Fishing inspires biologist
to practice art of Gyotaku
Adam Mankoski, contributing writer
Thursday, March 26, 2009
See Andrew’s Gyotaku in Redding
at Art in City this summer during the annual 30/30 Show at the
Studio Experience and through April 9 at Backyard Destinations.
Andrew Jensen’s work as a
fisheries biologist for the State of California
combined with a surf perch catch at age 3 and a long family history
of fishing have influenced him to learn and practice the art of
Gyotaku, or Japanese Fish Prints. His business, One 4 Fish Prints,
is dedicated to education about fisheries resources, conservation
of existing fish populations and the advancement of the Gyotaku
Please describe Gyotaku and its
history. Gyotaku originated in Japan in the early 1800s as a way
of recording trophy catches. In the United States, it has been
practiced as an art form for about 35 years. Gyotaku prints are
said to bring good luck to fishermen. There are two Gyotaku methods:
the direct method, Chokusetsu-ho, and the indirect method, Kansetsu-ho.
I use the direct method, in which non-toxic water based inks or
oil paints are applied directly onto the side of a real fish.
Acid free archival paper or fabric is carefully pressed on to
the painted fish, and when lifted, a detailed mirror-image Gyotaku
is revealed. Each print is an original.
What is your arts background? School or
self-taught? In 1997, I took a Gyotaku class taught by
Bill Twibell through Humboldt State University’s community
courses. During my years in Humboldt County, I spent a great deal
of time fishing for trout, steelhead, king salmon and the many
marine species that existed off the coast, like ling cod, various
rock fish and the occasional halibut. When I was introduced to
Gyotaku, I found it to be an art form that truly captures the
unique beauty of each species and the perfect combination of fisheries
and art. I enjoy fish printing almost as much as I enjoy fishing.
What was your inspiration to be an artist?
My wife is an artist and has inspired me and supported my growth
as a Gyotaku artist. Her experience with the use of colors and blending
various colors to achieve desired results has been instrumental
to my growth as an artist. My sister is also an artist, studied
art at Humboldt State University and taught art at the junior high
school and high school levels. She is an amazing artist and has
always inspired me.
Name a few other artists that you admire
and why. Mineo Yamamoto is an artist who teaches art around
the world and creates amazing works of art. Bill Twibell, my Gyotaku
teacher, creates beautiful prints. Christopher Dewees is an artist
who has written books about Gyotaku, inspiring future Gyotaku artists
and increasing public awareness of the art form. His art is inspiring
These artists are also members of the Nature Printing
Society, an organization dedicated to the education, history and
practice of the art of nature printing.