ORIGINAL GYOTAKU ART
By Megan L. Willoughby
Fish prints are a direct transfer, of the mystery and beauty of life in the sea, to the permanence of art. I love this medium for its’ ability to showcase a full and recognizable transfer of each fish, scale-by-scale. Every fish, and therefore every piece, has its’ own story and represents a find from the deep below, carefully crafted and well preserved. Vibrant acrylics help to enhance the natural colors of the fins, gills and scales. I’m then able to carefully hand-paint the eyes of the fish onto the print after the transfer is complete. This form, like no other, allows me to express my love and reverence for the beauty of aquatic life.
Gyotaku [“Gyo” meaning fish, and “Taku” meaning rubbing or impression] is a traditional form of fish printing. The ancient Japanese art stems from the early 1800’s when fisherman would cover a fish with ink, traditionally black sumi ink, and press delicate rice paper onto it. They would then rub the fish through the paper, making sure every inch was absorbed. When the rice paper was removed, the exact mirror image of the fish would remain. This was done to record the size and the type of fish that they caught. It also brought credibility to the “fish tales” they told. Today, Gyotaku is considered a fine art itself.