Artist’s signs for the stars

David Smith busy at work

David Smith busy at work - Credit: Archant

Torbay artist David Smith has made such an impression with his talent for signwriting that his work is commissioned by celebrities in the world of sport and music.

From his humble beginnings as a local apprentice, the incredible growth of his skills led to the award of an MBE this year for services to the teaching of his craft.

A passion for art, creativity and using traditional methods alongside modern advancements in his trade has allowed David to develop a global reputation for excellence, and it all started in the Bay.

“I started off as an apprentice signwriter for a company in Paignton when I was 16 years-old, in 1984,” said Smith. “It was all about hand-painted lettering and learning from old craftsmen, before technology became the norm.

“I then started my own business at the age of 21 and managed to build up a good reputation of producing quality work, combining technology and tradition. It was mainly work for restaurants and businesses before I developed more of an interest in reverse-glass and gilded lettering.

“The passion for my work took me to America in 1990 to learn from master craftsmen showing me lost art techniques.

“Back home, people started to recognise what I did. In 2012, Sony Music commissioned me to create the album cover called Born and Raised for the musician John Mayer.

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“From there, I was asked to do a design for Jameson Whisky, which was quite an honour as my name was printed on the bottle and was the second signature after John Jameson since 1780 to go on a bottle of their whisky.

“For the football fans, I was fortunate enough to do a glass sign for Inter Miami owners David Beckham and Jorge Mas Santos which is now positioned in their stadium. I was also asked to give a presentation at Disney World in Florida in 2015, a huge honour, the variety of projects has been very cool.

“I have enjoyed many great experiences from art and now take just as much pleasure in giving back to others by teaching this craft around the world.”

To find out more about David’s work, follow him on Instagram @davesmithartist or log on to