The boy Ricky Beckjord was always whittling things but he first grasped his vocation for sculpture in high school, when he studied under Cabot Lyford at Phillips Exeter Academy. Lyford encouraged him to carve wood figures and to try clay, plaster, stone and metal.
He set this focus aside to stretch his mind in the liberal arts at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota, where he studied writing and majored in economics. This, and later work in History at the University of Maine, rewarded him with the ability to think.
After college he pursued writing as general assignment reporter for a weekly newspaper in Halstad, Minnesota, though he gradually moved into advertising sales. He left the newspaper and went into a partnership to start an advertising shopper in Minneapolis and St. Paul. After two years of terrific effort he realized that he was unwilling to commit the time and resources needed for success at this endeavor and that he wanted to go back to sculpture without first having made a fortune in business.
He moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts where he had the good fortune to resume carving with the wood sculptor Nathaniel Burwash. He moved to Maine in 1980 to work on his own.
In 1984 he saw that he needed training in drawing, clay modeling and anatomy and began re-schooling. He studied at the Cambridge (Mass.) Center for Adult Education and the Art Institute of Boston. He earned a second bachelors degree, majoring in fine art, at the University of Maine at Orono. Finally, he went to The Art Students League of New York, though he also learned bronze casting at the now defunct Sculpture Center School and ceramic sculpture at Hunter College.
At the League, he served as monitor for the Sidney Simon class and won a McDowell grant, which enabled him to visit the great museums of London and Paris and to carve marble for five months in Pietrasanta, Tuscany. In 1998 he left New York to work on his own, year-round, in Sullivan.
Before this course of study he needed to use and adapt ready-made models for carving. Upon its completion he found himself able to devise his own models and inform them with his own drawings. When he began, he knew only to carve wood, but now he also works in stone, and prepares models for bronze casting.