Artists’ Career Paths: Josie Beszant
Case Study 3
Josie Beszant, Mixed Media Artist: Masham
Where did you train and/or how did you begin your career as an artist?
I didn’t have a conventional start as an artist. I wasn’t in a position to go to art school and after ‘A’ levels left to work in a high security psychiatric hospital in the occupational therapy department. I had always obsessively drawn and painted – encouraged by my grandfather who was a very competent draughtsman. I had taken part in local shows from a young age and sold a number of pieces in my teens, and bought art with the profits! I moved to the dales aged 19 and started selling work regularly at craft fairs and small shops. I did all sorts of additional odd jobs to keep myself from starvation! So there was no real start, just a gradual evolution, it has taken many years.
What was most helpful to you in the early days of establishing yourself as a successful practitioner?
In the early days I met a few artists who were practising full time, spending time talking to them was wonderfully helpful. I also met the sculptor/gallery owner Peter Hibberd who gave me my first proper gallery space. He was tremendously supportive and encouraging. Getting a studio space was great although it came later on, it helped me work larger and take my work more seriously.
What do you think have been the most important /pivotal events or moments which established you as a successful practitioner?
Pivotal moments for me have been when early on I decided it was the most important thing to make art for myself. It was important to move to emotionally expressive work and it gave it depth and strength. The first solo exhibition where I was able to control the environment in which my work was shown was fantastic and helped teach me more about what I was trying to say through my work and where I wanted to go next.
Is there anything you would have done differently or you wish you had avoided?
I try not to regret anything! Even those things that in retrospect could’ve been avoided or handled differently have all taught me valuable lessons.
What advice would you give to someone starting out now who is working in your medium?
A large studio…?! I think for all artists it’s important to try and work out what they are trying to say. For me it’s incredibly important to learn your craft, to spend time learning skills and techniques that will serve your art, the learning never stops.
Do you have any particular ambitions for the future?
Yes. Quite a few but I’ll work steadily and quietly on them, it might jinx them to discuss them here!