Originally from Derbyshire, England, Dave Smith studied painting at Derby College of Art (now University of Derby) and Hornsey College of Art (now middlesex University). After some part-time teaching in art schools, he formed the art collective Electric Colour Company with three other artists, working out of a studio in Shoreditch, London.
In 1973, he left England for the Bahamas where he embarked on a prolific period of painting with photo-realist and neo-pop overtones, which he showed in a number of solo and group shows in Nassau and Miami, Florida, where he was represented by Gallery of 24. He remained in the Bahamas for 17 years and was one of 11 principal artists featured in 'Artists of the Bahamas', a 2008 documentary feature film about the key artists who contributed to the initial art movement in the Bahamas. He left the Bahamas in 1990, moving to Los Angeles, where he continues to live and work.
Although much of his work comments on contemporary American society, he often draws on his Caribbean experience. in recent years he has been in group shows in Nassau, Bahamas; Waterloo, Iowa; Tallahassee, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; Vienna, Austria and Leipzig, Germany. His most recent solo show was at the D'Aguilar Art Foundation in Nassau in 2016 and has more recently participated in two separate group shows in the Los Angeles area, focusing on British artists working in Southern California.