As a small boy, David collected books on Africa and he had one ambition only, to be a game warden. His early career was, to quote his own words, 'a series of disasters'. After leaving school in 1949, he went to Kenya and was politely told that he was not wanted. Coming home again, David was faced with two choices; 'to drive buses or starve as an artist'. Rejected by the Slade School of Fine Art as having 'no talent whatsoever', it was by good fortune that he met Robin Goodwin who took him under his wing and to whom he owes so much of his success.
David started his career as an aviation artist and owes a great deal to the Royal Air Force. Whilst never having worn a uniform they recognised his talent and started commissioning aviation prints which involved him flying all over the world with them. David freely admits that he has had some of his most exciting times with the Services, on HMS Ark Royal, going down in a submarine, and with flying in almost every type of aircraft from Harrier jump jets to V-Bombers, and the one remaining Lancaster. It was The Royal Air Force who flew David to Kenya in 1960 and this was to be a catalyst in his life. They commissioned his very first wildlife painting and, to quote David's own words, 'I have never looked back'.
It was at this same formative time in David's life that he became a conservationist when he saw 255 dead zebra lying around a poisoned waterhole in Tanzania. Now he is internationally regarded as one of the world's leading wildlife artists but also, because of his enormous debt that he says he owes to wildlife for what it has done for him, he is also known internationally as a leading conservationist. One of his first major fund-raising successes was with the painting 'Tiger Fire' which raised £127,000 for Project Tiger in 1973. In 1984 The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation was set up to focus David's conservation efforts and to increase public awareness and generate funds for wildlife conservation from both this country and abroad. To date, through David's efforts and the generosity of the Foundation's supporters, over £2.5 million has been raised.
David is also known for his landscape paintings and portraits. These include a potrayal of 'Christ' for an Army Church; the former president of Zambia, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda; HM The Queen Mother, and the Sheikh Zahed of Abu Dhabi. His many military paintinings are commisiioned from the Royal Navy, The Parachute Regiment, the Green Howards, the Army Air Corps, the Special Air Service and many others. David also has a passion for steam locomotives and in 1967 he purchased two 120 ton main line steam locomotives, 'Black Prince' and 'The Green Knight' and founded the East Somerset Railway at Cranmore, Somerset, a registered charity and fully operational steam railway. His latest venture is the presentation to him of a 15F Class locomotive, even larger than the 'Black Prince', by South African Railways as a free gift.
His life story was featured in the BBC documentary 'The Man Who Loves Giants' (1972), and other films include Harlech TV documentary 'Elephants and Engines', BBC's 'Last Train to Mulobezi' (1974), the Thames Television series 'In Search of Wildlife' (1988), 'Naturewatch' for Central Television (1990), and 'This is Your life' (1990). His books include 'An Artist in Africa' (1967), his autobiography 'The Man Who Loves Giants' (1975), 'A Brush with Steam' (1983), 'David Shepherd, the man and his paintings' (1985), and 'David Shepherd, an artist in conservation' (1992) which contains a stunning collection of over 90 colour plates of his original wildlife paintings. In October 1995 his lates books, 'David Shepherd, my painting life' and 'Only one World' were published.
David Shepherd was awarded an Honorary Degree of Fine Arts by the Pratt Institute in New York in 1971 and, in 1973, the Order of the Golden Ark by HRH The Prince of the Netherlands for his services to conservation. He was made a Member of Honour of the World Wide Fund for Nature in 1979 and received the Order of the British Empire for his services to wildlife conservation. In 1986 David was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and in 1988, Presidet Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia awarded him with the Order of Distinguished Service. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1989 and he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Hertfordshire in 1990. In 1996 David was honoured as an Officer (Brother) of The Order of St. John. David is married with four daughters and lives in West Sussex.
Most of the prints available on our web site are in mint condition, having never been framed and still within the print sleeve as issued by the publisher.
Work By This Artist