David Curtis is Speaker at Online Artist Discussion


Photo of Curtis’ work from University of the Arts website

Hannah Boscola

David Curtis is an illustrator and designer who shared his passion for art during a virtual artist talk for Bucks County Community College on June 22. In conjunction with the exhibition, Wonders Illustrated, the Hicks Art Center Gallery invited the public to join a special presentation with Curtis. Curtis discussed where he began in his career, his experience as an artist, and shares some of his published works, and sketches.

Curtis spoke to students about his experience’s involvement in publishing, film, advertising, and animation, and how he got to where he is today as an artist. Curtis studied traditional illustration at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and had “a fascination with architecture” which continues to lend inspiration to his designs.

David is currently the Senior Designer for HarperCollins Books, however, he also spends his time as a freelance illustrator and has worked with clients and collaborators including “Scholastic, Columbia Pictures, Terror Behind The Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary, and Tor Books,” among others.

During his art talk Curtis shared his knowledge with Bucks students, discussing how marketing and communication played a key role in his successful career. He said oftentimes “finding a connection” can be the best way to start a career in the arts. Through his connections with notable publishers and art directors, David has become an award-winning book designer and has exhibited art in galleries at New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto, which inevitably presented him “with even more opportunities”.  David’s hard work has brought him to forefront of the design industry.

A particular cover David noted he was proud of is KingsBane by Claire Legrad, is book two in the New York Times bestselling dark fantasy series, the Emporium Trilogy. Oftentimes David’s’ covers land in the young adult or fantasy section, much of why his illustrations need to be so innovative and unique. The vivid palettes, and simple yet detailed compositions he includes in his book designs, are what make Art Directors reach out to Curtis for illustrations time and time again.

Curtis has collaborated with several profound artists including Mike Petteys, Art Director of the National Labor Union, Christopher Stengel and Elizabeth Parisi, Scholastic Art Directors, and Art Director Carol Ly for Penguin Random House.

This illustrator’s long list of clients does not come easy though. David notes a majority of book design is emailing and communicating with directors and clients. David has worked for HarperCollins since 2016 but has produced artwork for several companies including St. Martin’s Press, Picador, Flatiron Books, Griffin Publishing and even NASA.

During his talk, David shared his illustration Dilation, revealing how most of his inspiration comes from his daily life. The way Dilation combines post impressionism and surrealism, is just a part of what makes Curtis’s portfolio so profound. Curtis utilizes eye catching graphics in most of his illustrations. Recently David won the Silver Medal at Society of Illustrators West for his cover illustration for Before I Disappear, just one award of many.

Recently Curtis had the chance to work with clients like Jersey Shore BBQ, John Rzeznik of The Goo Goo Dolls, Sky & Telescope Magazine, and Discover Magazine. David has even been working on the Riverdale series, which has released the second book of the series not long ago.

Curtis is currently based in New York City and spends his days designing book covers and interiors. He also spends his time directing fellow illustrators in book design. David says he “values his educational interactions” as it has been essential to his development of his career in the arts.