Anglers create mementos of their catch with PaperFin fish printing kits.
CHICAGO – Do you Gyotaku?
If asked “Do you Gyotaku?” most people would think it’s some sort of trick question. However, those who understand might say “I’ve tried it, it’s difficult, and isn’t Gyotaku a noun, or was I Gyotaku’ing?”
Gyotaku is a method of creating prints of fish, traditionally using ink and paper. A method that can be more difficult to perform than it is to pronounce. Originated in Japan, Gyotaku provided anglers a way to make a record of fish long before camera phones.
Origination stories vary, from Samurai warriors making prints of their catch during fishing competitions, to more practical purposes, like hanging prints above fish fillets at the market so consumers could recognize the fish they were buying. Fish printing transitioned into an art form from there.
Traditionally, Gyotaku artists mix soot and water to make ink to apply to fish and place rice paper on top to create a print. While many have tried, Gyotaku requires advanced artistic abilities. It is difficult to mix ink properly, too thin and it can bleed through the paper, too thick and the details of the fish are lost. Artists must also master applying ink to the fish or end up with what looks like an ink blob. The traditional method is messy, requires many supplies and takes practice to achieve realistic results, which has limited its popularity.
However, Gyotaku has emerged in popularity recently. PaperFin, creator of do-it-yourself fish printing kits, innovated the traditional method and uses an inkless technology, which removed the requirement of having artistic talents to make accurate fish prints.
“Innovation has allowed us to provide anglers of any age an affordable option to create a memento of their catch that they can be proud to hang on the wall. Anglers don’t have to choose between a photograph or an expensive fiberglass replica, they can catch the fish and make a memento of it themselves,” said PaperFin Founder, Robert Chenoweth.
PaperFin kits use a special solution towelette, which is applied to the fish, and specially coated paper. “The process is simple. Dry the fish, apply the towelette, and then press the paper on top. The prints are very detailed. You can count the individual scales of the fish,” said Robert. Unlike the traditional ink method, PaperFin’s process is clean, you don’t cover your fish in ink, requires no drying time and you can eat your fish afterward.
“Anglers are choosing PaperFin to create mementos of their catch because our kits are affordable and make amazing prints. Ink printing is difficult and labor intensive. Our inkless method has opened this form of taxidermy to the masses,” said Robert.
PaperFin is attending the ICAST sportfishing trade show in July.