Artist David Williams

Artist David Williams can be seen around Imperial Beach painting utility boxes.

David Williams didn’t realize he had an artistic gift until he was a student at Mar Vista High School and ended up in the principal’s office for sketching his classroom. “I thought I was getting busted but he said ‘You are very talented. I love your work but don’t distract the class,’” Williams recalled the principal saying. “ I knew I had a talent, a gift, but I played football, surfed and did cross-country.”

The Mar Vista High School principal that complimented him was Ronald Williams. He has since taken another position as the Dean at Point Loma Nazarene University but he and Williams have since become friends. 

Since Williams graduated from Mar Vista in 1991, painting has become part of his life. Before working as an artist full time, something he has done for the past year-and-a-half, he held a variety of jobs including working as a graphic designer. He also attended Southwestern College and took art classes.

In 2005 Williams noticed a call for artists to paint utility boxes around Imperial Beach. Artists had to paint a nautical theme and would be paid $50. Debbie Janney who was the president of the Business Improvement District at the time noticed Williams’ work and took him under her wing. Williams now has a contract with the Business Improvement District and as the colorful paintings on the boxes fade Williams retouches them about once a year.

Over the years Williams has painted plain utility boxes and used them as a canvas for his creations. The utility boxes have been transformed into something locals and visitors want to take a closer look at and admire, whether they depict sunsets, horses or underwater scenes.

Williams admits he doesn’t know ahead of time what he’s going to paint on the utility boxes. “When I get up to it ,I see what I feel, a sunset, the beach, palm trees, underwater scenes. I don’t know what the box will be until I start,” he explained. 

Williams has done work in Old Town, La Jolla, Bonita, Nestor and he is also trying to work something out with the City of Pacific Beach. He has also painted a 24-foot mural of a farming scene by Southwestern High School, and a mural of a merman in the dugouts. In Old Town he painted a mural that goes from Congress to San Diego avenues which depicts the story of San Diego including the Hotel del Coronado, the Star of India, the cannon in Old Town, the Spaniards and the Kumeyaay Indians and Lindbergh.

“I love the appreciation, the beautification, and being part of making people happy,” he said. Some people honk their horn at Williams while he works as they are driving by. Others have come up to him and say “I finally get to meet you.”  It’s exactly what happened when Jill Jongeward stopped  and asked Williams for a card.  Williams is now painting an underwater mural in her backyard which include large whales. “He’s very talented,” said Jongerward proudly showing the mural located in an area with an outdoor kitchen where she does a lot of entertaining. 

Williams business name is David Michael’s Art and he can be reached at: davidmichaelsartinsd@gmail.com.

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