Dave Heinrich was born in Gawler, South Australia in 1967. As a child he was first taught how to draw cars and aircraft by his father Max, a technical draftsman at British Aerospace. Somehow, Dave also stumbled across the cartoon monster cars of Ed Roth which fascinated him at a very early age.
Heinrich grew up religiously watching Warner Brothers animated cartoons on television and discovered Mad magazine as a teenager. At high school he read his first graphic novel, Asterix in Switzerland, and saw The Fantastic Art of Frank Frazetta in art lessons. He soon began collecting Heavy Metal magazine, developing a passion for fantasy illustration and comicbook art which would never go away. Dave was also fortunate to receive the encouragement of some excellent art teachers at Gawler High School in Steve Collings, Bruce Greenlees, Craig Jacobs and Bryn Jones. Along with practical instruction, they exposed him to the theory and appreciation of Symbolism, Surrealism and German Expressionism.
Heinrich graduated from the South Australian School of Art at the University of South Australia, Adelaide in 1987 with a Bachelor of Visual Arts, a practical degree majoring in painting and minoring in film. He cites fellow painting students Kit Chambers and Justin Pfeiffer as his greatest influences there. While at art school, he experimented with stopmotion animation and began caricaturing for his local football club. As Dave pursued his art, many of his high school friends pursued music, so he was soon doing posters and stage design for many local blues and heavy metal acts in Adelaide. After completing his fine art studies, Heinrich stayed on at university a further two years to complete a second degree, a Bachelor of Education in Art Teaching.
In 1990, he began his first working life as a high school design and technical drawing teacher in the northern suburbs of Adelaide, then accepting a posting in the rural Southeast region of South Australia, before heading overseas to backpack South America for most of 1991. When he returned, he finally decided that he had wanted to be an illustrator all along.
Late in the year, Dave met Glenn Lumsden and David DeVries, Sydneysiders who had settled in the Barossa Valley where Heinrich had originally grown up. They were pioneers and high-profile identities in Australian comicbooks, who at that time were the country’s most internationally acclaimed comicbook artists. Lumsden in particular became Heinrich’s mentor and a major influence.
So Dave went part-time as a teacher and set up a freelance business which would eventually become Ursis Illustration and Design. Gradually he moved away from teaching, initially eeking out a living by combining playing country football with relief teaching, to become an independent commercial artist. His first regular client was a local newspaper in the region, The South Eastern Times.
Starting out in underground small-press comicbooks, he was first published by Mad Magazine in late 1991 and then picked up by the ground-breaking Australian label Issue One (and its premier title Zero Assassin). He then met a Mount Gambier entrepreneur who published his Champions Comics for the Australian Football League, reportedly the biggest selling independent Australian comicbook ever.
Unfortunately Champions was not to last, but on the back of it Heinrich was enlisted by Lumsden and deVries to work with them. Dave commuted four hundred kilometeres home twice a week back across the state of South Australia to work on a number of the pair’s projects as an understudy, including childrens’ author Paul Jennings’ graphic novel Round The Twist for Penguin Books and The Eternal Warrior for American label Valiant. Meanwhile, he had become a consistent contributor to Mad which led to him regularly cartooning for Penthouse.
In 1994 Heinrich returned to Adelaide permanently, having all but left teaching, to join Lumsden and deVries fulltime on tackling a major adaption of The Phantom; Ghost Who Walks for Marvel. Shortly afterwards, Rod Tokely emigrated over from Melbourne and David G. Williams also came on board, expanding the group into a cooperative they called Barossa Studios. Another project entitled Ninjak for Valiant soon followed, and then they landed Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight for DC Comics.
Lumsden gave Heinrich a solid grounding in dynamic anatomy, visual storytelling, composition and inking, while Tokely taught him how to think like a businessman and not a precious artist. As Dave’s skill level developed, his various styles evolved - his cartoons influenced by Chuck Jones and Albert Uderzo, and his comicbooks inspired by Berni Wrightson and Simon Bisley in particular, as well as his favourite artists from Heavy Metal such as Richard Corben and Phillipe Druillet.
By the late 1990s, the comicbook boom was fading around the world in the shadows of computer games, so the Barossa Studios team increasingly looked to magazine and advertising work back in Australia to supplant their business. The group diversified by teaming up into various partnerships on individual projects for Mad, Cracked and the adult magazine Picture Premium. Heinrich also teamed up with Tokely on Elvira for Claypool Comics and Adelaide writer Martin Reilly on Conan The Barbarian for Marvel.
By 1997 the Barossa Studios cooperative had dissolved and Dave was increasingly working solo, doing more straight graphic design or illustrating for corporate publications. Having begun technical diagrams and spot illustrations for the fledgling Zoom magazine, he soon took on an art director’s role with the publication, composing article layouts and design styles.
However Heinrich remained close friends with Lumsden, and Tokely who had by now returned to Melbourne. With a love for custom cars, Dave teamed up with Lumsden on the strip Full Boar for Street Machine, and worked with Tokely on various cartoons for Live To Ride and other automotive magazines. Dave also circulated his own creation Diflok The Dinosaur Slayer for Fast Fours magazine.
Heinrich started outsourcing in advertising as a visualiser and storyboarder for agencies such as LRB, Y&R, Limelight, Clemengers and KWP. His most notable projects including the Workcover campaign “The Body Corporate” and Mitsubishi televison commercials. He also enjoyed being a concept artist and storyboarder for the famous Anifex studio in Adelaide, on animated television commercials for the Straits Times in Singapore.
About this time, Heinrich was invited to the Wiltja Program to tutor Anagnu and Pitjitjantjara aboriginal boarding students in cartooning at Woodville High School. At the behest of colleague and fellow South Australian cartoonist John Martin, he also taught cartooning at the Townsend House school for the visually impaired. Both were rewarding and challenging experiences.
In 1999 Dave undertook his first major print design project, a hard-bound automotive reference book with former Zoom editor Julian Edgar, featuring many of the illustrations and diagrams from the magazine. Edgar also later founded the Autopseed webzine, which Heinrich initially helped out with art direction, and was an early contributor of editorial illustrations.
Although he was now consolidating his work in print, about this time there was a shift in direction for Heinrich to new media. So, in 2000, he went back to study multimedia and web developing to broaden his repertoire.
Almost immediately after this, Dave was reunited with an old friend from art school who he originally had discovered stopmotion animation with, now an accomplished Flash animator, Loressa Clisby - who had formed the Digital Artisan studio with her partner, composer Michael Darren. As a subcontractor illustrating for 2D flash animation with them, he worked on the Pixie Award winning cartoon serial “Where Are The Toons Now” and “The Producer” cartoon show starring the voices of Tom Arnold and Jerry Springer, for the Threshold Entertainment webcam network out of Hollywood.
Digital illustration continued to supplant the traditional illustration, when Heinrich was invited by another old friend from his comicbook days and now Art Director of SSG Gaming, Alister Lockhart, to work as a character designer and scene artist on the Warlords real-time strategy PC games.
By 2001, Rod Tokely’s long-running strip in Live To Ride magazine called Stinkfinger, had established a cult-following. In 2001 he took a break from drawing it and entrusted his scripts to Heinrich who enjoyed drawing it for twelve issues. The two also teamed up as writer and artist one more time again on the short-lived strip Bingle the Bandicoot for Auto Action magazine.
Heinrich’s interests in fine art - born at art school, had always remained throughout his life as a commercial artist, evident in his striving to continue regularly exhibiting paintings, digital prints and mixed media works in a proper gallery. When his personal life changed dramatically over late 2001-2002, it sparked another return to study when he undertook a Masters degree in Art History at the University of Adelaide in conjunction with the Art Gallery of South Australia, while commencing a part-time day-job as a webmaster for the Nunga IT project to ensure financial security between 2001 and 2002.
After finishing up at Nunga IT, he temporarily wound his freelance work back somewhat to work as a curator and guide at Carrick Hill Museum and at the Maritime Museum of South Australia at Port Adelaide, but continued to keep his eye in by drawing Dharma The Cat for Sydney-based American filmmaker and theology writer David Lourie.
In 2003 Heinrich returned to design, by accepting a day-job as a webdeveloper at Optcom, an IT solutions bureau. He continued to operate as an illustrator at home however, landing such advertising commissions as the celebrated gladiator poster for the 2004 Clipsal 500 V8 Supercar event.
Around this time Dave met a brilliant young freelancer named James Fosdike, who had also worked with Digital Artisan not long after him and had once been mentored by Glenn Lumsden too. Operating under the business title Visualante, Fosdike inspired Heinrich again and the two have been collaborating on various projects ever since. Most notably, their joint exhibition “Hung, Drawn and Sorted” was a resounding success at the 2005 SA Living Artists’ Festival.
In 2005, Optcom was merged with sister business Inprint Design, a design studio and print brokerage situated in the Flinders University precinct. Dave soon found himself once again back in print design as well as developing for web. It was also here as an outsource for technical illustrations, that he would first attract the interest of the Medical Illustration and Media unit of the Flinders Medical Centre. Subsequently, over the next few years they would actively pursue him to become a fulltime employee.
In 2007, Heinrich completed his first full colour children’s book “The Goblins Picnic” for Little Hare Books, which was published in the US, UK, Europe, Israel and Australasia. He also created the CD art and website for the debut album of Dead Day Sun – today known as the Ruby Tigers – then still a young independent band from the Gold Coast who won the Coke Live competition that year.
Heinrich eventually left Inprint Design in 2008, to take up a lecturing position in digital arts and web developing at Cambridge International College back in the city. After only one semester of teaching, Dave was soon promoted to Course Coordinator, but the Medical Illustration and Media unit of Flinders Medical Centre remained keen to secure his services. They had continued to woo him after he had left Inprint Design, and by April 2009 they finally got their man.
Today, Heinrich remains employed by the Flinders University at the hospital as the art director of the unit. He has never been more active in his home studio however, collaborating with John Englehardt on multimedia illustrations for the stage screens of Australian hiphop act the Hilltop Hoods’ “State of the Art” world tour, in late 2009.
In 2010 Heinrich began working as a concept artist for Melbourne independent filmmaker Robert Jukic’s “Sacrifice” project, as well as returning to comicbooks once again as a contributor to and designer of a new Australian anthology comicbook called “Decay” - published by DK Productions. In 2012 he recentlycompleted another children’s book “The Ol' New Moon”, written by Port Lincoln fishing magnate Peter Tudorivic.
His other interests include his 1973 Valiant hardtop, which he enjoys with the Chrysler Car Club of South Australia, for whom he does all the promotional art and manages the club website. He also still loves the South Gawler Football Club, where he played a long time and virtually grew up, acting as their historian and managing their website. Dave enjoys restoring vintage arcade games such as his Williams’ Defender and playing blues harmonica.
He lives with his partner Mandy and her son Zac, and also loves the company of his dogs Ollie and Dexter.
- Tyler Roland, 2010