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.