Stirling artist’s Japanese art style catches the eye of a WA Art Gallery

Deryck Tan, a Stirling resident, practices and shares an unusual and traditional form of Japanese art called Gyotaku- printing fish and other sea life. What started as an interest and hobby has caught the attention of a WA Art Gallery and a whole new following! 

Since mid-August 2020, Deryck’s Gyotaku prints, which he customises as his own, with the addition of WA’s rich marine life of crabs, squid, cuttlefish, octopus and more, are hanging at Fremantle’s Staircase Gallery alongside the works of other talented local artists. 

Deryck’s first ever exhibition has been received so well that it has opened up doors to new exciting opportunities to showcase his art.

“In May this year, I received a call from Teresa Fernandez, the Manager of The Staircase Gallery, who had discovered my art on Instagram,” explained Deryck.

“She invited me to have some of my works hung at the Gallery which was a really humbling feeling and an opportunity that has opened up more doors to share my passion for this type of art.”

Since then, Deryck has been invited to run Gyotaku workshops in Albany in early October whilst also showcasing his prints with 50 other artists at Perth Art Upmarket – one of WA’s largest art market events – on Saturday 17 October at UWA.

A veterinarian by day, Deryck has loved fish all his life but only came to practice Gyotaku in the last four years, which he now religiously works on during weeknights and weekends.

“Whenever I can find the time, I fish from my kayak and also freedive to spearfish to essentially ‘capture’ my subjects,” explained Deryck.

“Spearfishing is the most sustainable form of fishing. We can choose which fish we want to target. This means no injury to undersized fish and no bycatch, unlike line fishing and commercial net fishing.”

“Sometimes my subjects are supplied by friends or clients who want to immortalize their prized catch with a Gyotaku print.”

Deryck’s marine subject is then washed multiple times and towel dried before an ink such as Sumi ink or acrylic, is applied to the subject and excess is dabbed off. A canvas such as rice paper or cotton is then placed over the subject and the ink is rubbed in. Finishing touches and details such as eyes are added after this laborious process to complete the Gyotaku process. The ink is thoroughly washed off the subject, which is then prepared for dinner. 

As interest grows in Deryck’s art from his first ever gallery exposure, he is now more confident and motivated to share the traditional Japanese Gyotaku style to more Western Australians.

“The Staircase Gallery has been such a great learning experience and confidence booster,” said Deryck.

“Because Gyotaku is still a relatively new concept in WA, I was more focused on doing this as a creative outlet, but with much interest shown locally from our community, I am excited to be able to share and showcase the beauty of WA marine life more in this art form.”For more information on Deryck’s work, please visit: