Everybody who has dried flowers and leafs pressed between (news) papers at some moment will have seen lucky impressions staying behind.
All literature on the subject of Gyotaku started with this little book. Like Frank Morley Fletcher wrote his standard book on woodblock printing (see recent postings by “Modern Printmakers” and “Art and the Aesthete”, the links are on the opening page of this Blog), Yoshio Hiyama wrote his on Gyotaku. In 1964. Professor of Fisheries Biology at the University of Tokyo he was the founder of Gyotaku-no-kai (Association of Fish printing). Printing tools and materials very similar to a woodblock printing workshop. Except for the wood carving knifes. Kitchen knives are used after printing is done in this art form
Gyotaku or fish rubbing is a relatively new art form. It supposedly originated from Japanese fishermen who, making an impression with ink on paper of the fishes each caught, could later divide the catch or profits of the sale. A simple way of direct book keeping.
The wonderful little book is easily found (www.bookfinder.com) when interested. It is a simple and complete manual for beginners, 65 pages and many wonderful prints. Once you see the beauty of it the possibilities seem endless. Plants, stones (stone rubbing a popular Chinese variation), beach findings, shells, crabs, shrimp etc..
The Printers Catch, an Artist’s Guide to Pacific Coast Edible Marine Animals (1985), by Christopher M. de Wees, Marine biologist and American Gyotaku pioneer. The title suggesting eating your studio models afterwards is a great way to create art, have fun and have a nice meal in the end. Print it and eat it. Many wonderful prints and there is a manual inside to get started as well.Gyotaku Fish Impressions (above) by Doug Olander (1994), who’s colorful impressions brought fish printing to another, higher level.
Antarctic Fishes, illustrated by Boshu Nagase (2006), the nestor of the Gyotaku printers, and text by Marine biologists Professors Mitsuo Fukuchi and Harvey J. Marchant. Using the Gyotaku fish printing method to illustrate this scientific publication. 130 pages of wonderful and strange fish printed in full color by the Master of fish print Boshu Nagase. A huge, scholarly and massive coffee table book (still) for sale at Amazon. Available "used" for an unbelievable 12 US bucks !
To close off, these two great compositions by wonderfull artist Jean Kigel showing this art form is still evolving from a simple method of keeping book into great art. Please take in mind that only one fish is needed for making compositions on a grand scale. Visit ! You will be amazed by some of here Chinese watercolors too.
And now my friends, Onwards, armed with ink, printing paper and recipe books, on to the market place !
I hope all wonderful artists will not have any objections of their work displayed in this Blog. Here are their www connections: