Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pavement Chalk Artist: Julian Beever

Struck by an idea that came to him while walking on a street in Brussels, Julian Beever decided to convert an emptied garden into a swimming pool using sidewalk chalk. He discovered that certain uses of perspective "could make things appear to go into the pavement...[and] could equally make them appear to stand out of it." Since then, the artist has been playing with 3-dimensional forms and ways to integrate interactivity to his works.

Image result for julian beever

When he first began to experiment with making pavement drawings 3-dimensional in the 1990's, Beever pursued his interest out of curiosity and enjoyment of chalk as a medium. This intrinsic motivation within a creative is expanded on in Collins and Amabile's article, Motivation and Creativity. Stating that "early theorists contend that a crucial part of creativity was a deep love for and enjoyment  of the tasks undertaken," the inherent desire to innovate coincides with the origins of Beever's recognizable art style (Collins & Amabile, 298). 

Furthermore, the process of creating one of his signature pieces requires previous sketches and frequent references to the sole vantage point that creates the intended multidimensional effect. Since the illusion requires a particular perspective, a carefully positioned camera is used to capture the fabricated depth of a piece during its construction. When viewers move away from this intentional viewpoint, the image is distorted and the 3-dimensional effect is lost. 

While his "anamorphic" drawings gained him worldwide fame in the early 2000's, Beever had begun his professional career in art by creating portraits of well known people that "worked best in getting attention from passers-by." This eye-catching feature of his artwork still remains in his latest commissions. 

Nowadays, Beever is in great demand from corporate businesses and has worked worldwide to promote commercial products with his artwork. He does, however, continue to create original works of pavement drawings for his own satisfaction. Placing great importance on the accessibility of his artwork, Beever has said that "[his] work appeals to the man [and woman] in the street and is not confined in galleries." This use of external validation is not detrimental to his work since, as new theories suggest, "any extrinsic factors that support one's sense of competence without undermining one's sense of self-determination should positively contribute to intrinsic motivation." (306) 

Known as the "Pavement Picasso," Beever humbly rejects the title and recognizes the internet as the source of his swift rise in popularity. Since chalk on pavement is an ultimately temporary choice of media, the legacy of his artwork depends on the perpetuation brought from interactivity between each piece and its viewers. Thanks to modern technology and social media, there are no concerns that this innovative art style will be forgotten despite rainy days and faded original works.

Beever's work on the Aveeno Campaign:

References Cited: http://www.julianbeever.net/index.phpoption=com_content&view=article&id=3&Itemid=4

Collins, M. A., & Amabile, T. M. (1999). Motivation and creativity. In Robert J. Sternberg (Ed.) Handbook of Creativity. New York: Cambridge University Press.


  1. This makes me want to go outside and draw on the pavement. But then, I wonder what Beever would think of my stick figures. Where does he practices his chalk drawings? Is his neighborhood covered in trial images? This is such a cool post, thanks for sharing it!

  2. I really like how you posted the video as well. This was awesome to see how he actually creates these dioramas as opposed to just seeing the finished products. He should look into doing drawings on the inside of buildings with concrete floors, so his work can be preserved for longer than the next rainfall.

  3. The really interesting thing, like the author mentioned, is the lack of permanence that comes with using chalk. The medium lets people on the street interact and appreciate the art much more than if they were forced to visit a museum. Thus, the complete reliance on technology to spread the art also has the neat result of preserving this art. Altogether, the choice of art form, coupled with the skill of the artist (especially with perspective), truly showcases his creative. Great read, thanks for posting.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.