Imaginative, Eccentric, Genuine, Unique, Distinctive, Master
By definition, the art of engraving is “the practice of incising designs onto a hard surface by cutting grooves into it.” These surfaces are usually comprised of two very unforgiving mediums; metal and glass. Most artisans who engrave do so by hand with a hardened steel tool, which is used to cut their designs onto the surface. The desired result is a uniquely detailed and decorated object, such as a knife or a gun, with the owner’s initials or otherwise identifying markings carefully drawn on. In Lowriding, car owners have everything from suspension parts to their bumper guards engraved. Engraving is another form of artistic expression to make the owner’s ride unique, just like a custom paint job.
Born in East Los Angeles and raised in South San Gabriel California, Master Engraver David Renteria began his Lowriding career in the 1980s behind the wheel of the widely popular mini truck. A lifelong artist, David was at a show in Pico Rivera, California when he was first exposed to the art of engraving.
It was at this show when a young David noticed a guy performing some engraving duties on a car window. Somewhat taken aback, he was surprised to see this kind of customization being given to a show car. David went up to the guy and said, “With all due respect, they’re letting you do this on the car?” He turned to David and responded, “You think you can do better?” David replied, “Not now, but I’m going to go home and practice.” While this may seem out of line, it wasn’t that David was actually questioning the guy’s artistic ability; he was simply surprised to see someone engraving on a show car! Nonetheless, David went home and stayed true to his word by practicing this new art form on a daily basis.
One thing that David noticed when observing the engraver at the Pico Rivera show was the fact that the engraving being performed was not as detailed as he imagined. He felt since the engraving was being displayed on such an eye catching vehicle, it should be detailed and eye catching as well, in order to truly add something and do justice to an otherwise incredible auto build. Keeping in line with this type of thinking, David set out to ensure that his style of engraving was unique and extremely detailed.
As his reputation grew, David began to receive calls from many of the top builders in Lowriding. David answered every call, and it is his work that can be seen on a number of top notch vehicles. C&L’s 1978 Monte Carlo, “Orgullo Mexicano, two-time “Bomb Truck of the Year,” “Green Aid,” and three-time “Lowrider Bike of the Year,” “Casino Dream” are just a few examples of the projects that David has been a part of. Cultural luminaries like The Tovars, Anthony Fuentes, and Southside Car Club have all had David’s engraving on their rides. He has also worked on many custom motorcycles and other types of custom vehicles. As you can see from the accompanying photos, car owners are having David touch everything from battery tie downs to mirror posts.
Unlike many engravers in the Lowrider world, David’s art is not only limited to vehicles. If it’s made with metal, chances are that David has engraved it. He has worked on a little bit of everything; rings, handcuffs, guns, and marble headstones are just some of the unique items that have been blessed with David’s rare talent. David also has a large customer base in the custom homes industry. David has engraved Italy’s famous Trevi Fountain on a shower door. He’s worked on a wine cellar in a 23 million dollar home, and also engraved a custom staircase. David’s work also includes wedding accessories, custom gifts, and marble sculptures.
A couple of the more unique projects David has worked on include a 7×5 foot, three dimensional Virgin Mary, which he engraved on a mirror. This one of a kind creation has been featured in many museums. He also worked on a penitentiary toilet for the prison art-themed “Life Inside” Art Show in 2008. David’s art has been featured in many art shows and was also part of the Peterson Automotive Museum’s “Arte y Estilo” exhibit.
Over the years, David and his art work have been featured by many media outlets including Lowrider Magazine, Japan’s Custom Lowriding, The Los Angeles Times, La Opinion, and on local Los Angeles television networks. David has also used his art for youth outreach as well. He is a strong believer in the youth of today, as it will be them who will likely continue the art of engraving, long after David has put down his engraving tools.
After almost 30 years of practicing his art, David has no plans on slowing down, despite the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome he has experienced and dealt with. He cautions anyone that is interested in engraving to make sure that they have the proper equipment and work in a well-ventilated area. He plans on producing engraving instructional videos and selling his own line of engraving tool kits. David also plans on continuing his youth outreach to ensure the art of engraving never dies.
David would like to thank God for blessing him with his artistic talent. He would also like to thank his wife for supporting him and his artistic career. David is also very grateful to his children and grandchildren for their support, and his customers for believing in him. We here at Lowrider Magazine would like to thank David for literally leaving his mark on the Lowrider Culture for so many years.