David Smith was born in Leeds on 7 March 1955, and educated at Gotts Park Secondary School. With the help of a supportive Art Teacher he then got a place at Jacob Kramer College (now Leeds College of Art), where he "bought an Afghan coat, grew his hair and bought a pair of John Lennon glasses."
After graduation Smith began writing and cartooning, and his first published drawings appeared in Leeds Other Paper. He then moved to Edinburgh, and, using the signature "Weef", contributed cartoons and caricatures to the Edinburgh Evening News, Scotsman, and Times Educational Supplement Scotland, among others. For five years he also worked as the Evening News's Art Critic.
Smith then moved to London, where he contributed to the Sunday Express, Daily Mirror, Independent, Evening Standard, and Radio Times. He spent seven years as a designer on The Times, for which he produced celebrity caricatures. Smith argues that the best celebrity caricaturists were working in the 1920s and 1930s. In the United States Al Frueh, William Auerbach-Levy, Ralph Barton, Miguel Covarrubias and Al Hirschfeld were publishing, whilst "in Britain there was the Swedish-born Einad Nerman, with his Art Deco theatre drawings for Tatler, Sheriff in the Bystander, and the great political commentator David Low in the Evening Standard and the New Statesman."
Smith recalled that his time in Fleet Street passed "in a blur of hot metal, flat beer, warm wine and tight deadlines", but he eventually took redundancy to concentrate on painting and drawing, and to take an MA in Fine Art Printmaking.
- David Smith "Laughter Lines", The Times, 25 April 1998, Features section.
- David Smith's website at www.weef.co.uk
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