The Process

Gyo (fish) taku (to press or rub) is the Japanese method of fish printing in which fish are used as a printing plate. It began in the 1800’s as a way for fishermen to record their catch. Today, it is recognized as a form of nature printing.


Traditional gyotaku uses sumi ink derived from pine soot and is printed on washi, paper made from mulberry. However, the artform has expanded to include acrylic and oil paints, screen printing inks, and a variety of papers and fabrics.


There are two main methods of gyotaku. The direct method entails painting ink directly on the fish and then molding paper over the printing plate (fish) to transfer the image. 


The indirect method involves covering the fish with rice paste and silk or paper and then carefully applying inks layer by layer to capture a fish’s characteristics. 


Nate is accomplished in both methods of the art form.