As we all learned from the roughly 20 different SAW movies, horror and gore for the sake of horror and gore is fun for the first few minutes, but after a while it loses its luster. There is a very fine line between finding the beauty in the dark and foreboding and teetering into overdone kitschy nonsense territory. Artist Rob Borbas is a master of horror, his work a testament to the underlying beauty that can be found in between the grim and gruesome subtleties of his illustrations. Sadly, Borbas lives on the other side of the world, operating out of Budapest, Hungary, but if you’re a real horror fan, the 10-12 hour flight should be just another drop in the bucket.
Tattooing exclusively in black and grey, Borbas uses fine lines and shading to really bring his ghouls to life. Focusing primarily on otherworldly creatures like possessed wolves, demons, and skeletal soldiers (presumably the ones that guard the gates of the underworld), Borbas’ work is incredibly dark, but it is dark with purpose.
There is never a time when Borbas uses gore or horror for the sake of shock factor, each and every detail he incorporates is done purposefully. While the possessed wolf is carrying a severed hand in its mouth, it acts as more of a layer of characterization rather than a crutch. The severed hand adds another layer of demonization without being overly grotesque. This combined with his black and grey ink brings a level of darkness that is refined, not unlike a good Stephen King novel.
When done correctly, horror work is some of our absolute favorite work. Rife with imagination and full of hellish delight, Borbas’ work is sinful, of course so is spending all that money on a plane ticket to Budapest, but hey, YOLO — or whatever the kids are saying these days.
If you want to know more about the history, designs, and artists of Illustrative Tattoos, be sure to check out our guide right here.