Monday, January 30, 2012

Fish Art: Inked Animal

I was doing my daily blogroll drive-by and found this site, Inked Animal, thanks to Die Fische. Here's the 'About' section from IA's site:

"Adam Cohen and Ben Labay both work full-time as fish biologists in Austin, Texas. Since 2007 they have been working together in their spare time making unique fish and animal prints (Gyotaku). This website is intended to be a showplace for their unique works of art.

Adam grew up in Houston, Texas in a family that encouraged exploration and adventures into neighborhood ditches to collect plants and animals for aquaria. He developed a strong interest in aquaria and biology in general and has since coupled that interest with a unique artistic style. Adam has lived in Austin, Texas since 1993 studying biology at the University of Texas at Austin and earning a Masters Degree studying fish in Cuatro Cienegas, Mexico. Adam currently works full-time at the Texas Natural History Collections in Austin working with Texas fishes and in his spare time pursues various artistic endeavors. He works mostly with colored pencil, but has branched out to various media such as insect collages, Gyotaku, photography and acrylic painting. Adam’s other work can be seen at and Adam can be contacted at
Ben also grew up in the Houston vicinity with many opportunities to explore nature and fish with friends and family. His family has been fishing out of Galveston and Matagorda Bays with him since he was a toddler. Ben moved to Austin for college in 1999, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Texas at Austin in 2002. Not until returning from a 3 year sabbatical in Alaska did Ben discover the art of seining and decided to turn his focus to the study of fish and streams. He now has a masters in aquatic resources and works as a fish biologist at the University of Texas at Austin. Ben can be contacted at

Concept and process:

about by Inked Animal
Gyotaku, which literally translates to “fish rubbing”, is a traditional Japanese art form that dates from the mid 1800’s. Traditionally an image of a fish is created by inking the specimen and then pressing it against rice paper to create an ink “impression” of the original. Although traditionally and most commonly created using fish, the art form itself, we believe, should not be restricted to fish. Here we break out of the traditional mold and experiment by applying the method to other animals and various media other than traditional inks and papers as well. Being most interested and knowledgeable about the Texas fish fauna we focus predominantly on Texas fish species. But freely experiment with what we can do with other animals.

Our artistic process is continually evolving. We use various light-fast inks and acrylic paints to achieve what we believe to be interesting and beautiful artistic pieces that reflect the reality of the specimen from which the art is created. Every piece is different and no strict rules apply to our methodology except that all pieces begin with an inked or painted animal that is pressed against some material to achieve an impression. Typically some post-processing occurs where we take a brush or pencil to the impression and add various degrees of detail or interest. Specimens are collected with date and location and always identified to the lowest possible taxonomic level. As scientists we believe this gives the art considerable added value and blurs the line between science and art.

We feel very strongly about the ethical treatment and use of animals and try to limit as much as possible the taking of any unnecessary specimens. All fish specimens are acquired by legal means, with appropriate state fishing licenses and legal methods, and typically with a seine net or rod and reel. Most of the other species are found dead as road kill, and in some cases we will take specimens from permitted hunters and exterminators. When appropriate, specimens are donated to museums for long-term curation and for use in scientific research including our own."

For around $35, not bad. Pretty cool concept, I think I remember doing this in Elementary school. Keep an eye on their site, I have a feeling you'll be seeing more and more gamefish in future months.


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