David Austen works as a painter, sculptor, printmaker and filmmaker. Whatever the medium the elements of his work come together as if part of a strange but wonderful story which reveal a dark, yet endearing vision of the world. His paintings on flax canvas, delicate watercolour and gouache works on paper, suspended objects and staged scenarios borrow from film noir and 19th Century literature creating a bittersweet, psycho-sexual world inhabited by strange and lovelorn characters. 

In recent years, Austen has made two large groups of etchings which seem like strange storyboards for these fractured tales, and which in turn have led to the making of works in film. His first, Smoking Moon (shown at both Camden Arts Centre and the British Film Institute) was followed by Crackers, commissioned for his most comprehensive solo exhibition to date at Milton Keynes Gallery (2007), which was subsequently screened at the Locarno Film Festival and at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. In 2008 he collaborated with the artist Enzo Cucchi to make a short film in Rome, Man Smoking.

David Austen had a solo show, My love I have been digging up my own bones in the garden again at Ingleby Gallery in 2009. In the same year he was also the Stanley Picker Fellow at Kingston University where he wrote and directed his first feature length film End of Love. In 2010, End of Love was screened at Modern Art Oxford alongside his solo show Smoke Town.

In 2012, Austen's film, The Gorgon's Dream, was premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and his work was selected for the curated film programme at Art Basel Miami Beach 2013. In 2014, Austen curated the group touring exhibition The Nakeds. For the 2016 edition of Art Basel Miami Beach Ingleby Gallery presented a dedicated exhibition of work by David Austen including significant new bodies of work including Silence Beach; The light that fell upon us burned, night flowers and Nakeds. Underworld, a major survey exhibition exploring the breadth of David Austen's artistic practice was presented by Dundee Contemporary Arts in Spring, 2019.