Sunday morning questions (SMQ's) part 31
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Taxidermy.Net Forum  |  Taxidermy Discussion Categories  |  Fish Taxidermy  |  Topic: Sunday morning questions (SMQ's) part 31 « previous next »
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Author Topic: Sunday morning questions (SMQ's) part 31  (Read 6749 times)
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« Reply #15 on: September 25, 2006, 07:38:23 PM »

 In response to #4, I also might add that I do this part time. With the amount of overtime at my factory job, 50 fish keeps me plenty busy and then some!!!
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Location: Tacoma, WA
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« Reply #16 on: October 02, 2006, 04:59:32 PM »

Wow, looks like my backlog of work has translated into a backlog of the SMQs!   :-[  Rick, I promise to get to this last Sunday's before next Sunday's! :o

1.  For quite some time I have felt that airbrushing alone was an incomplete way to paint fish.  There are color features on fish that are difficult to replicate without using masking techniques, and I have never felt comfortable messing with that sort of thing.  I dabbled with hand painting some features in addition to scales using regular airbrush taxidermy paints and usually ended up thinking that I was just spinning my wheels.  Well several years ago I met a fellow who was an accomplished flat artist who wanted to try to paint a replica or two.  Now, keep in mind that this guy has more talent in one of his fingers than I have in three or four clones of my entire self.  Suffice it to say, I was impressed with what he could do with a fish replica.  That opened up a new realm for me, and I have found that I am getting a little more comfortable with hand painting all the time, even though it still doesnt amount to much in the grand scheme of talent.  By hand painting I can create hard lines, subtle shading, subtle washes, and features I havent figured out yet but Im working on.  I believe my paint jobs are better today than several years ago, and I can attribute that to hand painting.

2.  When I look at reference Id say that I am looking at a number of things for two different purposes.  The first purpose is simply the effort of trying to match a clients fish that Im working on, and that will entail both the anatomical features of it that I might have some control over such as the amount of kype on a spawning fish for a repro, and of course the actual color hues of the fish and how it will need to be painted.  The second purpose of looking at reference is to study what I think I know and to discover what I dont know.  That would include anatomy as well as color.  I try to second-guess myself on purpose to find out if what I am looking at is really what I am seeing, and to test myself on what I think I know and what really may be the truth.  Its purely educational, and the day I no longer have that interest will be the day I need to get a new job.

3.  I dont do big contracts; its just not my thing.  Usually in doing so I think I would need to cut corners and quality to be able to do the volume that a big contract would entail.  I dont work that way, so I run rather than walk away from a big contract.  My ideal contract is with a single client that wants their fish done as something special, which it is.  I havent really had to negotiate one of those basic client work order agreements, because the price is usually what it is and if they dont like either the price or the backlog I am happy to recommend them to the next guy.  I suppose if I were to really want a certain project of work to do, Id probably come in a little high both on the return time and price so that I could wiggle a little down if they balked and I really wanted to do the project.  Come to think of it, that may have happened in the past, but I cant remember any particulars.   ;)

4.  The numbers of fish that I take in and finish in any given year has changed over the last 19 years that I have been full time (fish only).  It of course can also fluctuate depending upon the particular strength of the run in the Steelhead or Salmon season.  During the tail end of the heyday of fishermen keeping Steelhead for skin mounts (which was about when I went full time) I have seen quite a drop in numbers of fish.  But, I have had a real long backlog for as long as I can remember that I have been unsuccessful in shaking for a variety of reasons, so the drop in fish numbers hasnt really affected my business.  To answer the question in some manner, I finish a relatively low number per month depending upon the size, whether they are wall or pedestal, and the lack of or degree of habitat work per fish.  Each of those projects average quite a bit more in regards to time and cost than the typical industry-wide fish mount, however.

5.  I dont really use a molding process that is considered typical, so I cant really answer this question.  If I would use that method, the painting would be the lengthiest part of the process.

6.   My opinion of a great fish taxidermist is one that can take a fish they have never seen, start from scratch with basic raw materials, do the required research on the species, and then create a fish mount that is of competition quality.  If you can do that, you have arrived.  Whatever money you can make doing it is a reflection of how good of a business person you are rather than how good of a fish taxidermist you are.

7.  I havent competed or seen a score sheet in at least ten years, but if taxidermy competitions are still the way they used to be, it is all about the fish.  A great composition should be able to give a competitor some bonus points to raise their score some, but theoretically the fish that is most accurate should be able to score higher even against the lesser fish with its added bonus points, IF taxidermy competitions are still taxidermy competitions and not art shows.  In my opinion that scenario is as it should be, but I could see certain situations that may be argued to work out the other way.  And I may even agree with the judgment in some of those certain situations if the accuracy of the two fish is reasonably close.  The point I certainly dont want to get lost, however, is that I do still think that there is tremendous value in artistic composition for helping the entire industry to be considered more mainstream in the wildlife art world.

8.  I wouldnt say the actual vehicle that the pigment rides in is a unique thing, but rather a type of color reflector itself, iridescence, is what I think is unique in fish taxidermy painting.  Iridescents are definitely unique because while colors are colors, I dont believe the masters in art from centuries ago didnt have colors such as iridescents for their use.  Also, flat artists today cant really use them because the iridescents dont translate appropriately in prints, so flat artists have to create the illusion of iridescence through contrasting colors.  Since fish taxidermists deal with a three dimensional painting surface that is not going to be duplicated as flat art prints are, we can appropriately use them to capture natural effects.  I use iridescent colors for both airbrushing and hand painting, and it allows me to create color effects that will change with the viewing angle, much like a real fish.

9. A fair price in my area is figured the same way as a fair price in any area, because I believe a fair price is arrived at by multiplying the amount of hours in a project by a standard hourly shop rate.  (The local shop rate could vary among different areas, I suppose.)  My work is certainly worth the dollar amount of time that I have in it.  As far as what I could wish to charge, I hope that my clients or prospective clients will be able to accept the future prices that the added detail I wish to include in my work will demand.  I really dont need to state figures because that is between my client and myself, and if I would it would most likely cause needless controversy.  ::)

10. The game is over and I'm sure someone has already won...
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