Julian Beever is an English pavement artist renowned for creating trompe-l’oeil chalk drawings using a projection technique called anamorphosis; this creates the illusion of three dimensions when viewed from the correct angle. (The photo on the left is actually a pavement drawing).
He explains, “I love working outdoors, I love the feeling of freedom that it gives. After leaving Art College, I started street entertaining with a Punch and Judy Show and that’s when I first saw pavement artists working outside York Minster. I thought ‘I can do that’, and as I also wanted to travel, I went to Australia and New Zealand using my pavement art to just about cover my costs. I learnt that drawing what people wanted to see got the most money in the hat, so in the States I would draw Abraham Lincoln and George Washington and in the UK, Princess Diana was always a favorite.”
“My first anamorphic 3D drawing was of a girl in a swimming pool and I took a photo of it so it looked as though I was actually getting into the pool as well. It was really effective and I realised that things looked really good coming out of or going into the ground. I tried to get big companies to commission my work for advertising but no one was interested, times got hard and I left pavement drawing for more conventional jobs. Years later with the introduction of the Internet, pictures of my earlier work started being shown around the World and suddenly big companies approached me to do commissions for them. I eventually got the work I had always wanted. The key point for me was the Internet, I was lucky.”
Earning the name Pavement Picasso, Julian has worked all over the World, “South America was the best. I think when countries that aren’t very affluent are given or shown something like fine art they are really appreciative. In contrast, the Americans have everything and it’s like another pearl to the swine for them,” he laughs.
“Lots of my pictures are inspired by Nature; I like to think they capture amazement and give that same wondrous feeling that Nature provides. I try to recapture childhood wonder and the wonder of things in general. The picture of a crab on a line on my website is my favourite.”
“I have been commissioned by the Hilton Group to work in Shanghai soon and they have warned me that crowd control on the streets in China is difficult. I’m expecting it to be chaotic. The drawings don’t last very long once I have left as people just walk over them but the picture on the pavement is just a vehicle; the final product is a photo of the picture. That lasts forever and can go right around the World.”
You can see more of Julian’s artwork in his new book Pavement Chalk Artist available from www.fireflybooks.com.