Julian Beever: The secret to his success


Comparing his career options to the "attractiveness of a prison," he was inspired by a juggler at Stone Henge and soon set up an act where he learned the ins and outs of managing street performances.

He learned in particular that the streets offered a freedom that he wanted. There were no captive audiences, no implied contracts, a range of canvases on which to draw.

Responding to a question about what he's learned about people, he says they "like things they can understand quickly." He's developed an understanding of popular taste as a result.

Chalk drawings in front of Westminster interested him because he believed he could draw at least as well. Traveling around with some basic art supplied in Avon-on-Stratford. He learned that "lifeless things," "buildings" didn't prompt payment. Drawing famous beautiful people, however, did. "Get the eyes perfectly." Had he lived in Louisville, he would have done Muhammed Ali.

He eventually settled in Brussels where the pavement canvass were perfect and the police accommodating. In one particular street, he began to incorporate physical structures into his work and developed his unique 3-D perspective prior to the pavers being removed. And before THAT happened, he was able to do some of his unique images to market to companies wanted to advertise - including his now well known images of Coke bottles. Having lost the pavers and having failed to get significant offers for his work, he got a real job teaching English as a second language.

One or two years later, his work was noticed on a web site created by his girlfriend and he began to get offers for his work. And soon thereafter, he was able to take the step of doing his unique art full time. Concluding, he says he came along when the Web was becoming popular, and that he's proud that his success isn't owed to critics.

Responding to a question about his drawing he says that his primary end is now a photograph, not necessarily a street audience, though because of his notoriety people are willing to take the time to view his street work through the fixed viewfinder in order to experience the 3-D effect.

He also briefly explained how he uses perspective to create his work, saying that over time, he's been able to do more sustained work with fewer references to the fixed camera to judge the 3-D effect.

Through all, he stresses how he was often anxious, unsure, insecure at night - though the freedom of the day kept him going. Unlike his drawings, his success was not planned.

Julian is working outside the Kentucky Center throughout the IdeaFestival.