The new book by TATTOO LIFE
We are proud to present our new book: 10 Years of Grindesign – The art of Robert Borbas. 300 pages of his work, ranging from t-shirt designs, heavy metal album covers, personal illustrations and sketches for tattoos in the Black and Grey style for which Robert Borbas has become a leading light for all lovers of the genre.
Starting out as an illustrator, he manages to bring to skin the dynamism and fluidity of the drawing which distinguishes his graphic illustrations and his world teeming with characters that seem to emerge from some Gothic cathedral, those statues of monsters that look like animals and strange creatures that defy description. We had an interesting chat with him about this book where he describes his amazing world, his imagination, what he selected and how the book came to be.
So, ladies and gent, welcome to the backstage of 10 YEARS OF GRINDESIGN – THE ART OF ROBERT BORBAS. (You will find the complete interview with Robert in the next issue of Tattoo Life magazine).
Robert tell us how this project got started. It includes much of the work you have done in graphics, as well as drawings and tattoo scketches, doesn’t it?
This is my very first book. And I don’t want to sound cheesy but it feels unreal. As I write these lines I have not even had the chance to check out the printed, final actual book, but I’m already super happy and more than honoured. The fact that it comes out under the wings of a prestigious publisher just makes me super proud and satisfied at the same time since I never wanted to publish something that is only 99%. This release is something I will be proud of for the rest of my life and it’s a 100%.
The idea of releasing a book had been in the air for years now. I had already started to collect my work in 2018 but because of so many other projects and the lack of time I never really revisited the idea of putting together a book. During the quarantine weeks, Miki (Vialetto) approached me to contribute to his project “Pandemia”.
I was honoured to be a part of something like this and word after word we started to talk about a possible book.
After we had talked more and more about details and the general idea of the book, we figured out that actually, we could come out with a massive 300 page book. And after collecting the final pieces from 2012, I asked Miki if we could do the whole book in chronological order. It seemed a cool idea to showcase the progress and how my general approach to illustration and later to tattooing has changed in ten years.
This release guides the reader on the same road I travelled and still am travelling. In addiction to this, I wanted to include some scans without cleaning them so it gives a more natural look to how my sketches or even inkings look before digitalising them. For me this look is the more appealing and it tells more about the concept. It shows the process also, how the actual piece was built up and how it changed until it finally reached its finished form.
Shall we virtually go through it together?
You flip through four sections mostly filled with illustrations and one huge chapter showing tattoo designs and sketches. The first four parts are separated by years. Each part covers a period of 3 years except the last one which is 2019-2020.
It includes many covers you have made for music bands, doesn’t it?
I’ve worked for a huge number of bands. Mostly t-shirt designs, but throughout the years I’ve designed a fair amount of covers too. One of them which I’m really proud of is Soilwork’s Ride Majestic album cover. This band, alongside with At The Gates, and In Flames, shaped my music taste and opened the gateways to the melodic but extreme metal bands. I also worked for a lot of Hungarian hip-hop acts. Scarcity BP, Killakikitt, NKS, TKYD, and many more. I had the privilege to work with some skateboard companies like Demon Seed Skateboards or the legendary CREATURE skateboards. If I could pick one specific project I think the signature ska.
Let’s go into a bit more detail: Tattoos and paperwork have always the same imprint, from the point of view of thematics to the use you make of fine line and the rich details in your work.
I realised when I started to work on illustrations that I think of them as tattoos, mostly because of the composition. I think the two things affected each other well. Gustav Dorè’s work is something I think if I hadn’t studied it my whole life and whole “style” would be different. I was always impressed by the iconography of the Old Testament in the Bible. I basically grew up in Catholic school. I think there is some sort of spiritual higher power, whatever you call it, it is a matter of how you educate yourself and how you live your life.
I think this spiritual higher power could be a nice inspirational leading force in art. I try to have as many sources of inspiration as possible.
Books, music, a good walk in a forest, etc. It’s actually mind-blowing for me how small details in a tree, for example, could show the most perfect and complicated structure we cannot even imagine. Learning from these details, looking for these details, could produce a better and more balanced art form. What I’m really happy about is I’m pretty sure that the way I work now is also just the part of the process and it will lead to new exciting fields!
In the book there is some text written by you. Would you like to talk about it?
When we had the final structure and concept for the book with Miki, Ii felt it needed some explanation before each chapter. I would not say it’s an autobiography, but some small details and a summing up of each era are a great help to have a better understanding of the past ten years. It was really hard to keep it short but informative.
So many things happened, so many great people I had the chance to meet and a crazy amount of nice projects.
It also felt really good to have a little bit of retrospective process and it helped to make a more coherent book. I’m happy that I could dedicate this book to everyone who has been a part of my road. You made it possible and I’m sure that because of you this road will take an exciting new direction and that I will open a new chapter by releasing this book!