David High in his Workshop - Photo for the Archives of The Museum of the San Fernando Valley by Gerald Fecht - July 2009
No generation has had a greater love affair with cars than the one that reached adulthood in the 1950s. In the San Fernando Valley kids cruised Van Nuys Boulevard on Saturday night, adopted Rock and Roll and made Bob’s Big Boy hamburgers a required stop. Dave High was one of those lucky teenagers.
With notebooks filled with amazing drawings of souped-up cars, Dave was the envy of his classmate at Birmingham High School. Little did he know that sketching cars and creating fantasy vehicles was going to shape his life long career.
Dave High graduated from high school in an era when most boys saw military service as a reality. So, like hundreds of others, he went to the Naval Reserve Station in North Hollywood to enlist. To his, and California’s good fortune, Dave’s ability to draw was quickly recognized and he spent his active duty time as an Navy illustrator.
After his time on active duty, Dave went to work for his father “Skeet” as a mechanic in the family auto shop. (see: posting about Skeet – July 21, 2009 on this blog). According to Dave, he soon learned that drawing and customizing cars was a lot more fun than fixing them. He set about to find work as a professional illustrator.
In the best tradition of the animation business, Dave High found his first job working the night shift in a basement mailroom for Hanna Barbara Studios. (Hanna Barbara is famous for its Fred Flintstone and Jetsons productions.)
In Dave’s words, “It wasn't long before the rookie moved to daylight hours and settled into an upstairs desk as a background illustrator with one of the most prestigious animation companies in the world.”
Fortunately for Dave High, he was able follow his car-passion during the “offseason” in the animation business. He worked to restore automotive upholstery and better yet - as a designer of custom-made boat and car interiors.
In 1990, Dave opened a specialty garment screen printing company called Dave High Ink, in the Simi Valley. The website for the company tells us more about his exciting career.
“During the '80s Dave's cartooning skills became a hot item in the Hollywood art/designer scene. He worked for such studios as Hanna-Barbara, Ruby Spears, MGM and Walt Disney. As soon as one animation project was completed, he was snatched up as art director for another company. He worked on such productions as the California Raisins, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Pocahontas and All Dogs Go to Heaven. Not only was Dave the art director for the live action show that debuted "Teddy Ruxpin", the talking bear, and he also illustrated and produced the Ruxpin books and three videos. “
In July of 2009, Dave High became a major contributor to the preservation of San Fernando Valley history through his donation of a large box of historic Weddington family photographs. Among the photographs was a small photograph album, identified by Guy Weddington McCreary as likely having belonged once to his mother’s family. These images now designated The Davis Family Album.
Dave states that he is honored to be included as one of the Valley’s very important artists, since “I know from experience there are many, many fantastic artists living in the Valley.” He continues to say, “I feel very fortunate to have been born where and when I was! It was really a great place to grow up!”
The Museum Community can learn more about Dave High and receive a newsletter from his company by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The San Fernando Valley, in the heart of the Creative Capital of the World, deserves a great Museum of history and culture.