A lot has happened in the career of 34-year-old artist Drew Beson since Edina Magazine last wrote about him in October 2008. For one, he is no longer active in the FRESH Marketing Group he founded to help promote his work. “My art has been successful enough that I can now do it full time,” he says. It’s a relief and a pleasure for him, of course, but also for collectors who have bought his paintings. “The more I sell at higher price points,” he explains, “the more the work is valued.”
What a difference seven years makes. The interval included three years in a Minneapolis skyway gallery/studio. “My mother always told me I should work downtown so I could make friends,” Beson says, and he admits he met many people working in a setting with 30,000 passersby per day. “It was great to have a space with such visibility, to interact with so many people and talk art.” But there were challenges: $300 a month to park, lots of distractions, inconvenient transport of art materials and Beson’s characteristically “over the balcony”-sized paintings (a reference to the only way they could, on occasion, be moved into a collector’s home). “It was difficult to maintain a reliable practice of making work,” he says.
All of these factors motivated his 2015 move to a new studio in Edina. With 4,300 square feet and full-wall glass on three sides providing “tons of natural light,” the first-floor space has a dedicated entrance. “It’s easy to bring stuff in and out,” says Beson. He dedicates its capacity according to need: all studio, all gallery or any combination. “It’s great for events,” he says. He has no computer on-site and sees potential clients on an appointment-only basis. While he has been “fully committed to the practice of painting” for a decade, Beson feels he is now, here in Edina, maximally productive and “making [his] best work.”
There’s another reason the new space is optimizing Beson’s productivity: now that he works and lives in Edina (in the former home of his grandmother), when he needs to add an element to a work in progress at 7 a.m. or long after dark, “it’s very convenient to live less than 10 minutes away,” he says. Beson jokes about living in Edina “because it gets plowed first,” but accessibility is key. Living and working in Edina has allowed him to act, for example, on his girlfriend’s advice to bring artwork home for assessing its “look” in a residential setting.
His creative process is one that can require many sessions with each piece. Often starting with a custom-made wooden panel, he applies acrylic paint with carefully selected chemical additives so it will behave in a wide variety of ways. The timing of paint applications (perhaps one hour later, perhaps many), the stages in which he applies them and the combinations of elements in use all contribute to the originality of each piece. The final stage of his process for many pieces is a hand-poured resin finish that can be up to a quarter-inch thick. “The surface is very reflective, and the colors have great depth,” says Beson. Developing his own process has occasionally been “maddening,” he admits, “but it’s energizing to find different ways to get the paint to behave differently.”
Images of Beson’s paintings can be found on his website, besonart.com. For the smitten, there are a number of ways to become a Drew Beson art collector. Make an appointment at the studio to see Beson’s work up close. Buy a painting he’s completed, or commission one. For commissions, says Beson, “I like best to know the space it’s going to fill. I like to get a sense of the environment in which it will live.” While he generally works large, he also does smaller pieces. And if you’d love a painting for your home or office but the price is a barrier, Beson is happy to discuss rental or leasing-to-own. “I have a lot of flexibility,” he says. “My gallery connects me directly with my collectors.”