Frequently Asked Questions
How did you come to practice this art form?
I taught Asian history for years and nearly moved my family to Japan early in my career. I also used to lead a winterim class at my school where we'd take a group of kids fishing for a week. In 2014, our art teacher at the time had a background in printmaking and suggested we print the fish using gyotaku. None of us had done it before, and looking back our prints were pretty bad. We thought they were great, and I kept working on them on my own. I bought a couple of pieces from other artists and asked for pointers. They were happy to help and I grew a lot as an artist. I then joined the Nature Printing Society where I learned from some of the best printers and eventually became a board member and instructor at the annual conferences.
Do you catch all the fish yourself?
Some. Others are caught by friends or people who commission me to print a fish that they caught. Occasionally, I'll acquire a fish via a fish market.
What about squid and octopus?
Publix or Asian supermarkets are where I typically source my cephalopods.
How do you take commissions?
Clients send me their fish, carefully wrapped and frozen, typically next day air. I make a run of prints, and they have first pick of the run. The price is typically the same as my other originals.
How do I prepare a fish to send?
Wrap it carefully in saran wrap, being sure to have the dorsal, pelvic, and anal fins retracted tight against the body of the fish. Fins that can't be retracted should be stabilized with cardboard so they won't crack or break during shipping. Finally wrap in paper, or a towel, or some other kind of insulation. Next day air will get it to me in tact for printing.
How many prints can you get from one fish?
It really depends on the fish. Some fish, such as trout, are very delicate and begin to lose scales and break down after only a few prints. Other fish can produce a dozen or more prints.
What do you do with the fish after printing?
It depends. A fish printed fresh or cold with non-toxic inks can be filleted and eaten. That's the most satisfying approach. Otherwise, the fish can be used for bait or compost afterward. In all cases, it's returned to the ecosystem in a responsible manner.
Do you teach classes?
I typically teach at the NPS annual conference, and have taught a lot in the past. It's typically in response to someone who has a group and wants to do the lion's share of the organization. Contact me if you'd like to discuss an idea.
What's the difference between an original print and a reproduction print?
Originals are unique works that are prepped, inked, rubbed, and pulled by hand. I scan a small percentage of my work to offer as reproductions, which are machine made in limited quantities. I currently use The Print Space out of London because of their commitment to quality of product and customer service. It takes a little longer (up to two weeks), but worth it.
Why don't you list your original prints?
I end up selling a lot of work in person and forgetting to remove it from my website and leads to a lot of chaos when people then try to purchase a piece that is no longer available. I'm a one-man operation with a full time teaching career and a family.
I have many originals that aren't listed on my website. I sometimes still have the original from which reproductions are made. The best way to inquire is to contact me and let me know what you're looking for.
How do you price your originals?
I've landed on pricing by the finished size of the piece.
What materials do you use?
For inks, I typically use water based relief ink, soy based intaglio ink, or linseed oil based etching ink. Different inks have different properties that lend themselves to different applications.
For paper, I use various washi for fish (ma, kinwashi, mitsumata, various chiri and unryu, for example).
For botanicals and tree ring prints, my go to paper is Rives BFK.
For fabric, I prefer 100% cotton muslin or quilter's cotton.
All my mats and/or foamboards are professional grade, ph neutral materials.
Do you have a favorite subject to print?
It's hard to beat cephalopods for challenge as well as myriad possibilities for compositions.
Are there any species at the top of your list to print?
Snook, Tarpon, Bull Trout, various Cutthroat Trout. These are hard to legally harvest and I'd love an opportunity to legally acquire any of them.
What makes your work different from other fish prints?
My use of color theory to mix my own palettes as well as attention to the most basic elements of composition sets my work apart from that of others.