Since shopfronts became shopfronts, there has been a need for signs: the need for signs begetting the craft of sign painting. Hand-lettering arose in America in the 1800’s as a means of distinguishing between products and companies when capitalism began to boom. Until the advent of vinyl lettering in the 80’s, hand-lettering and sign painting was thought of as a viable career path, instead of the niche hobby it has become in today’s market.
David Velasquez was painting panels on trucks and hand-lettering company logos on the truck doors in the 80’s, finding that his artistic talent was in much higher demand in the transportation market. Boats, hot rods, jet skis, and even planes. Pinstriping led to logo design, logo design to portraits, and soon enough David was sketching historical points of interest and lovely, yet long-forgotten buildings.
Born in the late 50’s in Ventura County, California, David grew up in El Rio. A small, unincorporated town once known as New Jerusalem, El Rio was founded in 1875 by the local postmaster, who also ran the General Store. David’s life took a similar trajectory, branching along two courses - marrying his high school sweetheart, and going to work in construction, now, well over twenty years.
An uncle first realized that David showed natural talent for drawing, and helped coach him from simply copying comic strips to drawing original art in 3D. For years however, David believed that he wasn’t good enough, and that his hobby was exactly that: just a hobby. When Six Flags Magic Mountain invited him to submit selections from his portfolio to a contest they were having, he balked: “I felt I was very unqualified - I had no intention of accepting the invitation.” 10 pieces were to be chosen by the team at Magic Mountain, to use on items for the gift shop. “I remember being very intimidated, but the sales rep strong-armed me, and they ended up picking all seven of the pieces I submitted. I was blown away.”
Giving him the confidence boost he needed, the contest blossomed into screen printing- and eventually a commission with the National Park Service. David “drew the historic buildings at Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and Bryce Canyon National Parks. I also did pen and ink work, and the parks, and eventually Six Flags Magic Mountain all used my drawings for gift items sold at their gift shops.” Impressive, for a man who has no formal art education.
“Love all, trust a few, and do no wrong to anyone. With God’s help, you’ll live a great life’. I believe that, especially in relation to my art: it has been a great source of stress relief and inspiration over the years. Particularly when I come home from running my construction business.”
Most of David’s work is in single tones - black and white, just doodles. Those doodles are now being turned into a coffee table book.
“For years, I would just sketch: or doodle, and thought those pages were being tossed out when my wife was cleaning the house. Turns out, she saved them, and I was asked to include them in my new book.” Pencil sketches, graphics, and other artwork will go into David’s newest work- mediums which are still in high demand elsewhere.
“I am currently working on a logo for a radio station, family portraits, pen and inks of a motorcycle and hot rod, and pencil portraits of the ‘Kings of Cool’: Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, John Wayne, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and Robert DeNiro,” he says.
David has work on display at the Ventura County Art Museum, and the San Buenaventura Mission store. “I thank the good Lord for my family and friends who inspire me to do the right thing in life, and I want to keep doing what I love.” And his advice to young or aspiring artists out there? “Hone your skills, practice. Do what you love, be it drawing, painting, sculpture, music, even teaching. Art can be found in so many things.”
To view more of David’s art, visit his FB page (David Velasquez) or Instagram (velasquezgraphics). To connect with David directly, call (805) 432-6082.