective of a Graphic Designer. I wanted to incorporate borders, and type, and be inspired by traditional printmaking techniques to add small graphic details. As I got into the project, I visited the Cincinnati Art Museum's "Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth" and it inspired my original thought of the details and turned the Wu Tang logo into a halftone pattern. The sky behind Method Man glitters with dots inspired by Pisarro and Van Gogh's Starry Night.

I took the W from the Wu Tang Clan logo and used it to facet Method Man's face. This was inspired by a bit of Art Deco, and perhaps some of the African sculptures I used to collect where the human form is broken down into geometric simplicity.

My major critique is in my abstraction I lost a lot of Method Man's actual likeness in the work.

At some point, things were looking really bad with the progress of Method Man. So in only a few hours I was able to illustrate a portrait of Rza by hand. Using ProCreate on the iPad I was able to draw Rza from composite photos, and create a background pattern inspired by Japanese prints (referring back to Shaolin culture and Kung Fu movies that inspired the Wu Tang Clan).

I created a black and white portrait of Rza, and isolate the background pattern in gold. In some ways this approach was partially inspired by the work of Kehinde Wiley as well as those 19th century Japanese print makers. 

Once in the studio, I painted the skin tones of Rza with watercolor inks on the screen, and created a small series of 3 monoprints. You can see the process of making the prints here: Path to process video on Vimeo

This was an experiment to see how I could capture the human form in a unique way, but also possibly how to create work for commission some day. The Method Man is more unique, but took an entire week of time to produce. Rza is more gestural and actually captures the likliness better, and only took two days to create. The price would estimatedly be $1600 versus $4000 for a patron in the future.

At the end, it felt wrong to take money as an artist using the image of another person I don't know personally without permission. So, it felt best to donate 100% of my profits to Elementz, a Cincinnati-based non-profit created to foster Hip Hop Culture for future generations.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Semi-Lame Inspirational Quotes

I've been listening to Garrison Keilor's Writer's Almanac a lot lately. In his "on this day" segments Keilor often departs bits of wisdom that feel like fragments of broken mirrors where I catch glimmers of the reflections of my experiences. Okay, too heavy handed there...

"Do not wait: the time will never be 'just right.' Start where you stand, and work whatever tools you may have at your command and better tools will be found as you go along."

Napoleon Hill
“Think and Grow Rich"

I feel like sometimes creatives can't get overwhelmed by the idea of perfection and take no action at all. I often feel like I am flying a plane that is not completely built, a ramshackle monstrosity that would tumble from the sky at any moment. I took solace in that quote, perhaps someday I will be more buttoned up.

"Find your own stress level — the speed at which you can run toward your own goal. Make sure that both the stress level and the goal are really your own, and not imposed upon you by society, for only you yourself can know what you want and how fast you can accomplish it. There is no point in forcing a turtle to run like a racehorse or in preventing a racehorse from running faster than a turtle because of some 'moral obligation.' The same is true of people."

Hans Selye

I've been overwhelmed by "saying yes to the universe" a bit too much. I had to start questioning why am I working so hard, and i it worth it. I am trying to slow down and really analyze why am I doing what I am doing and proceed on a smarter path. A famine of opportunity I have not.

Jane Kenyon
On writing poetry, Jane Kenyon said, “Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours.”

Stephan Dunn said: “I think one of my early motivations for writing was that other people’s versions of experience didn’t gel with my own. It was a gesture toward sanity to try to get the world right for myself. I’ve since learned that if you get it right for yourself, it often has resonance for others.”

And, “You must be a little driven, and what you’re doing must be crucial to you in order not to be defeated by the likely neglect that awaits you, the lack of rewards, and the fact that, by and large, your culture doesn’t take you seriously.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Meltdown 2017, part 1

I am dealing with a lot of questions in my own head right now. Found myself starting to do work for other people instead of myself. To sell art, means I have money to make more art. Honestly, inside I am insecure and at first the attention made me feel better about myself. Somehow, probably psychologically, hitting 40 last year made me more at ease with myself, feeling comfortable with who I am and who I am not. Over the holidays I spent a lot of my personal time delivering art to other people and I found myself completely unhappy. I plan to wrap up some freelance obligations (ugh, by June maybe?!?!) and hopefully disappear into the studio to explore who I am. I don't like to talk about myself too much, but I also hate the facade of perfection that social media and marketing conveys. I don't want younger artists to see a perfect facade and feel like they should give up.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Fat Tire Beer Poster

When: June 23, 2016 @ 6pm.
Artist: James Billiter. One of Cincinnati’s busiest artists right now, with shows all over town and a steady stream of art coming out. Billiter has done posters for bands Wussy, The Cincinnati Dancing Pigs, Jake Speed and the Freddies, Wild Leaves and more.
Event: Poster Release + Tappings of New Belgium/Rhinegeist Fat Tire Collaboration, Barrel Aged Mushushu and the super rare New Belgium Nitro Coffee Sour — Oscar Worthy Coffee.
New Belgium / Rhinegeist Fat Tire Collaboration: Rhinegeist has transformed Fat Tire into a Belgian XPA, combining a fruity Belgian yeast strain with bready-sweet European and Colorado malts for a beer to please hopheads and wine drinkers alike.
Rhinegeist Mushushu is a blend of four black beers aged in bourbon barrels for more than six months, this melange strikes a dynamic balance of wood character with the addition of coffee, vanilla and cocoa nibs. Panther Porter – 50% Bertha Milk Stout – 30% Ink Imperial Stout – 10% Panda Oatmeal Stout – 10%. ABV: 8.5%
New Belgium’s Oscar Worthy Coffee: Oscar Worthy Coffee. Three words, that when uttered, cause an almost Pavlovian drool response among New Belgium co-workers. Like our dry-hopped sour Le Terroir, Oscar Worthy Coffee is a beer unlike any other: It’s our sour Oscar “dry-beaned” with coffee in collaboration with Fort Collins friends The Bean Cycle. The result is an ultra-smooth sour beer that bursts with sour-and-espresso aromas, and it tastes like magic. ABV 6.7%