David E Smith was born in Kings Lynn, Norfolk in 1943, and studied at both St Martin’s School of Art and the Central School (when separate institutions) before taking a BA in History of Art at the Courtauld Institute, followed by an MA at Birkbeck College.
Since the early ‘70s his caricatures have appeared widely at different times, and often at the same time, in The Guardian, The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, The Independent, The Daily and Sunday Telegraph and The Times Supplements, getting him dubbed for a while by a fellow illustrator as the London Daily Smith. Book illustration and magazines such as Punch, The Listener, The Literary Review, Radio Times, The Strad, The UK Press Gazette, The Musical Times and Standpoint filled in what little time remained.
In 1994 he relocated to New York, where he lived for eight years, contributing to The Wall Street Journal, The New York Daily News, The New York Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post, The National Review, New York Magazine, The Boston Book Review and The Toronto Star, among others. At the same time, he combined this with occasional art criticism and lecturing on American art to British students at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In 2002 he moved to Paris, where he contributed to The International Herald Tribune, became syndicated in Courrier International and began a weekly profile for Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, which continued for twelve years. Returning to London in 2006, he reduced his workload, concentrating increasingly on his second love, photography. His medium for his caricature work was black pen and ink, employing a tight cross-hatching technique with a crow-quill nib. A little spot colour was latterly a regular feature, while full colour, seldom used, was generally the same technique as mono with added wash. An admirer of André Gill, David Levine and “Trog” (Wally Fawkes), he admitted in 1990 that although it may be helpful to meet his victim, “the process of exaggeration and disfigurement works far better (for him) in isolation, armed with a battery of good photographs, a few drinks and a modicum of spleen.”
Examples of his work are in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, and he has written pieces on caricature and cartooning for The UK Press Gazette:
“Character Study”, 26 February 1990, pp21-25
“Political Cartooning”, 25th anniversary issue, 1990.
"So brilliant, such beautiful style, so missed from the papers" Andy Davey, 2023 (fellow cartoonist)