David Bray

David Bray is an illustrator/artist based in South London. He has been working as a freelance illustrator since his graduation from Central St. Martins in 1992. His preferred medium is pen/pencil on paper but is always up for experimenting with new mark making techniques. As an artist David has exhibited in London, Tokyo, New York, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Portland, Los Angeles and Perth. His collaboration with photographer Tim Bret Day on the Harvey Nichols advertising campaign ‘HN on Earth’ is now in the permanent poster collection at the Louvre. He has not been to the Louvre. But likes Paris a lot. He will be moving there in January. He is disappointed that his football career is way behind him, that he was shit at football and that he can’t kick a ball straight.

We sat down with David and asked him a few questions about his piece for Skull & Heart, the elegant ‘The End of my Cigar‘ , and his time in the industry.

Q: Hi David, how are you?

A: Hello Skull and Heart. Thank you for asking, I’m very well thank you – how the devil are you?

Q: Very good thankyou! Firstly, we’d just like to thank you for creating such a stunning piece for us, we’re huge fans of your work here at S&H so we’re very excited to get this beauty printed and on sale!

A: Very kind words indeed, really pleased you are happy with the results. The print looks smashing, a real grand job.

Q: You’ve just had some very successful exhibitions here in London, tell us a bit about how you prepare for such events?

A: With fear and pain. With these shows I tried to tailor the work to fit the spaces – both were different sizes and set-ups. The Ben Oakley space is intimate and ramshackle, a real gem ,and noformat is a huge white warehouse space which is almost cathedral like. I tend to have a story for each show, so the work has a narrative and each piece fits in with each other – but still work in their own right. The Ben Oakley show started off with the idea of a crazed, pipe smoking, hard drinking, seafaring, tattooed, bird-eating nefarious female pirate crew – reflecting the seafaring heritage of the Greenwich location. The noformat was strung round the warehouse parties from my past, it got christened the ‘Acid House Hangover’.

Q: So how did you get into illustration at first? What led you down this path?

A: I got into illustration completely by chance. Initially I wanted to be a graphic designer, and did a degree in graphic design at St. Martins. It was quite an open course, really free – and I guess it reflected in my portfolio when I had graduated and was knocking on doors trying to get design work. One designer laughed and said I would never work for him in a design capacity, but in the same sentence offered me an illustration brief, told me my drawings were great- a bit flukey, but it snowballed from there.

Q: Talk us through a typical David Bray creation then, how do you go about creating a piece?

A: Write stuff down, get ideas together – then a few rough sketches then draw and re-draw til it feels right.

Q: you’re known for your dream-like illustration of beautiful ladies and doe eyed animals, do you find this pigeon holes you in anyway?

A: Ha ! Yeah, think I have been pigeon-holed to some respect – but there is a lot more to my drawing abilities (I hope!) I’ve just completed a series of drawings of bent-up forklift trucks but i guess they might be a little niche in their appeal. I work under other names to vent my need to draw things other than ladies v animals…..

Q: What are your Inspirations, what do you often look to when feeling a little drained of ideas?

A: Really inspired by Helmut Newton, Araki, Eric Stanton, Richard Prince. All very stimulating. If I’m a little drained, I tend to switch off – go and read a book. Sometimes just a turn of phrase is enough to kickstart something. Words sometimes say more than a thousand pictures. Or something….

Q: Tell us about the piece you did for Skull & Heart, how did you end up creating this piece?

A: Saw a girl on the tube, really beautiful, wearing a beautiful vintage gingham shirt with a few button badges – really struck a chord. The next day I saw this kid with all these Super Mario tattoos. And at the same time I was having bit of an unhealthy Bill and Ted obsession – so she has ended up with a Ziggy Piggy sticker. Its a combination of these 3 elements which has filtered into this one drawing.

Q: Can you tell us about any future projects?

A: Until all the dots are dotted and t’s crossed or whatever the saying is, I’m keeping a lid on it – but I will say Los Angeles here I come.

Q: Skulls or Hearts?

A: Skulls.


All available artwork from David Bray is available to purchase in our online store. Please click the images below to be directed to the item you are interested in.