David was born and raised in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in a small town surrounded by farms, Amish quilts, folk art pottery and antiques. From the age of 16 until he graduated from art school, he spent his summers working in a wool felt hat factory learning the craft of hat making.
After graduating in 1970 from the York Academy of Art, a school based on the principals of the Bauhaus, he moved to Philadelphia and began a career in graphic design. He has worked in a stained glass studio learning the art of slab glass, taught graphic design at Moore College of Art, designed posters and brochures for the Philadelphia Museum of Art and exhibition design for the Jewish History Museum.
In 1993, after sharing a friend's studio, he changed direction again and began working in steel, creating large welded steel sculptures. This led to helping create the Ironstone Sculpture Garden in South Jersey.
David sees a direct connection in his metal sculptures to the transformation of letter forms and shapes used in the graphic design process.
David Smith once said that "sometimes when I start a sculpture, I begin with only a realized part; the rest is travel to be unfolded, much in the order of a dream".
While abstract, his metal sculptures are informed by the same figurative movement found in his croquis drawings.
Today, David continues his study of the human form, specifically, croquis drawing. A croquis drawing is usually a thirty second to three minute study. He says that line becomes form, which creates space and brings to life one of time's moments. Proportion and detail take a back seat to emotion. The design of the page and the utilization of negative space together create an environment for the drawing to exist. All this, recorded within thirty seconds to five minuites. It requires discipline and concentration.
Johannes Itten in his book, Design and Form said that "for a genuine feeling to be expressed in a line or area, it must first of all vibrate in the creative artist himself...the whole body should be infused with this feeling".
There are no revisions to David's drawings. He feels the energy of the drawing lives in its spontaneity and to change it in any way would be to falsify it.