Corinne, welcome to my blog. I'm excited to share your art with our readers - your work is more fascinating than I imagined!
What type of art do you create?
Gyotaku involves fish and rubbing to create an impression on paper of the subject.
For my bear paw artworks, I use castings made from the paws of an actual Kodiak brown bear. I purchased the castings from a taxidermist in Anchorage, which is two hours away from our home.
How did you get started creating this particular type of art?
I was artistically inclined as a child and teen and was always sketching. Consequently, I
was often told by others that I should “be an artist” when I grew up. I had absolutely no intention of being an artist when I grew up; the reason being that “starving” and “artist” were synonymous in my mind. I planned on having a good paying job, not one where I was barely scraping by.
Fast forward to the age of 48. After 15 years working for the US Postal Service and 4 ½ years at a bank, I was 7 ½ years into my state job as a correctional officer at Alaska’s only (at that time) maximum security men’s prison. Keith also worked there and was a year away from reaching his 20 year retirement date.
Keith wasn’t particularly comfortable with me working at the prison and had been trying to talk me into quitting for a couple of years. Finally, one night I decided to pray about it. I asked God to please give me a concrete sign to quit my job if that was what He wanted me to. A sign I couldn’t ignore.
I went to bed that night thinking that if it was God’s will for me to quit maybe I’d have some really cool, prophetic dream telling me as much. But no. I woke up the next morning not having dreamt anything special. However, the very first words out of Keith’s mouth were, “Are you going to quit?” I started to pull out my standard argument when I felt an inner nudge. It was as if the Holy Spirit were saying, “Hey! You asked for this. No more arguing!”
Keith was shocked when I reluctantly said, “Ok. But can you give me just one day? I’ll put in my two weeks’ notice tomorrow.”
When June rolled around again I got to thinking that as fun as not working was I was too young to officially retire. Money had always been something I was concerned about; having grown up without it. I didn’t want to have fun for a while and then wind up paying for it later when I was older and was less employable. So once again I petitioned God. This time I asked him for a job that wasn’t necessarily full time but was something that I would enjoy doing and that I could earn a little money at.
A day or two after submitting my online application to the National Park Service, I received an e-mail from an artist acquaintance of mine. She had a wholesale Gyotaku art print business. I’d known her for close to twenty years and although I liked her we didn’t particularly know each other very well. She also worked out at the prison with Keith and me, but on the opposite rotation so I rarely saw her.
Her e-mail said she was looking to pass her business onto someone and she wanted me to have it. I was familiar with her artwork, liked it, and had a concept of how it was done. I couldn’t imagine why she’d be offering it to me, however, and wanted absolutely nothing to do with it, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that. Instead I put her off by suggesting that we (me, Keith, and her) sit down and discuss it. For some reason I thought it’d be easier to tell her no in person.
When we met, she explained that I was the only person she wanted to pass her business to because she thought it would be the perfect business for me.
The only money she wanted for the business was just what she had in inventory, but was in no hurry to get paid for that. The cost of the inventory wasn’t the problem. The problem was that I still wasn’t interested in taking over an art business, but rather than coming right out and saying so, I stalled again. I said, “Let Keith and I go home and discuss this further, and then we’ll get back to you.” I turned to Keith, to get his confirmation, but instead - and he’s never done this before or since – he threw me under the bus by saying, “What is there to talk about!?”
So that’s how I, a woman who had never painted before, became a Gyotaku artist. Painting in the eyes on a fish rub absolutely terrified me at first, but now that’s one of the things I enjoy the most. I feel like my eyes give “life” to my fish.
I belatedly realized that this business was God’s answer to my prayer. After decades of artistic dormancy, I was once again experiencing the joy that creativity brings.
Since taking over my friend’s original business, back in January of 2015, I have expanded it to include art cards, fine art Giclees on metal, gallery wrapped canvases and many original works of art. All of which are available for purchase on my official artist website Ink Goes Wild Alaska. My website also includes the link to my online Zazzle store of the same name.
My Zazzle store, coupled with Photoshop, has allowed me to take my works of art to the next level by using them to create an endless host of wonderful and creative merchandise designs. Who knew “retirement” could be so much fun?
I’m eternally grateful to my Heavenly Father for knowing me better than I know myself and for not letting me get in the way – try as I might – of what He knows is best for me.
Tell us the story behind one of your favorite creations.
About the Artist
Learn more about Corinne's art work and follow her blog at Ink Goes Wild.
Original Photography Turned into Art
Some funky, some beautiful.
Some bold, some gentle.
Some playful, some romantic.
Meet the Artist: Krystine Kercher
Our Trip to La Jolla
Dreaming of Vacation?
My Inner Artist