David was born and raised in Zimbabwe and lucky enough to grow up surrounded by the animals he now loves to draw. David was always the quiet ‘art guy’ at school, but it was only during his study of Information Design at the University of Pretoria he really fell in love with drawing.
He would spend hours each night immersed in a single drawing, and by the time he graduated, a career in anything else was not an option. In 2008, David won his category in the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year competition and, in 2011, went on to win the overall prize with a drawing of a mother elephant and her calf.
These awards serve as a ‘constant validation’ for David, ones which he will always think of as his career springboard. Since then, David has exhibited in galleries around the world, from Zimbabwe to New York, while all the time keeping his love for animals and his need to do what he can to preserve them at the forefront of his work ethos.
David works purely in graphite pencil. Whilst he has experimented with most mediums, David always felt a pull back to the medium that started it all for him.
Although the nature kingdom is drenched in colour and the vibrancy of nature is not something to be ignored, for the purpose of his art, David likes to strip all that away and, by reducing a subject to black and white, he feels it forces someone to really focus on the animal in question and to truly take in what makes them so beautiful and fascinating. The striations on a pangolin’s scale, the lip hairs of an elephant – the tiny details that are often missed otherwise, are what gives him the most joy as he translates what he sees onto paper.
One of David’s greatest pleasures is when someone goes right up close to one of his drawings to look at the texture of fur or the reflection of the eye and so, inadvertently, take in just how extraordinary nature’s design of these creatures really is.
Mother Theresa once said, “I will never attend an anti-war rally, but if there’s a march for peace, I will be at the front of the line.” This saying has always been the cornerstone for my art and work as an Art Ambassador for DSWF and one which I try to emulate every time I sit down to draw.
“I strongly believe that everyone needs to fight the fight, but rather than perpetuating the energy of destruction and devastation wrought by mankind upon our animals, I strive to come at this battle from the other end – through my art, I wish to show the world how incredible our wildlife really is and hopefully inspire others to fight the fight in their own way.”
It is my greatest honour to be an Ambassador for the Foundation as we strive for a more humane world and, in my own small way, help preserve the animals that inhabit it.
DSWF’s roots are in wildlife art and we are fortunate enough to have some of the most talented wildlife artists as our Wildlife Art Ambassadors. Learn more about these committed conservationists here.
Visit our website shop to browse every kind of wildlife art. From David Shepherd originals and prints, to outstanding artworks by Wildlife Artist of the Year finalists. These pieces are a true celebration of the world’s wildlife and wild places.
As the founder of DSWF, David dedicated his life to raising awareness and funding for wildlife conservation efforts. Using his incredible artistic skills, David was able to inspire change and make a positive impact on the preservation of endangered species. Find out more.