Blitt grew up in Côte Saint-Luc, Quebec, a municipality on the Island of Montreal. The artist's first publication credit came at age 16: a series of drawings in the Philadelphia Flyers 1974 yearbook. He graduated from The Ontario College of Art and Design and moved to the US in 1989.
Blitt's illustration work has been featured by publications such as The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic and others.
The artist is also well known for illustrating Frank Rich's Sunday op-ed column in the New York Times. Regarding that work, Rich is quoted as saying, "It's a long-distance collaboration – me in New York City, Barry in Connecticut – but one of the most satisfying I've had in my career."
Many of Blitt's New Yorker covers have been finalists for the Cover of the Year from the American Society of Magazine Editors, including, in 2008, Narrow Stance and I'll Get It!,First Anniversary in 2010, and The Book of Life in 2012.
Blitt is also credited with animation design by Saturday Night LiveOnce Upon a Time, the End (Asleep in 60 Seconds) by Geoffrey Kloske, Simon & Schuster (2005)
The 39 Apartments of Ludwig Van Beethoven by Jonah Winter, Schwartz & Wade (2006)
What's the Weather Inside? by Karma Wilson, Simon & Schuster (2009)
The Adventures of Mark Twain by Huckleberry Finn by Robert Burleigh, Simon & Schuster (2011)
George Washington's Birthday (a mostly true tale) by Margaret McNamara, Random House (2012)
The Founding Fathers!Those Horse-Ridin', Fiddle-Playin', Book-Readin', Gun-Totin' Gentlemen Who Started America by Jonah Winter Simon & Schuster (2015)
Baby's First Tattoo: A Memory Book for Modern Parents by Jim Mullen, Simon & Schuster (2002)
Blown Covers by Françoise Mouly, Abrams Publishing (2012)
Les Usherwood Lifetime Achievement Award 2016
Cover of the Year for Deluged published by The New Yorker, awarded by The American Society of Magazine Editors (2006)
Art Directors Club, Hall of Fame (2012)
Work showcased at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Museum of American Illustration in New York
Blitt's 2008 New Yorker cover depicting Michelle and Barack Obama standing in the Oval Office was labeled "tasteless and offensive" by Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton. A campaign spokesman for Senator John McCain also condemned the art. In the cover art, Obama is shown wearing traditional Muslim clothes, including sandals, robe and turban. His wife, Michelle is shown dressed in camouflage, combat boots and has an assault rifle over her shoulder. Behind them, an American flag is burning in the fireplace. Titled The Politics of Fear, the cover satirized the rumors about Obama and his wife as he ran for the presidency.
The controversial art was covered by numerous media outlets including the Los Angeles Times, PBS and others. In defense of the art, Eric Bates of Rolling Stone was quoted as saying, "I don't think it (The New Yorker) crossed the line. I would question whether there's much of a line to be crossed. I think their intent was clear, but I think it's clear from the response that a lot of people didn't get the joke." The New York Times called it the most memorable image of the 2008 presidential campaign, and Françoise Mouly, the Art Editor of the New Yorker, said she was "extremely proud" of the piece. Regarding the controversy, Blitt was quoted as saying "Anytime I produce a cover, I always regret it afterward".
The cover art was parodied later the same year by Entertainment Weekly, with a photograph by Jake Chessum featuring Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
In spite of the controversy and condemnation by the Obama campaign, after taking office President Barack Obama chose one of Blitt's New Yorker covers to hang in the White House. The cover depicts the President picking the family dog at the same time as he is vetting candidates for his national security cabinet. Additionally, President Obama requested and received a signed New Yorker cover by the artist, which depicts the President walking on water.
Blitt currently resides in Connecticut His younger brother, Ricky Blitt, is a screenwriter, based in West Hollywood.
Blitt is married to Angie Silverstein.