David Anthony King
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David Anthony King

David Anthony King was born April 10, 1948 at Ilford Maternity Home, Ilford, Essex, England. He lived in Gants Hill, Essex until age 13, when his family moved to the leafier suburb of Chigwell.
Growing up, David was keen on comics, including the essential British schoolboys' favorites the Beano, the Dandy, and the Beezer, as well as many American superhero comics. His younger sister Pamela still recalls always having to play the subservient Robin to David's Batman, and being drilled to recite Green Lantern's oath.
David attended Gearies Primary School in Gants Hill and then Beal Grammar School for Boys in Redbridge, where he excelled at art.
David left Beal at age 16 to study graphic design at South East Essex Technical College in Dagenham, receiving his diploma in 1967. It was here he met Jeremy Ratter (Penny Rimbaud) and Gee Vaucher, who went on to form the band Crass. His great friend there was John Sherfield who subsequently had a successful career in advertising.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s David worked for a succession of London advertising agencies, first as graphic designer and later as an art director, including the prestigious DDB (Doyle Dane Bernbach) and Blackburn Daley, founded by Chicago-born Bill Blackburn. Blackburn also set up the New England Ice Cream Company, which for a while supplied the Royal National Theatre, and created a magnificent ice cream parlor within the Kensington department store, Barkers. David designed all the graphics for the brand.
Around 1970 David went to live at Dial House, the commune set up by Ratter and Vaucher on an isolated farm in the middle of an airfield in rural North Weald, Essex. It was here he designed the logo for their band Crass.
In 1975 David and his sister Pamela took a trip around the US, traveling on Greyhound and Trailways buses from New York to California and back, visiting many states and sights in between. Two years later he was enticed back to New York as he was desperate to see the film Star Wars as soon as it came out, before it reached the UK. (Sadly he found it slightly disappointing.) David never again lived in the UK but returned often to spend time with friends and family.
In New York David met his wife Dione, with whom he would spend the rest of his life. Together, along with Charlie Nash, they formed the band Arsenal, and were part of New York's burgeoning punk / no wave scene. At the same time David continued his graphic design practice, creating work for the Museum of Modern Art and the logo for Danceteria, among other projects.
In 1980, David, Dione, and Charlie moved to San Francisco where their band Arsenal soon became Sleeping Dogs and later Brain Rust. David also returned to school, getting his BFA at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1992.
From the 1980s on, David lived in San Francisco and pursued travel, gardening, woodworking, and photography. His love of books and comics never diminished. He generated a vast amount of art and design over a lifetime, self-publishing his work in a series of books in the 2000s and later issuing numerous publications with San Francisco's Colpa Press. Shortly before his passing, the monograph David King Stencils was published by Gingko Press, Berkeley.
Low key and self-effacing, David's gentle demeanor stood in contrast to his often stark creations. His artistic legacy lives on in his designs, photographs, drawings, and stencils.
David died at home in San Francisco on October 17, 2019 after a long battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife Dione King, sister Pamela Smith, brother-in-law Robert Smith, nephew Thomas Smith, and niece Bryony Smith. Donations can be made to Creative Growth at https://creativegrowth.org. A gathering to commemorate David's life will be held at a later date.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from May 6 to May 9, 2021.
Memories & Condolences
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8 entries
June 2, 2021
Auf Wiedersehen, David.
In loving memory, Kathrin
kathrin redmer
Significant Other
May 13, 2021
I'm trying to remember where I first met David and I think it was in one of Charmain's plant ID classes. We met through plants, which is a lovely way to meet. Taking care of his and Dione's garden was a source of great joy for me and I love their beautiful home. Being with David was always pure happiness and so much fun. He could make me double over with laughter, listening to his stories and his take on life. So talented, so creative, so lovely. He inspired me with the way he dressed, such an amazing eye for putting colors and patterns together in unexpected ways. I added color to my wardrobe this year, feeling courageous thinking of his example. I'm sad I will never see him again, he was such a beautiful soul. David, wherever you are now, I wish you peace and love. And so much love to you, Dione.
Carla Lindquist
May 11, 2021
David was a sweet and creative guy. I will miss him.
Bill Russell
May 8, 2021
I met Dave and Dione (and Charlie) while catching Sleeping Dogs at the On Broadway in 1983, and loved especially the tall slender guy banging on a solitary snare. I caught more shows, we talked a bit, and my partner Karen and I invited them to play a Peace Punk gig at UC Santa Cruz in 1984. By then it was just Dave and Dione playing as Brain Rust, and they spent the night at our apartment, where a late night run to the Saturn Cafe cemented our friendship with mint chip ice cream and an oreo crust.

The decades of our steady friendship that followed included a love for Dave's work, and quite a few collaborations, especially on the wonderful Victorian he and Dione renovated over a few years, on which I was grateful to apply my own work. The color and design choices were very much Dave's, I simply had the skill to execute them to his very high standards: I'd never met anyone who could spot a 2mm runout over a 12' line. And all those samples...nobody said making a house amazing was easy. We made a good team, as different as chalk and cheese, bringing different sensibilities to bear on a common project, and over time it became easy as I integrated Dave's amazing eye into my practice.

At times we lived together, often we worked together, but in all cases he was the dearest of friends. We celebrated each other's talents, and
understood each other's quirks and weaknesses: what more can one ask for in a friend? Dave's beautiful spirit, friendship, and amazing artistic production is like a star in my sky, fixed and constant still. He is certainly not gone, but just as surely, very much missed.
Paul d'Orléans
May 8, 2021
A rose for Dione
Dave was a gentle soul with a passionate heart and humorous spirit, and a kind friend.
Janice Everett
May 8, 2021
Dave was a gentle soul with a passionate heart and humorous spirit. A very special and kind friend.
Janice Everett
May 8, 2021
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Janice Everett
May 8, 2021
Dave was a True Heart. Kind, sympathetic, brilliant -- oh where are all those adjectives when you need them? I had very little idea of his illustrious career and I'd known him since the 80s when he very generously designed logos and video covers for our cable series and videos. We also collaborated on a wonderfully illustrated children's book. We said goodbye nearly a year before at Headlands, with the sky as clear as his eyes. A wonderful wonderful person.
Terese Svoboda
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