Doncaster artist went from miners strike cartoonist to blokhed businessman

Growing up in the 1980s, Nick Boruk always wanted to be a miner. It was what his brother did, and it was what he fancied doing himself.

Thursday, 8th March 2018, 8:31 am
Updated Thursday, 8th March 2018, 8:35 am
Doncaster artist Nick Boruk with some of his work

Sadly for him, after the miners strike, the vacancies around South Yorkshire fell away, leaving that plan no longer an option for him.

The strike however had kept him busy. Keen on drawing, he earned pocked money during that period sketching political caricatures on to T-shirts for striking miners to wear while on the picket lines.

But with mining not an option for him, Nick, of York Road, Doncaster, headed for art college after a year of unemployment, to take a graphic design business.

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Finishing his course, he went on to set up a business doing sign writing and graphic design, initially from an office in the Dearne, and then basing himself at home.

Then in the late 90s, he got a new job as a graphic designer for a recruitment agency in Leeds, taking the train from Bentley station to Leeds every day. That was his life for 13 years.

"I enjoyed it at first," said Nick, aged 49. "But it was financial recruitment, and it was corporate work. I found that everyone I worked with just wanted the design to be two men in suits shaking hands, and I didn't feel that I was being very creative at the time."

But Nick's life changed again in 2013, when he was made redundant. After a year looking round to see what he may want to do in future, he started a business course, and the following summer he started an art course at Doncaster College.

He got started and found it to be a fantastic experience. It introduced him to textiles and ceramics, which he had not tried before.

In the mean time, Nick was still doing his caricatures. Having made money from them as a youngster, by this point he was just doing them as a hobby, and as a favour for friends for special events.

Around that time, he started thinking about how he could do it for a living.

"I wanted to get away from staring at a computer," he said. "I wanted to do something with my hands."

"As a child, dad used to take me to the Sue Ryder home at Hickleton Hall. He had an old Polish friend there, who gave me a wooden box of carving tools. My final project at college gave me a chance to use them. I thought 'I like street art, and I'd like to develop my own style'. Then I started making what I called Blokheds.

"They started off based on characters that I used to see growing up in the 1980s, all little tribes, the big lads that I used to see.

"I didn't think it would take off, until I saw people's reactions at our college show. People gravitated round them and smiled. I thought there might be something in it and I decided to pursue that.

"I'm glad I did. It has revitalised me. It doesn't pay as well as working as a graphic designed did, but I'm not out of the house 12 hours a day like I was then. I'm poorer, but a lot happier.

"Now I'm also doing personal caricatures, paintings and greeting cards."

Nick has taken his work on holiday with him to promote it. For instance, he left a 'blokhed' of of Picasso in Barcelona, outside the Picasso Museum, and photographed it looking like a piece of public art. He left a Kevin Keegan near Newcastle United's football ground, also photographing that one.

He now gets commissions from people all across Doncaster, and has created caricatures of many Doncaster personalities, including Jeremy Clarkson on a plastic jerry can.

Nick's work can be found on