David is a self-taught artist. He’s learned about a whole range of creative media by trial and error. He studied pre-med and wanted to be a doctor, but art was his true path and it has consumed him.
Anything David creates begins with a ‘what if?’ After playing with ideas and concepts – working out if it’s a pea or a planet he’s painting – he’ll come upon a sparkling moment that gets his pencil or brush moving. He’s driven to get it onto canvas and let it live. David’s creative muse is a gnarly, comical, evil, painted mask he found in Mexico. It hangs in an honoured place on his studio wall, playing to the darker side in his paintings.
David’s style is very personal – he draws in his own, natural way. His aim is to capture the feeling, and let the viewer experience it. As a book illustrator, his role is to convey the story, setting, characters and their interactions. But he also aims to find something that’s not there in the words, binding in a subtle layer that shapes the characters beyond what’s written on the page. The images themselves are notable for their expressiveness, colour, depth and detail.
Question: What drew you to illustration/design? David: I have always believed that I was born an artist and that I am simply following the path that has been laid out for me by the universe; I am traveling the path of least resistance. Of course at this point I have been an artist for so long I don’t know how to do anything else. Question: Do you have any formal design training? David: My academic training was biology because I have always loved science, which might seem counter to the creative process but it has given me a worldview that most definitely informs my work. Question: Where are you originally from? David: I was born in Virginia in the US and my family moved around a lot growing up. In fact I was the 'new kid' in school so many times, even today, I get nauseous smelling a new shirt.Question: Where do you live now & what drew you there? David: I settled in Ohio because of my job with Cox Newspapers where I did my syndicated editorial cartoons.Question: Where is your studio and can you describe it? David: My studio is the lower part of my house and the best way to describe it is; it's filled with everything that I have ever been inspired by or that speaks to me on some level.Question: How do you get your ideas? David: I had a best friend in 6th grade, his name was Robin Roundtree and his mom was an artist. One day she was giving us a drawing lesson. She told us: "Draw what you SEE, not what you THINK you see" - hearing those words forced me look at everything. From that day on I became a human sponge, absorbing as much as I could that surrounded me. I will never forget her words; they made me the artist I am today.Question: What are your interests outside of illustration? David: I love to read science fiction and historical biographies. I bike and I love astronomy and being with my 3 dogs - who never leave my side.Question: What's the best advice you've ever been given? David: "The path is the goal". I don’t know who said it but I think it's the most profound statement ever made. I take it to mean that we all should measure the success of our lives by our acquired experiences, rather than by our collected stuff.Question: Do you have a method for dealing with the feeling of having no ideas? David: For me, the ideas are always in there - I just make sure my mental diet is high in fibre.
Simon and Schuster, Harcourt Houghton Mifflin, Penguin Putnam, Disney, Amazon, National Geographic, Universal, 20th Century Fox Film Corp., Blue Sky Studios, Scholastic Books, Random House, Holiday House, Clarion Books, Roaring Press
Born: Virginia USA
Residence: Ohio USA
Food: Italian, Ethiopian or Thai
Shop: anything that is second hand or irregular
Magazine: Art Forum