Turning his drawings into sculptures

David Brits at Gorgeous George. In the background is a mural he painted.

One cannot say street art, sign writing and murals without mentioning David Brits.

Many have seen his work at well-known hotels in the city, in Greenmarket Square and even on the runway.

At the age of 4, David discovered he could draw dinosaurs better than his classmates, which later led his 8-year-old self to take art lessons, encouraged by his parents.

Shortly after high school, he pursued his studies in Fine Art at the University of Cape Town, and to hone his skills, he studied some design as well. He later spent time abroad where he hoped his career as an artist would lift off, but to his disappointment, things didn’t work out that way, as he could barely even get a job as a security guard at a museum or one at an art bookshop, which he found to be destructive to his self-esteem.

He then made a decision to return to Cape Town, where he had a support structure. Shortly after his return, he landed a gig in designing menu boards and murals and what happened after that is history.

He got more work through referrals and his career finally started taking off. It was from that moment he took the time to learn the art of sign writing and to figure out how to be a custodian of it.

David says he grew up in Fish Hoek Valley where he was a neighbour to his grandfather, who was a notorious herpetologist and specialised in snakes at the time. He says his work is inspired by his grandfather and he creates snake effects using two pencils placed between a peg or a piece of wood.

And from the patterns he created, he later made prints and used them for fashion as well as murals. One of his major works includes the facade on the Radisson Red Hotel near the V&A Waterfront.

Over the past three years, he developed an interest in turning his drawings into sculptures. The interest started when he was at a friend’s house and he noticed an abstract sculpture in the pot plant. He said the sculpture suddenly inspired him.

After perfecting his skills in sculpting, he had the opportunity to later launch his first public sculpture at the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation in Masiphumelele, which is an abstract called Ouroboros.

David says that he teaches the basic skills of art to apprentices with some assistance, and he has done a few lettering workshops so far. In future, he might work with a few schools to teach some of his work.

“South Africa has a cultural and aesthetic diversity too,” said David.

He says a society with a good cultural heart is healthier and having a variety of art institutions open their doors in the past few years has been very important for the city in putting it on the global art map.

In turn, it has sparked a great interest in art from all sectors of society.