Becoming Alaskan through fish and Art

Moving here in 1983 after finishing art school, Ray Troll became completely immersed in the Alaska fish culture. The fish, and ultimately the salmon, infiltrated Troll’s art as he was surrounded by them in his new Alaskan home. He’s been producing fish inspired art ever since.

“My sister Kate brought me up here and had a job for me right out of art school. She was running a little retail store selling fish so I came up to sell fish,” Troll said. “Being a fishmonger, but really an artist, I just started looking at fish after landing in the middle of this fish culture on the coast. Being Alaskan, you’re just kind of around fish a lot. So, it just kind of began taking over my artwork. It’s not the only thing I do, but it’s kind of the bread and butter of what I do, so yeah, it all leads back to the fish.”

Living in Alaska, especially in it’s coastal regions, fish are a large part of society, Whether that be political, how you make a living, fishing for fun, or even expressing it’s existence through art forms. The salmon is all around.

“There’s the commercial side of it, people making a living with it. The sport side of it, people having fun with it. The science side of it, people doing the science on it. The management side of it, the fish and game, the politics of it. The art of it, the culture of it. You name it, there’s all these sides to it. Forgive the pun, but I sort of swam through all those topics,” Troll said.

One project that stands out to Troll in his work so far is Ketchikan’s salmon bus. Troll, in collaboration with Memo Jauergui, hand-painted the city bus in Ketchikan.

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In collaboration with Memo Jauergui, Troll hand-painted this bus in Ketchican. Known as the salmon bus, it was completed in nine days in 2009. Photo credit: Ray Troll

Another important project that Troll collaborated with Jauergui in doing is stage art at the annual Salmonfest in Ninilchick, AK.

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"Electro tiger humpy" painted on the mainstage of Salmonstock. Photo credit: Ray Troll

Troll, along with his wife, own a gallery in their hometown of Ketchikan, AK. Along with T-shirts and original art by Troll, the couple also sells art, ceramics, and curiosities curated from all local artists. The Soho Coho gallery has been open for nearly 25 years. Find more of Ray Troll’s work by visiting his website,

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Humorous salmon art by Ray Troll. Photo credit: Ray Troll

Written by Victoria Petersen

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