BD introduces Greg Aragon as he shares his experiences and love of Gyotaku art.
Q:Where do you live?
A:I live in Largo, Florida between Clearwater and St Petersburg near Indian Rocks Beach.
Q:What mediums do you work in and what is your favorite?
A:I’ve specialized in Gyotaku (fish rubbings) using artist’s acrylics on black and white rice papers. I also build custom frames for my work.
Q:What are your other hobbies, and are they related to your artwork?
A:Yes I’ve been saltwater fishing all my life. I started as a young teen fishing big bass lakes north Tampa. I then moved across to bays and beaches around Indian Rocks Beach. I grew up fishing Big Indian Rocks Fishing Pier and lived in Florida Keys in my early 20’s.
I’ve always been into the sea and sea-life around the beach.
Q:How did you get started and what was the evolution of your style?
A:I got started doing this as a hobby for a short time. I saw my first Gyotaku 50 years ago in a Key West store and I did a few after that, but I put it down for years. I then started again some years later. Not many people had seen Gyotaku 20 years ago and I was one of the only ones doing this. I since have taught classes and held workshops and enjoyed sharing my experience to art lovers and fish-rubbing enthusiasts.
Q:What goals do you have for your artwork, what does the future hold?
A:Of course every artist has the goal of creating income, but I am always perfecting, improving, and sharing what I have learned. I’m looking forward to having more time to teach.
Q:Is there a message or theme behind your artwork?
A:Gyotaku is an elegant and traditional method of immortalizing and celebrating the natural beauty and diversity of fish.
Q:What inspires you?
A:My work is my inspiration because I’ve always loved fish and the sea.
Q:What has been the hardest project, or what is the hardest aspect of you art?
A:Large fish are often very difficult. A 233-pound tarpon, 120-pound warsaw grouper and a sailfish have been a few of my hardest rubs. I work hard to make my rubbings look like the actual fish and sometimes that is difficult.
Q:Where do you get all of these fish to rub?
A:Being an avid fisherman in the area for so long, I have had the benefit of a growing list of other captains, including charter, commercial and recreational. People have become fascinated with having a rubbing done of their catch, so when they get something unique, I get the call. It has also been a long-standing tradition that I do a rubbing of the winning tournament fish for big tournaments in our area like the King of the Beach Tournament.
Q:I saw your images on floor mats at ICAST, tell me more about that?
A:Yes I have a partner and we created RealFish Gyotaku. We print my Gyotaku images on high quality floormats, cutting boards and more. Fishermen have gone wild for them and our list of products is growing. They are in restarunts, homes and sportfishing boats. We have spread all over Florida and its expanding from there. It is satisfying to see my images in the public after so many years of doing this art. People get obsessed with it and decorate every wall of their house and now the floors. It is fun to see. Our website is RealfishUSA.com.
Q:What brings you the most satisfaction or sense of accomplishment?
A:Pulling off a good fish rubbing for the customer is always important but I really enjoy doing a tournament winning fish or a kid’s first catch. I really like teaching others this art form and donating my work to many charity driven fishing events. Over the years I’ve been featured on numerous TV news shows and publications. My art is being displayed in over 100 fine dining seafood restaurants including Salt Rock Grill, Middle Grounds Grill, Bonefish Grill, Moonfish, Fishbones, and Charley’s Steakhouse in Orlando.