Having completed school, he studied fine art, illustration and graphic design for six years. The first two years of fine art and graphic design at Loughton College, Essex. A further three years at Brighton College of Art (obtaining a B. A. in illustration and graphic design) and the last year doing a post-graduate course at Central School of Art in London.
David worked for six months as a sculptor’s assistant in Brighton and sold his oil paintings of British birds through Windsor and Eton Fine Arts Gallery and Brighton Fine Arts Gallery. His illustrations were commissioned by Home and Garden Magazine.
Between 1971 and 1974 David was employed as a designer and illustrator by Mitchell Beazley Publishers in London, later to become Dorling Kindersley. During those years he helped produce artwork and illustrations for the largest visual art bank in the world.
Illustration for Fair Lady Magazine - Gouache and pen
Logo design for Fair Lady Magazine South Africa
In 1975 whilst working as an illustrator for a London based package Design Company David was offered the position of Art Director on a sports magazine published by Nasionale Pers in Cape Town, South Africa. He moved to Cape Town later that year and worked on Topsport Magazine before being asked to join Die Huisgenoot magazine as Art Director, his first task being to redesign the magazine and to illustrate a new section devoted to children. Once that was completed David moved on to Fair Lady magazine as a designer. During this period he continued to illustrate all of the Nasionale Pers magazines on a freelance basis and became Fair lady’s most popular fiction illustrator as well as redesigning their masthead logotype.
In 1979 David was lured into the advertising world having been offered a lucrative position as Art Director with BBDO in Cape Town. He subsequently moved to Campbell Ewald and then to Lindsay Smithers where he met and befriended another illustrator/Art Director, Barry Jackson, who is now a world renowned sculptor. David and Barry formed ‘Services Rendered’, an illustration studio that was to become a leading name in the advertising service industry, producing thousands of illustrations which appeared in advertising and on packaging throughout South Africa.
It was during this period of time that David was approached by the South African Philatelic Bureau to design and illustrate a set of stamps for South Africa. He ended up designing and illustrating ten sets in all for South Africa, Namibia, Transkei, Ciskie,Venda and Bophuthatswana. He was also illustrating the majority of the Readers Digest coffee table books. These included: The South African Coastline; The Atlas of the Road; South African Short Stories; multi Lingual Dictionary; Book of Home Improvements; S.A.car maintenance; The Illustrated history of South Africa; Your Gardening Questions Answered.
His illustrations in books for Struik Publishers (now Random House Struik) include: The Mammals of Southern Africa (37 paintings of our whales and dolphins); The Bushmen; Unexplained Mysteries of S.A.; Animals of the Kruger Park; Q and A Seashore Life; Q and A Fishes; Q and A Whales and Dolphins; Q and A Sharks; Pocket Guide to Common Sea Fishes; Pocket Guide to Seashore Life; Pocket Guide to Shells of S.A.; Top Angling Fishes of S.A.; The South African Fisherman; Field Guide to mammals of S.A.
As a result of the books dealing with sea life, David was asked to work on the Durban Ocean Aquarium’s in house brochures, illustrating many marine species and diagrams.
David eventually left ‘Services Rendered’ to pursue his love of design as well as illustration. He was asked to join Cosmopolitan magazine as a designer for special assignments and in-house design . At the same time he was offered a design position with the Janice Ashby Design Studio in Wynberg, Cape Town. Ashby’s was the top Packaging Design studio in Cape Town, and having redrawn Black & White Whisky's two famous dogs whilst in England in 1974, David set out to try his hand at South African packaging. Many brands in our local supermarkets and Liquor stores boast his illustrations. He won a Loerie award in the early eighties for best illustration to appear on a liquor label world-wide.
Three years later David decided to freelance once again. This time he moved to Plettenberg Bay, buying a smallholding in the Crags, where he continued illustrating books for a further two and a half years.
After twenty five years and thousands of published illustrations….David was burnt out. He closed his studio door, hung up his pencils and brushes and went into rose farming. For the next three years, he and his wife Fiona, produced some of the most exquisite long stem roses that the Garden route has ever seen. Many pricked and scratched arms later…….his fingers were itching to get back to the drawing board.
In 1994 he decided to concentrate on painting and produced enough work for a sell-out exhibition. David’s love of light and the paintings of Jan Vermeer led to many commissions of both watercolours and oils. His passion for architecture combined with the natural environment made him an obvious choice to paint interiors – six of which were captured at night with the gentle ambience of artificial light for Martin Rattray. He painted portraits, many of which hang in South African homes alongside his paintings of birds which he always paints in space with vast skies, rather than perched amongst a few leaves on an A4 size paper. His oil paintings of birds and game fish are found on walls in America,Germany,Australia,Holland ,England and many other countries as well as South Africa.
David has appeared in several magazine articles exhibiting his illustrations, oil paintings and water colours. Fair Lady, Home and Garden and Country Life have shown his oil paintings and water colours of what was once described as “that which other people walk past”- Renderings of terracotta pots bathed in light and sun dappled foliage. The coffee table book ‘Twenty of the Most Beautiful South African Homes’ shows a painting in a magnificent interior.
In 1996 David joined forces with an antique business, combining a painting studio (where he worked) with antiques and aviation art from England. It was during this time that he put together an exhibition of paintings depicting the cat and entered works into the Royal Academy in London.
From illustrations of exploded Rolls Royce Engines and auto fuse boxes, Zulu Battles and reconstructions of the original settlement around Kimberley Mine, David’s style loosened. His ‘craft’ has always been, and still is, extremely important to him. Drawing, drawing and more drawing! In his view: An artist is a person who can see, analyse what he sees, and convert three dimensions into two in the case of painting. Colour, theory and composition – perspective, both linear and atmospheric need to be understood. Even if an artist has no understanding of those aspects, he or she must understand light. Without light there is no art.
Peahens sunning - Watercolour. (Shown at Mall Gallery, London - Royal Society of Wildlife Artists exhibition 1998)
In 1998 David spent nine months in England where he had work accepted by the Royal Society of Wildlife Artists. This was exhibited in The Mall Gallery, Pall Mall London. He also exhibited in The Westminster Gallery and other smaller galleries.
On his return to South Africa he opened his own gallery in Plettenberg Bay where he continued with his bird oil paintings, sometimes working on a three metre canvas. These sold to many international clients.
He was then commissioned to paint six exceptionally large water colours for the Grand West Casino in Cape Town. These paintings depicting the Union Castle Liners and shipboard life throughout the company history are hanging in the premier room of the casino.
David paints from his studio at home, which commands a magnificent view of both the bay and the Plettenberg lagoon. He takes commissions in oil or water colour, painting large canvases of landscape/seascape combinations. He has painted, on commission, many portraits including an ex South African President. He works on his paintings depicting beautiful light in lost corners of gardens and he recently started to paint his beloved South African birds once again. Occasionally he accepts a commission to illustrate a book, usually for the challenge rather than much financial reward. David says: “for me it has never been about the money I am paid. There is a challenge and far more excitement created by sitting in front of a blank canvas or beautifully made paper, with paint, brushes and the smell of turpentine – a smell I love! The payment is not money; it is the satisfaction of creating something beautiful from one’s mind. An artist is a privileged being who has been given a talent. His job is to bring beauty into other peoples lives.”
David and his wife Fiona have moved back to Cape Town to be nearer their children and granddaughter.
David continues to paint commissions, art for galleries and also teaches painting to private clients.