Imagine having an artist’s workshop as your playroom. That’s what David’s childhood was like. Light tables, t-square, Lino-type and Compu-graphics machines were everywhere. His mother Ellen Riggs ran Sunshine Graphics, a typesetting and graphic design firm. Newport Life Magazine (which still exists today as Orange Coast Life) was one of her products, while his father Howard Riggs contributed articles and restaurant reviews. Ellen was ahead of her time as a female business owner and entrepreneur, sharing and mentoring other business owners as a founding member of Wise, an organization dedicated to small business success.
David’s first paying job was “illustrating” rocks for the Jolly Roger’s Restaurant children’s menu. It taught the lessons of hard work and perseverance… he was only 5 after all. Later he learned the lessons of uniqueness and attention to detail. One summer, seeing that his mother’s logo (a renaissance era sun) lacked a nose, he carefully penned a nose on every business card, letter and envelope he could find. A year later, this change really paid off as an east coast company tried to sue for trademark infringement ~it seems their registered logo was from the same clip art source~ the one defining characteristic turned out to be the nose, making his logo the winner!
Through his teens, David continued to study illustration, contributing to Newport Harbor High School’s literary magazine, Flotsam & Jetsam. Like many young men, he was distracted by “manly activities” but unlike most, his interest in the martial arts focused on a little known system from the Philippines called Arnis.
The first accredited American Arnis Black Belt, David is one of the few American Arnis instructors to have studied under both Grand Master Michael Replogle and Grand Master Jeffrey S. Arnold in addition to training with Professor Presas, Master Sam Tendencia and other notables from diverse arts including aikido, Kung-fu, Judo, Karate and Tae Kwon Do. Hand-selected by GM Replogle as a Senior Instructor and manager of the original Hollywood Academy, his studies expanded to include medieval European combat and weaponry as well as the historic context and sociological impact within both Asiatic and European cultures. He has personally been responsible for students of all ages and walks of life including, children, seniors, police and security officers and victims of assault. He has also applied his extensive to the entertainment industry, working on many films and TV series as a Weapons Property Master technical adviser alongside top ranked martial artists and actors including Dean Stockwell, Art Camacho, Don Wilson and other martial arts stars. While working in film and television he continued his artistic expression as an art director and production designer in numerous projects including some of the most remembered music videos of the 90s.
Returning to graphic design as the 90s drew to a close, David has continued to lead in the fields of print design, web design and video production creating packaging and national advertising campaigns for products sold throughout the US.