Brian Heustis – Artist Spotlight

Q:Where do you live?

A:I’ve lived on Maui in a small up-country town called Makawao for the last 23 years.

Q:What mediums do you work in and what is your favorite?

A:As a fish printer I work with water based acrylic paints or rice paper. These are also my favorite.

Q:What are your other hobbies, and are they related to your artwork?

A:Other hobbies include, hanging with my family, which consist of my supportive, beautiful wife, Brynne and awesome, loving daughter, Makena. I love fishing, surfing, diving, and spending as much time in the ocean as possible.

Q:How did you get started and what was the evolution of your style?

A:I was introduced to fish printing about 20 years ago in Paia, Maui in a local art gallery. Not even knowing the artist was a fish printer. I simply thought he was a painter of fish. After 5 years of visiting gallery I finally asked how the artist recreated the fish so exactly. That was the moment I found out about the art of Gyotaku or translated to English, fish printing.

However I didn’t start fish printing right then, it took me about 5 years to get the courage to attempt my first fish.

It was in the cabin of a snorkel boat on the table and the crew wanted that dead Mahi Mahi out of the cabin! I still have my first print and pull it out from time to time to remember that moment and how cool it felt. I don’t have any art background and I am self-taught in fish printing. My style is constantly changing. But one constant in my style is to bring back the fish’s soul to life. I consider it my honor and privilege. So it is very important to me to make the print look as life like and realistic as possible. I experiment constantly to see what happens and what the outcome will be.

Q:What goals do you have for your artwork, what does the future hold?

A:My main goal for my artwork is two fold. First, I want to expose as many people to this wonderful, virtually unknown art form. Second, is to let the fishing community know there is now an alternative to traditional taxidermy.

I’ve developed a way, just like the molds in taxidermy, that I no longer need the actual fish to create a print. Which now allows an angler to catch a fish in Cabo and have me be able to do a fish print for him!

This is a huge breakthrough for expanding my business model. As for the future, I have no idea, but I plan on enjoying the ride!

Q:Is there a message or theme behind your artwork?

A:Its more of a mission than a message, to help anglers preserve their fishing memories!

Q:What has been the hardest project, or what is the hardest aspect of you art?

A:The two hardest fish I’ve printed was a green-eyed pufferfish. It was like trying to print a deflated football! The other was a 704-pound blue marlin where just the sheer size made everything very challenging.

Q:What brings you the most satisfaction or sense of accomplishment?

The most satisfy part of my job is seeing the look on an angler’s face when I bring their trophy fish back to life! I feel very proud and gracious when my clients tell me it shows in my work. Every fish I print is special, no matter how big or small. Each one has a story to tell and I consider it my honor to be allowed to tell it.

Q:How would you sum up your experience with Gyotaku?

A:I feel extremely blessed to have made a choice to move to Maui, which led to my introduction to this somewhat “unknown” art form almost 10 years ago. My love and passion for the ocean is the core reason for expressing myself and nature through fish printing. I’ll never forget the first time I printed a fish, when I peeled off the rice paper to look at what I created, I remember a feeling of pure joy, of finding a piece of myself I didn’t even knew existed. From that moment, I knew fish printing would be in my life forever. Aloha…

Thanks to Brian for showing us his amazing artwork. If you are interested in having Brian paint a print to preserve your fishing memories, or to get more info, visit his site Maui Fish Printing or visit him on Facebook.

If your are a charter captain, guide or lodge and would like to learn more about his “taxidermy” fish print program, then visit here.