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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 & share¬†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..


  1. theo Vanderzalm

    Dear David,

    I hope this email reaches you, couldnt find a direct email address?

    Looking for 4 bevel glass panels 440mm height and 188mm wide with a rectangular water cut hole in the centre 285mm height and 104mm width with silver leafing on the back. Clear 6mm float with 10mm bevel on outside edges.

    Is this something you can do? If so, looking forward to your quote and lead time.

    Thank you

    07958 329 808

  2. Hi Theo good to talk with you today.
    Give me a call on 01803 613753

  3. Great work! All details are srong even smallest. Where are you from? I will be in GB and I want to look at your works by my eyes.
    Thank you

  4. Fred Marrinan

    Wow! Fantastic work. You are a wonderful artistThank You Fred

  5. David Smith

    Thanks Fred. Keep looking in for new posts.

  6. David Smith

    I’m based in the South West of England.

  7. Tim

    Dear David,
    i just saw the short documentary on vimeo. I must say im deeply impressed and absolutely blown away by this art in work. I’m some kind of “artist” myself, as i do graphic design for living. Your Work just gives me so much inspiration and makes me want to create something like that as well.

    I’m praising the new technology and working with it every single day, but from the bottom of my heart i wish that Work and Art like yours NEVER die out!

    Good Luck to you and best wishes!


  8. David Smith

    Tim. Thank you for that I appreciate it. Hopefully people will see that hand crafted work is always the best formn of artwork.

  9. Roderick

    I want to be you when you grow up !

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