Here’s a really great, exhaustively researched and put-together article on Takeshi Yamada, artist and rogue taxidermist (he currently appears on AMC’s “Immortalized”). In fact, this is the best, most complete one I could find.
I mentioned his work last week in this piece, and how I accidentally discovered his work on You Tube while surfing online when I couldn’t sleep–you know, the kind of online session where you invariably end up places with user comments like: “I think I landed on the weird part of the internet”. I couldn’t find the original video to post here. I recall it pretty well, though. The clip was presented with no explanation other than some title like “Nature’s Mistakes: Cryptozoology“* and just had a series of black and white photos of Yamada’s hair-raising art slowly fading in and out, including a couple where he poses on the beach with them as if he has discovered them, wearing a white lab coat (scroll to the very bottom of this post to see one I distinctly remember seeing and thinking something tells me in I’m for some real bad dreams tonight), set to creepy music. One of the user comments said to Google Takeshi Yamada. I did, and my first emotion was a wave of relief that these were photos of very realistically created works of art by a”rogue taxidermist” who specialized in carefully designing and crafting animals that didn’t actually exist. Nature’s Curiosities. A few on the You Tube video just looked a little too realistic (the obvious lack of Photoshop manipulation was unsettling). Then I found the article below and read for at least an hour. I looked him up again to read more later, when it was light out and my sleep cycle wasn’t troubled by nervous insomnia. Check it out below and prepare to be dazzled.
If you’d like to see him in action, talking about his work process and his art, and showing the viewer around his studio, I highly recommend you watch the below video (“Who is Takeshi Yamada?”) that AMC put together as an online extra for “The Immortalizer”:
The concept of the competition is that there’s four Immortalizers**, and each week some rogue taxidermist the showrunners picked comes on to challenge; they go in totally blind and they don’t even know the theme they’ll be given. The themes are pretty broad and always make a tiny part of me a little nervous as to what will be the final reveal of the art, such as “Your Worst Nightmare,” which another Immortalizer was picked for. That was kind of a relief, as even Yamada’s one depiction so far, for the theme “The Odyssey” featured a canine beast with something like nine heads, being circled by his ‘dragon-bats’, all with very sharp teeth–among other features– and if I owned it, I’d put it as far as possible from the bedroom or anywhere else I planned to sleep. See the ‘reveal’ in the below video (and note the sense of showmanship the artist has):
The challengers also don’t know which Immortalizer they’re going to be matched up to compete with–there’s a big build-up to the announcement and then the chosen Immortalizer makes their grand entrance. If I were in the guest challenger’s shoes (when the challengers are introduced, they always describe themselves as ‘edgy’ and ‘wild’ in varying degrees) when the reveal came for who they are up against, and Takeshi Yamada came strolling out smiling in his vintage top hat and tux, with his ubiquitous pet ‘Sea Rabbit’ tucked under his arm, I’d immediately want to throw up my hands and say, “Fuck it! I give up, never mind! You win, I don’t know what I was thinking.” Fortunately the challengers don’t do that, though, so you get to see Yamada really go to town:
OK, maybe there are less than nine heads, but looking at this piece? That sure as hell doesn’t matter.
If you want to see more but are in a hurry, I put together a small gallery of a few photos that I DO NOT CLAIM TO OWN THE COPYRIGHT TO (Mr. Yamada does in most cases) below; click to enlarge.
I sure as hell don’t claim to know everything, but I’m positive Takeshi Yamada is incapable of making a boring work of art. Even if he tried.
*I remember Googling the word ‘Cryptozoology‘ before I Googled ‘Takeshi Yamada’, and the definition of Cryptozoology and cryptids didn’t calm me down any at the time.
**Beth Beverly, Dave Houser, Page Nethercutt, and Takeshi Yamada are the four champion Immortalizers. If you’re a Brian Posein fan, he’s one of the three judges and says something hilarious (that usually has to have a word bleeped) at least once a show. I looked up the schedule on the official site and Yamada will next be featured in an episode with “Heaven and Hell” as the theme.
This is one of the first photos I saw that freaked me the hell out on You Tube several years ago.