Dave Borba is an avid outdoorsman, an adventurer, a world traveler. He also happens to be a native of Salt Lake City; one of its most interesting natives, we say. Dave has dazzling blue eyes, a warm smile, and a killer beard, which he has vowed not to shave until after the Utah Arts Festival. Once you start talking to him, you realize what a creative genius he is. He's a true master of his crafts; painting, woodworking, and sculpting metal are among his many talents. Every tiny detail in his work is well thought out [or not], and it makes for a masterpiece in every undertaking. He does it all, and does it well.
At what age did you realize your creative brilliance? Wow! Umm...blushing. I don’t refer to my creativity with such words...kinda throws me a bit when people do. I really can’t pin down a specific age. I was always messing around with things, tearing things apart, making new things, sketching, and exploring my world through the creative process.
Did you have any mentors early in your process? I owe endless amounts of gratitude to my friend and mentor, Adrian Prazen, for being such a generous resource and inspiration. He’s a walking, talking encyclopedia. He’s taught me so many things that have allowed me to push my creative boundaries. You should check out some of his work on Etsy. I’d also like to pay respect to a great mentor and influence of mine who passed away last fall, Robbert Baird. It was a heavy blow to hear the news. He was a great man, and a rare breed of craftsman…truly a loss.
What type of art do you most identify with? Hmmm...tough one. I have a hard time pinning something down. It’s a combination of visuals paired with a good soundtrack that I identify most with. That combination, when the mix is just right, stirs me more than just about anything. A good movie nails it, but I’m definitely not a film buff...I don’t have the time for it. Sometimes I like to go for walks or drives, just for the sake of walking or driving - they’re at their best when what I see creates melodies in my mind. There’s something about passing scenery that stirs and inspires emotion. It may be a stretch to call moments like that 'art' in a conventional way, but I think it’s art in its purest form. Life is art, right?
How do you describe your style? Eclectic. I have a hard time explaining it. I’ve come up with “Vintage-Inspired Interactive Folk Art” -- that’s my best stab at an explanation. How does that sound?
Who did you look up to as a child? My Grandfather.
Who do you look up to currently? My Son.
What part of the process do you most enjoy doing (painting, carving, sculpting)? Carving wood. There’s a very zen-like quality to it, and you have to be present in the moment. If your mind strays, you can lose hours of work in an instant. It’s a very meditative process. There’s also a relationship aspect to it: the wood gives and takes, and you have to respond accordingly with the pressure you’re putting on your tools. It’s like dancing with a partner, and you’re constantly changing lead as you move along. The wood always has a will of its own that influences the end result. When I’m carving it also means I’m working on a new piece and taking a break from the sometimes-monotonous world of reproduction.
Do you have any hidden talents? Oh, I don’t know. If you find any, will you tell me?
What inspires you? Livin’, lovin’ (fallin’ in & fallin’ out of)...life.
What makes you angry? When people ask me what makes me angry. Kidding! I don’t know. Oh! I’ve got one! PEOPLE THAT DRIVE SLOW IN THE LEFT LANE, and STAY there, blocking the lane! I’ve got places to go, yo! Yep. Anger happens.
What is your dream project? Creating all of the bits and pieces for a short film from scratch -- story, set, props, score, etc. That’d be pretty epic! I also think retiring from the 9-5 world would be a really dreamy project.
Who is your favorite artist? It changes from moment to moment, and there are too many to choose from to just pick one…
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? I was 12 years old and standing just outside the parlor of a house of ill repute...I don’t think I can repeat what was said here, but it changed my life forever. I just made that up – or did I?
What could you absolutely not live without? The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given…
Favorite/most inspirational place you have traveled to? Ireland. I learned to land on my own two feet while taking leaps-of-faith. I had a work permit, a backpack, and absolutely no idea where I was going to spend my first night after getting off of the plane in Dublin. I also learned how to land flat on my arse. I learned a lot on that trip.
What was your favorite childhood story-fairy tale/folktale? My favorite stories as a child were my grandfather’s stories about fishing, trapping, and working in the mines. He was a great storyteller. Ever since I was a kid I’ve yearned to live a life that would yield fine tales to the ears of those willing enough to listen.
Share something funny that has happened to you recently. Just this morning I put my jacket on upside-down and apparently looked REALLY confused while my co-worker laughed at me. In my defense, it was early in the morning, and last night was a late night full of Bluegrass and whiskey.
What is your favorite art work? (yours or someone else’s) I’m going to say “Flight of the Wounded Bird” (my own piece); not because I think it’s great or better than anyone else’s work, but because it was the most challenging artistic process I’ve ever endured, and I’m still learning from it.
What jobs have you done, other than being an artist? There’s been a handful, ranging from greens keeper to industrial designer, with a dash of photography, graphic design and product development along the way. I’m a fan of havin’ many hats to choose from, depending on the weather.
What’s your scariest experience? Being a parent and realizing that my son is so much like me! Spooky!
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? There are so many places yet to see! Umm...the Dalmatian Coast. We’ll start there.
What superpower would you have and why? Flight. Why? Because it would be AWESOME! My soundtrack would be much like this, Greatest American Hero The Complete Series...but hopefully I’d be more graceful.
What is your favorite restaurant in Salt Lake City? The Park Café. Ask’m for “Borba’s usual”... it’s a tasty slice of french toast with strawberries and bananas. Chances are, you’ll see me there if you get there early in the mornin’. I’m also a fan of Eva’s.
Tell me more about your creative process…I could ramble on, but I’ll keep it short and sweet. It’s fun, it’s frustrating, it’s always messy, it’s all-consuming, tiring, inspiring, and involves a little bit of everything I can get my hands on. Sometimes it’s well-planned, and other times I wing it. It changes day-to-day, piece-by-piece.
What is your preferred subject, and why? I’ve always enjoyed birds as a subject, though I rarely get around to them. I’ve always been fascinated by our feathered friends, their flight, their songs, and their big spirits bundled up in such small and fragile vessels.
What inspires you to keep going, and how do you keep yourself motivated? I have no idea. Just when it feels like I can’t give anymore, there’s an inner urge to push on through. It’s hard at times...it’s hard a lot of the time, but it’s what I do. Last year, I pushed a little too hard for a little too long and needed to take a nice, long break away from the creative process. Now, I find myself overwhelmed by it again in preparation for the Utah Arts Festival in June. I’m trying to stay motivated by finding moderation and balance between creative process and the rest of life -- by not running myself to exhaustion. This year I’m trying to make sure I take some time off to play, but it’s hard to take breaks knowing that the UAF is my biggest financial opportunity of the year. I guess trying to keep a roof over my head is a pretty big motivator. LOL!
Describe yourself in 5 words: Optimist | Pessimist | Reckless | Cautious | Dichotomy
Do you currently have any works in progress? If so, can you clue us in to their style and subject matter? Or how they're connected to or developed from what you have done in the past? Oh my! I have MANY works in progress at the moment! I’m currently in full-production mode for the Utah Arts Festival and knee deep in bits and pieces. If I get to a point where I feel comfortable with my inventory, I have a new interactive piece I’d like to work that is based on my piece, "Lover’s Bloom"...I’ll leave it at that for the moment. Hopefully, I’ll be able to show it at the festival, but I’m not making any promises. I don’t need anymore pressure, LOL!
Do you have any shows coming up? Indeed, I do! I have two shows on the horizon. First up is a fundraiser for Art Access on May 17th titled 300 Plates. I have two pieces in that show, and you can find out more info about the event at accessart.org. You can also see a clip of one of the pieces, “The Wounded Bird Flies Again” on Youtube at Tome Waits - What's He Building In There?. After that, it’s a big production push for the Utah Arts Festival, June 21-24th. Check out their website for what they’ve got lined up for this year’s festival, uaf.org. It’s going to be a great year!
Dave and his incredible work can be found at booth #38 at the Utah Arts Festival, June 21-24.
Explore his website here Dave Borba.