Becky Fos First Jazz Fest Weekend, Tent U, Congo Square
Westbank hairdresser Becky Fos’ attempt at making “real money” (she went to court reporting school 2009-2014) surprisingly led to a real career in art and a brand-new gallery on Magazine Street.
“Everyone said court reporting was a great job,” Fos, who has a young son, remembers. “Good for stay-at-home moms. You can spend a lot of time with your kid. Just go take a deposition and go home, transcribe, make a lot of money.”
But despite the fact that Fos excelled in school and types 225 words a minute, she never passed the test to get her license.
“I got so nervous my hands would start to shake,” Fos said. “You’re typing in this itty-bitty box with black keys and my fingers would graze the wrong key. I tried beta blockers, I tried everything.”
So Fos started painting to relieve stress. With cheap supplies from Michael’s, Fos and her son would spread boards and acrylic paints on the kitchen floor and go at it for hours.
“I thought, ‘This will help me in court reporting,’” Fos said. “And then people started trying to buy my art off of Facebook. ‘You can’t have this, it’s my family portrait.’”
Working with a frame shop in Gretna, Fos got a kick out of framing the art she was painting on boards purchased for $30 by the 10-pack. One day, Terrance Osborne stopped by the same frame shop with some work that he needed framed and saw one of Fos’ smaller pieces, a purple-and-pink cow face.
“When I went to pick it up, they said someone wanted to buy it,” Fos remembers. “And I said, ‘It’s not for sale. It’s for Jude’s room.’ But then I learned that it was Terrance who wanted it, and Terrance could have it. He traded me for a $3,000 giclée.”
At that time, Osborne became somewhat of a mentor for Fos. He taught her how to price her work and encouraged her to take herself more seriously as an artist.
“I have a bad issue with money,” Fos said. “You see, I painted Morgus, and this girl wanted it for her dad. ‘I really want Morgus for my dad for Christmas, because Morgus is his favorite. How much is it?’ So I said, ‘How much do you want to spend on it?’ She’s like, ‘A hundred?’ So I took $100. And when I told Terrance, he told me to stop or he wouldn’t help me anymore. And he really helped me. You tell people how much the art is, and they’ll either buy it, or they don’t.”
So far, this strategy has been working pretty well for Fos, who will be an exhibiting artist at Jazz Fest this year for the first time during the first weekend at Congo Square. Fos is excited to be part of the Festival, and is working hard on getting her booth together.
“My paintings are big, so they take up a lot of space,” Fos said. “I don’t like to paint small—I wish I did, my husband would like me to—but I have a ‘large’ problem.”
That, it might seem, is a good problem to have.