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A Magazine for Sheffield
20 Swifts

Borg Life is short, art is long

Dan Waters' art is a constant push-pull between the macabre and the illuminating, between death and life, between black and white. 

Dan Waters, or Borg as you may know him if you're familiar with his work already, is an artist who knows there can be a fine line between horror and beauty.

With Bosch's eye for detail and Bacon's sensitivity, I find that in these monochrome beauties there is a constant push-pull between the macabre and the illuminating, between death and life, between black and white. Dan told us more.

20 Swifts

At first glance it's tempting to describe your art as gothic. Is that a generalisation or something you identify with?

I do love the patterns and attention to detail in gothic art and I certainly try to make drawings that are visually satisfying.

I find the decorative and the macabre to be a fascinating juxtaposition. For me it can create an atmosphere or a mood of intrigue and mystery in a drawing. So in that sense my work could be described as gothic. While I do take inspiration from many different styles of art, gothic included, it's not a deliberate identification of mine.

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Is working in black and white effective in a way that a more vibrant colour palette would not be?

I love the look of black and white and when I get ideas they're almost never in colour.

Working with black ink on a white page is limiting, but it's freeing too. Removing the choice and being constrained to black and white is something that suits me, at least for now. I think the binary approach saves me from worrying too much about how to draw, so I can focus on what to draw. That's where the fun is.

When I started drawing I was influenced by Adrian Baxter, Sin Eater and other folk artists. Seeing their work set me on this path, making black ink drawings, and I've been developing my style in this medium for a few years. That's not to say I'll never make colourful art. It just hasn't happened yet.

2 Big Swan

To me it seems that there's a deep kind of pagan mysticism running through your work. Is this reflective of your own philosophy or is it simply a point of inspiration?

It's a bit of both. I like drawing organic elements and animals because they're nice to look at, but I like to try and suggest something with these things too, or tell a story. It's about combining something beautiful with something meaningful. Many of us, myself included, find meaning and mystery in nature. I think that's where I'm coming from at the moment, as an artist.

Lots of visual folklore finds its way into my drawings and I guess some of this could be seen as pagan. Most of my work is about the tension between life and death, and the fine line between the two. Philosophically something along the lines of 'memento mori' and the Mexican Day of the Dead. Hares and snakes and their skeletons are both reminders of death and celebrations of life. I think that's quite a pagan idea.


Are there others who inspire you creatively or stylistically - artists, musicians, writers and thinkers?

The artists Shitjesus and Nazusk are big creative inspirations in a bit of a departure from my own style. Many of the poems in Falling Awake by Alice Oswald have been a strong influence on my most recent drawings. The novelist Haruki Murakami and the album End Of History by Fionn Regan are lifelong inspirations.

Currently, my biggest stylistic influences are Gands and Jas Helena, who both make really stunning black ink work. Since I moved to Sheffield in 2015 the creative communities here have been inspirational and supportive. This city is fantastic for that. It's wonderful to be part of such a diverse range of expression.

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Do you have anything in the near future that fans should look out for?

I'll be releasing more screenprint editions and digital prints in the next few months which, along with my current offering, will be available on my webshop. Plans for a Sheffield exhibition of many of my original drawings are also in the pipeline.

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