Meet the Artist Series (Week 2): Billy Simms

By: Jeff Gambrell- Butler County Connect

BUTLER COUNTY, OH – Being an accomplished artist requires a great deal of heart
and imagination. Something that not everyone is cut out to have. Artist Billy Simms of
Oxford, Ohio certainly lacks neither of these. Through his artwork, Simms has
demonstrated a great deal of talent working with multiple media including printmaking,
puppet making, drawing, sculpture as well as mixed media. In his spare time, he even
designs his own custom hats that are crafted almost entirely out of upcycled materials.
The material he uses is supplied by ZeroLandfill Cincinnati, a nonprofit organization that
collects samples/swatches, carpet books, fabrics, etc. that are either repurposed or
recycled.

Simms first discovered his passion for printmaking back in 2000 after taking a workshop
on it while living in Gainesville, Florida with his wife. From that point on, his interest took
off. “When I finished my graduate degree at Miami University in 2017, I pursued starting
a printmaking co-op”, says Simms. “The big problem with that was where to do it as
building space and equipment is expensive”. Simms soon found himself along an
alternate path at Hamilton’s Fitton Center for Creative Arts who provided the equipment
for him to instruct evening adult courses. He then went on to teach these courses at
Miami University and its Western College.

Simms will be featured during a show at Pyramid Hill in June 2021 as he curates and
exhibits the work of seven folk artists from Craftowne, Maryland. It is a continuation of
his previous work, Craftowne: A Visual Novel, and will employ multiple art media. “I try
to bridge the gap between gallery art, theatre, and graphic novels”, describes Simms. “I
created this world and most of my future work will be an aspect of this town”. The town
is symbolic of the community Simms grew up in and the impression it left on him as a
developing artist.

Simms earned a BA in Theatrical Scenic and Lighting Design from the University of
Maryland Baltimore County, a MS in Special Education from The John Hopkins
University, and a MFA in Studio Art from Miami University. He continues to instruct
courses locally and is excited about the direction Hamilton is heading. “I’m excited about
the art scene in Hamilton. I feel as though we are becoming a legitimate arts
community”. For inquiries about his artwork or custom hats currently for sale, Simms
can be reached at billysimmsart.wordpress.com.

Meet the Artist is a ten-part series spanning from the week of September 27 –
November 29th. Each week, a different artist residing in Butler County will be featured
showcasing their talent and commitment to their community. These individuals go above

and beyond the call to use their talents to bring positive change to those around them.
All artists were selected via a nomination process made available to the general public
through Butler County Connect.