A strong, slow, quivering hand holding the pen places itself gently upon the paper and slowly strokes upward, curving smoothly like a linear whisper, staining the image of whimsy, like a dark dream given life.

One line speaks millions; Daringly stylish as Alexander McQueen and bizarre as Lewis Carroll, this is the work of Daniel Van Nes; frightening, beautiful, mysterious. Driven by both possibilities and impossibilities, escapism and Heavy Metal, no other artist was a better fit to illustrate the comparable visions of Dark Fortress’ glorious journey of abduction and transformation, Venereal Dawn — and Morean, Dark Fortress’ resident maestro and front man, knew it.

“We connected like on that creative level,” Van Nes said. “It’s like sometimes you don’t need to say a lot of words to know exactly what you need. So, when he asked if I wanted to work on the Venereal Dawn album, I knew that it was going to be great in the first place, so of course I said, yes.”

What sets Van Nes’ work aside from the common market is that each two-dimensional piece animates the subject so vividly, the song can almost be heard in the silence. Where blood, guts, fire, trees, inverted crosses and pentagrams saturate the Metal art motifs, the Venereal Dawn collection is a complete package of color and shadow, weaving Fortress’ path that the album paved.

For Daniel, it takes more than just understanding one medium to achieve that accomplishment. With music being his principal muse for his own work, the connection was a natural one. “I think that the answer is in the fact that I, myself, I’m very interested in all kinds of music. While I grew up with Metal, I listen to Carcass, Deftones or even before that, I was listening to punk. So, every aspect of heavy music has passed and I’ve been there from the beginning.

You can see where in the music scene the record keeps going through the same tracks again and again and again, not going anywhere. Meanwhile, as a person, you develop and you listen to other kinds of music, you start appreciating others and I think the same goes for Morean.”

“When we got to talk about things,” he explained further, “we were working side-by-side while he was working on lyrics and music and the band was developing the songs and the tracks. It was a really natural process where I worked on the drawings and the painting, everything just came together. It was just a really great process. I don’t think there was any moment where I thought or felt not being free to do what I wanted. And from what I got from Florian is that this was exactly what he had in mind. I think the band, as well, was happy with the results.”

But, the journey didn’t stop there for Daniel. Since then, he has unveiled a project he orchestrated beyond high fantasy, called SellFable City, a living, electric-breathing entity to put The Matrix’s vision to shame. “The world that I’m working on that I’m kind of discovering…and the works that come from that world is actually not a man-made world. It’s just some parallel universe thing that kind of creeps into our world. And this world is ready to take over this world – it’s drawn by the electricity that we use and the energy that we have within ourselves.

I don’t even see it as one story. I see it as an actual world that. Maybe I have to explain a little background – it’s a very complicated concept I’ve been working on for years.”

The SellFable City’s debut, Circuit Circus exhibition at TETEM in Enschede, Netherlands, was received with awe. “We did a performance and we’re going to build on that and do more performances more towards theatre. There will be more people involved than just me doing the art. So it’s going to be very interesting it’s also a way to make that world more real, actually really creep into our world.

I know for myself, what’s happening is that it’s becoming more ‘real.’ I’m finding more ways to express – also, it’s still art and it’s still expressing myself through my art. While I’m kind of backing away from my name as Daniel Van Nes as the artist and transforming it into the SellFable Archivist. I like to take things kind of slow. I probably think of things too much. But, it’s something I can feel becoming more real.

It’s like being in the dark in a full, complicated room with all these delicate things and you have to find your way through that room without breaking anything.”

Written by: T. Ray Verteramo
Read the original interview with images on Iron Raven