Dave Smith is a name that has become synonymous in sign-writing circles with high quality, hand crafted reverse glass signs and decorative mirrors. It is fair to say that now-a-days this is the main thrust of his work. There is, however, more to his story.

His career in sign-writing began in 1984, when he left Westlands School in Torquay, aged 16 and was apprenticed for 5 years with Gordon Farr & two associates. These gentleman were traditional sign-writers, who had come up through the ranks and Gordon, in particular had an almost uncanny ability to paint letters, accurately laid out, without even a preliminary sketch. Under their tutelage, Dave became an accomplished draftsman, accurate letter painter & talented pictorialist.

In 1992, Dave set up his own sign business in Torquay dealing every aspect of the sign trade from vehicle graphics to 3D installations but always with his own stamp of unique design and pristine execution.

In the same year, on a visit to New Zealand, he had the immense good fortune to be invited to Wilmington, California to meet Rick Glawson & his crew of the famous “Fine Gold Sign Company”. Rick, who is sadly no longer with us, was universally regarded by his peers as the godfather of gilding, with a reputation for sharing his encyclopedic knowledge of glass decoration with eager students of the craft. The two became firm friends & Dave thereafter attended the California conclave of Letterheads every year. This is a gathering of talented sign artists, carvers, muralists & gold leaf experts. They further fueled Dave’s passion for creating elaborate, ornate mirrors & reverse glass signs of distinction. At the peak of “his sign company” success, Dave sold the business, to concentrate more fully on gilding, painting & acid-etching glass, adding brilliant cutting, so that he could fully replicate the Victorian glass work he admires so much. From home in Torquay, Devon, UK, he continues his quest to uncover & shareĀ even more knowledge of the processes involved before it becomes a lost art.

Dave has never lost sight of the debt he owes to Gordon Farr, Rick Glawson & others too numerous to mention, for sharing their knowledge and passion with him. So, in return, he shares the fruits of his study with his many friends, old & new, in the sign trade, through courses, step by step instruction and one-to-one chats on the phone or internet.

He is supported, unwaveringly by his wife Mel and his daughters, Hannah, Lauren & Millie, who, tolerate his long work hours, frequent trips abroad and the steady stream of visitors through the family home, who come to marvel at the work & learn. For this, and for them, Dave is eternally grateful.

click the design to see the full size details..

53 Responses to “Biography”

  1. David Smith says:

    Thank you Henry, sad to think alot of pubs went this way due to change of style, appreciate you posting this here. Sad event of our country at that time. Would love to help you develop the craft. I like to share these techniques, I will be in touch.

  2. Bob Renaud says:

    Dear David,
    I am an art instructor and artist from Carthage New York (near the Adirondack Mountains and the Thousand Islands in Northern NY heading towards the Canadian border). As an instructor and artist, I subscribe to many magazines and purchase many art book. I often turn to the computer to check out further artists who inspire me. The past few years, I have enjoyed many you tube posting showcasing artists and their work. The type of work you do inspired me to contact you Your attention to detail, your interesting views on simple (yet complicated) subject matter, and your ability to create interesting compositions are masterful to say the least. Your dedication and hard work are evident in your works as I have viewed them on the you tube postings as well as your website.
    I , personally, work in an illustrative way and have noticed with yours there is a storyline within each piece, even without the words.
    When I started teaching over 20 years ago, I was expected to teach painting. I felt very uncomfortable with my abilities and lack of experience (not having a solid foundation from the college I attended). It was during the mid 1990’s that I decided to teach myself how to paint. It was also the time that the internet started becoming part of our lives. I researched many artists to find what I liked and what I didn’t and tried to emulate styles, palettes, compositions etc…
    Since then this researching has developed into a segment I share with my students based on living artists called ‘Artist of the Month’. The artist of the month is displayed with his/her work accompanied by an art biography which remains on the display case for the entire month. I briefly talk about these artists with my students ~ we talk technique, subject matter, composition etc… and my students have really enjoyed this art appreciation segment without being bogged down with the normal approach to ‘art history’.
    Since then I have contacted several artists such as Tony Waichulis (whom I had the pleasure of spending some time with at his studio in Pennsylvania), Tony Ryder, Kirk Richards, Bill Whitaker, sculptors like Tom and TJ Moberg, Vala Ola , Heidi Maiers, and Glenna Goodacre, illustrators Wendell Minor, Jim Gurney (whom I’ve had the pleasure to meet also), PJ Lynch, and Bryan Ajhar (whom I just met two weeks ago as he is teaching a fall illustration class at Syracuse Univ.), cartoonist Dan Santat, and other fine and unique artists such as Jacob Collins, Rick Pas, crayon artist Don Marco – among several others (see art dept. website below and all Past Artists of the Month).
    I would love to display your work as upcoming ‘ARTIST of the MONTH’ for this school year, encouraging my students to consider this great field.
    I have invited each artist to be a guest artist here in my classroom (although said jokingly, I was still hopeful). The same invitation goes out to you. However, I realize that this isn’t probably going to happen – BUT are there promotional DVDs/posters/signed prints, books with your works etc… that you could send of your work to encourage my students to pursue this great field?
    Since receiving these items (signed prints, plaster casts of sculptures, signed books etc…) over the past 10 plus years from these artists, many are now displayed permanently in my room – a sort of living artists museum. If I could be so bold as to ask if you would be interested in sending us a few items I would be very grateful. The artists I display range in their approach and in the actual art related field but are ALWAYS a MASTER in their field.
    As an artist, I believe one should reveal true beauty – not use these God-given talents for chaotic or perverse works. I encourage you to check out our website below which includes student art work, some of my work -biography page, and ‘what’s new on the easel’. It also includes many past Artists of the Month whom I have exposed my students to which hopefully you’ll notice you will be in good company. Thanks and thank you for your inspirational work.
    Take care and God bless,

    “All men and women are entrusted to make a masterpiece of their life.” JPII

    CCS art webpage:

    Bob Renaud

    Artist/Art Instructor/Coach

    Carthage Central School

    36500 rt 26

    Carthage, NY 13619

    work: 315 493-5030

  3. David Smith says:

    Bob sorry for the late reply, Thanks for the kind words and please excuse my short note here.

    I would be more than honoured for you to use any photos of my work to help you with your teaching.

    Many thanks again.

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