Ilia Beshkov was born in Dolni Dabnik in central northern Bulgaria. Between 1918 and 1920 he attended the Faculty of Law of Sofia University and then worked as a teacher in Dolni Dabnik for a while. He eventually studied painting at the Nationall Academy of Arts, and became known as the "Bulgarian Daumier".
As a student, Beshkov drew caricatures for magazines like Maskarad, Div Dyado, Balgaran, Starshel and Vik and also illustrated for the publishing houses T. F. Chipev and Hemus. From 1925 on, he cooperated with Pladne magazine, and was arrested twice for his political views.
He founded the newspaper Sturshel (Hornet) in 1940, and published in it without signature or pseudonym. One of his best known comic characters was 'Spekulanta Maks'. Beshkov taught at the National Academy of Arts, and was therefore an influence for most Bulgarian comic artists and writers. He headed the Department of Graphics until his death in 1958. The art gallery in Pleven is named in his honour.