He trained as an architect but became a stonemason and sculptor; now Dave Bradbury from Shepley has designs on the world of cartoons and lampoonery.
The 48-year-old, whose stone carvings and cast-iron sculptures have been commissioned by everyone from night club owners and local councils to cruise ship companies and the comedian Bill Bailey, is now combining his artistic talents with an eye for the wry and witty.
“I’d really like to get my cartoons out there,” says Dave. “I have drawn and sketched all my life and began producing greetings cards. I was inspired by Arnold Taylor, who used to be one of the artists who worked for Bamforth’s Postcards in Holmfirth. Now I’m doing cartoons. I sit and watch the news and try to think how things are going to pan out. I think about what makes me laugh and make a start from there.”
Dave’s three-dimensional work is scattered all over the country - including West Yorkshire. Locally, he is the sculptor behind a two-tonne carved stone bench in Shepley that tells the story of the village’s links to textiles and tailoring, and a cast iron figure, modelled on comedian Eric Morecambe, which stands outside H Downs & Sons foundry on Leeds Road. “I’ve always been a massive Eric Morecambe fan,” says Dave, “he’s the inspiration behind a little old feller with a shopping bag I’ve been using in my drawings for years.” He takes commissions for everything from headstones to statues and milestones.
As well as sculpting he has worked as an illustrator - producing illustrations for books by Mirfield author Bill Forde - and his design work has been accepted by American stock photography company Shutterstock.
However, lampooning well-known characters requires more than just an artistic eye and he keeps a close watch on current affairs, looking out for potential material. As Dave says: “If I can lampoon someone who deserves it then I’ll go for that. I don’t take a lot of things seriously, so cartoons suit my personality.”
Recent cartoons have cast a wry and somewhat cynical eye over everything from news events such as Chancellor George Osborne’s tax deal with Google and the denial by Russian president Vladimir Putin that he was involved in the death of spy Alexander Litvinenko, to Jerry Hall’s surprise engagement to Rupert Murdoch. “When I heard about the engagement, “ said Dave, “I thought of the Mrs Merton gag, when she was interviewing Debbie Daniels: ‘And what was it that first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?’ I thought, I’m going to steal that.”
“I have a natural disregard for politics, which I suppose is the Zeitgeist of the day,” added Dave, who originally hails from Lancashire but moved to Yorkshire as a teenager. “And not all my work is humorous or pokes fun. I did a cartoon of God having a go at Death, and it was a very respectful one for Terry Wogan.”
Posting his work on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, he has attracted some surprising attention. He said: “My cartoon of Putin went out on Instagram and some people from Russia started following me. I thought ‘that’s a bit scary’, but I think things are changing so much now, you’ve got to use social media. If you have kids in your house (his daughter Jaye is 17 and son Tommy is 15) then you’re OK because they say ‘you should be on this’ and then show you how to do it; ‘you just do this and this...’.”
See more of Dave’s work at www.bydavebradbury.co.uk