I’m Dave, and I’ve been an illustrator since 1996. Like a lot of kids, I grew up drawing stuff. My parents always encouraged me, and I did reasonably well in art classes, but to be honest didn’t really stand out. I liked it well enough, but wasn’t super passionate about it. Looking back, I recognize now that I was more creative than anything else. In English classes I was always better at reading and creative writing than I was at diagramming sentences. Me and math haven’t been on speaking terms since 5th grade and long division. In fact, I was never particularly adept at school, and was pretty much a straight C student. I started college with the idea of becoming an architect because I thought it would allow creativity, but not require being an artist, per se, which I didn’t think I was good enough at.
I graduated community college with a general ed AA, but got married, had kids and needed a job, so I went into construction and worked as a mason. Even there, I found that laying decorative brickwork and rockwork was something I could do reasonably well, and it too filled a creative need.
But by the end of 1995 construction ran out for me and I was looking for another job. My brother-in-law, Ken Edwards, who was a freelance illustrator, needed some help with a project (cutting frisket) so I started with him. It paid, it wasn’t heavy work, and it was … well… somewhat creative. I was happy to have it. He got another project after the first finished and so he kept me on. He hired a bunch of artists to help, but the general flakiness that can sometimes seem like an integral part of creative types afforded me an opportunity to do a little more. I told him I could draw the characters. I was then tutored by one particular artist, Greg Banker, who helped me get a better idea of how to structure characters and taught me the basic animation and illustration principles, and things took off from there.
I started out doing the Disney main characters: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto, and things just went from there. The initial books were for Little Golden books and included 101 Dalmations, Winnie the Pooh, Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid, Cinderella, and a bunch of others I can’t remember at the moment. Then in 1999, my brother-in-law moved on, and I started working on my own. I got a chance to draw the PowerPuff Girls, and that led to a few years of some of my favorite work. I started working with LeapFrog during those years. Cartoon Network connections turned into working on Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and then working on Ni Hao, Kai-lan for Nick. At the same time, a series of family caricatures I did for friend was noticed overseas and I picked up a job doing corporate caricatures. This led to my moving away from so much children’s work, which, to be honest, I was glad to leave behind.
I got the strangest work offer back at the end of 2006 when a friend of mine working for a patent attorney said she might have a job. Her boss, Bob Fish, had this idea for a cartoon strip about life in the patenting world. I created a character based on his thoughts, the Patent Beast, and started a 12 year journey of drawing a comic strip based on the beast character and the different human foibles encountered in the patenting world. I also did caricatures of all the people at the office, illustrations for some books the partner had authored, and some other artistic ideas he had over those years.
But by the end of 2018, many of my initial contacts had run out and freelance work was obviously coming to an end. I wrote the patent attorney I had been drawing the comic strips for, and told him I was getting ready to move on. He offered me a chance to come work for him, and knowing he was a really good guy- fair in both treatment and pay, and feeling it would be an open opportunity, I quit freelance and started full time as the Creative Designer at Fish IP Law, down in Irvine CA.
My job now is to roll in to work everyday and see if I can make things cooler.
One of the basic things is to do technical drawings for the patents. Not super challenging, but sometimes it does push me to figure different things out, and it’s amazing how just applying myself to doing technical drawings in illustrator has taught me a bunch of new shortcuts and workflow hacks that I never used before when just creating original art.
Then I make what are called FishFAQ™ videos for work. We explain patenting concepts that are difficult by using visuals. While I had used Premiere Pro and Audition before starting at Fish IP™, I had to learn AfterEffects and this has been awesome!
I do a series of wall hangings called fishart™ that are based on the original patent drawings of well-known inventions. And I’ve made 3D models and videos of inventions- for which I use Blender.
I’ve also taken over the Website, which is still teaching me how to use WordPress, ElementorPro and now learn about SEO. Oh, and I built an actual 4 foot tall 3D model of the Patent Beast out of cardboard. It sits in our lobby.
These days I’m not really doing much freelance work. Having a full time job, I have what I need. I suppose I would always consider other work, but it’s not what I do for a living anymore.
This update of my website is just to keep an online portfolio of artwork that I’ve done and love.