David Tress was born in London in 1955 and grew up there, showing an early interest in painting, drawing and natural history. After studying science with biology at A-level, he changed direction and spent a year at Harrow College of Art, before taking a Fine Art degree course at Trent Polytechnic.
While he was at Trent, he became involved with experiments in conceptual and performance art but later, came to question the assumptions of modernism. His rejection of modernism was, however, not so much a return to the beginning, as a rite of passage, which has brought to his landscape and figurative painting some aspects of abstraction retained from his earlier work.
David Tress has lived in West Wales since 1976, and the landscape of this part of Britain forms the subject of many of his paintings. He has exhibited in Wales, England, Ireland, France, Holland and America and has works in public collections including: The National Museum of Wales, The Contemporary Art Society for Wales, The National Library of Wales, MOMA Wales, The Guildhall Art Gallery City of London, and Pallant House Gallery Chichester.
In 1999, he was one of forty eight British artists and designers commissioned by the Royal Mail to design the Millennium special issue of stamps.