I am an artist and a professional sportfishing captain taking anglers to out-of-the-way locations in Costa Rica, Panama, Galapagos and Tahiti. I started doing Gyotaku several years ago as it is such a great way to record fish and then to preserve it as art.
Gyotaku is a Japanese fish printing art created by warlords in the early 1800’s. The warlords used rice paper and natural berry inks to preserve the exact sizes of their catch. They would compete with each other and needed a way to honor and record the fish. At first the rubbing was done with just a black ink strictly to record size and species, but at a later date it evolved as an art form with many colored inks, paints and beautiful paper.
The fish is laid out on the beach at the end of the fishing day and brushed with a non toxic acrylic paint. I then rub it onto a high quality rice paper. After the printing, the fish is washed off, filleted and consumed. The paper is dried and rolled for travel. Some details such as eyes and a signature is added at a later date in my studio.