Fish taxidermist needs advice

Submitted by Scott on 4/21/05 at 2:56 PM. ( SEPuckett@webtv.net ) 209.240.205.62

I've been working full time for a local taxidermist for over two years.I've worked extremely hard to improve the detail quality along with just the basic mounting job,like carving most trout/salmon mannikens along with others when needed.The paint is probably the area that has come the farthest through custom schedule and various techniques such as combining airbrushing,finger paints,brushes and just using different paint viscosities,air pressures and angles for certain needed effects.He absolutely loves the work and wanted me to continue experimenting with whatever I need to do.The problem is as the quality has increased the my bank account has decreased We've had some rather intense discussions over the past months about the extra time involved in more detail and finish work.I've explained that I've probably spent as much of my own time going through Breakthroughs an Taxidermy Today along with scanning every archive this site has to offer looking for better methods and tips to help our quality.My reward for the improved quality of work and efforts has been an "atta boy".I'm making a certain percentage on each fish I complete which might work if I was happy doing sub-standard production line work. That I feel would not be right to me or fair to the customer.At this point I feel IF I can't do taxidermy that I'M proud of I'd rather not do it at all.I finally made the decision to leave my current employer to work full time at a wholesale/retail livebait and tackle service which means delivering to bait and tackle shops and resorts within a 100 mile or so radius of my vacation/fishing area.I'm also planning on renting a small retail shop where for now I plan to run (on a part time basis) a fish taxidermy and reproductin business while trying to build a steady customer base.I plan on charging a good price for my work and hope there are enough customers that are willing to pay for quality to some day turn it into a fulltime business. I told my plans to the owner of the shop I'm currently at because I believe that was the right thing to do.It did not go over well to say the least.My question to you good people with experience is what would be the best way to utilize my situation as far as dealing with the bait shops and resorts in terms of advertising and staring a trickle of business on a somewhat limited budget.Where would the money be best spent?Thanks so much for listening to my ramblings. Scott


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sounds familar from 35 years ago.

This response submitted by jim on 4/21/05 at 7:19 PM. ( ) 63.227.252.186

Only with game heads in my my case. My advise: you got to do what you have to do and remember you only live once. Maybe your current employer will think about it and offer you more money, if not, Good luck.


Try this...

This response submitted by Luke on 4/21/05 at 7:24 PM. ( ) 165.121.60.136

Find the best( most frequented by fishermen) sporting goods store, or resort in your area, and present them with a pedestal mount fish(whatever they catch there)and ask if you can leave it on display with your card.
Do the best job you can on it, and when the calls come in, dont shortchange yourself on the price.
If your taxidermist boss sees it - maybe he will realize you are ready for a raise.
It starts out slow for a few years, but your business will get better, and better, as long as your work does too.
Good luck Scott, and keep the faith in yourself.


What percentage commission do you make working for someone

This response submitted by Craig on 4/21/05 at 11:03 PM. ( ) 66.66.226.122

else? What do they charge per inch? Just curious. Seems to reason if you are spending more time on your mounts to perfect the end result you should be paid more, but the owner must charge accordingly to be able to do this. Maybe you should talk to your employer and offer to do only the specialized jobs like two sided pedistal mounts and/or have him offer clients an upgraded mount at a higher price, for the ones that are discriminating, with the work performed by you.

You are doing what every good taxidermist eventually does. That's the reason some full time taxidermists don't like to hire help. They know someday it could come back to bite them with their helpers leaving and opening shops in the same general area. But if you are unhappy and cannot come to terms with your employer or your own concience then you need to seek alternative means.


Ben there, done that....

This response submitted by matt on 4/22/05 at 1:22 PM. ( asd@alaska.net ) 209.112.222.224

Thats how I got started. Yea, your a threat to him, but he will survive his insecurities, and you will to. Haveing that job will help you a lot with contacts, ect. my only advice is, dont undercut his prices trying to get work. That is just a loose-loose situation, and you will strugle for a long time, and give your former boss a real reason to not like you. People will recognize your work, and seek you out. Just get some mounts in those bait stores. Good luck


Fish taxidermist needs advice

This response submitted by Scott on 4/22/05 at 1:35 PM. ( SEPuckett@webtv.net ) 209.240.205.63

We do pricing a bit differently but it averages $12-$12.50 per inch which for Hayward, Wi is probably upper end. I'm the only fish guy in the shop and take care of things from start to finish.We have also added a couple new services to our customers including reproductions which he didn't do and pedestal mounts which he didn't do because he can't carve forms.I get 30% per fish after deducting cost of materials and shop expenses.We moved into a very large older building about 18mos. ago so i'm sure operational costs aren't cheap.He always finds a way to purchase bigger and better shop equiptment(some of which we actually need)and to take his 3 vacations in the last year and a half.I realize he is the owner and can do as he wishes.I just don't agree with his priorities.During one of our our many talks in which I was told to be patient he was even considerate enough to tell me that some people don't mind working for less if they enjoy what they do.I absolutely love fish taxidermy and know that one way or the other I will always do it.Just not for someone like this.It may take a few unexpected twists and turns but somehow it'll all work out.Thanks again Scott


It's difficult enough to find good help these days...

This response submitted by Craig on 4/22/05 at 5:46 PM. ( ) 66.66.226.179

too bad once an employer finds one they can't treat them with dignity. Sounds like you are doing the right thing, Scott. Get some mounts out in the bait shops and fishing/sporting stores and hold on to your hat. I think I would mention that you were formerly employed by this other taxidermist and did all his fish work between your dates of employment. That should get some credentials cast out to the public. There isn't that much overhead in doing just fish other than having good paints and a room with good lighting. Initial investment in large equipment will be your only concern. Don't ever get into discussions with customers about why you left employment with this guy as it could lead you down the wrong path.

As for him telling you some people will work for less as long as they are doing something they like...that's a crock of crap! I would have asked him how he feels when his yearly earnings don't increase. Everyone deserves to earn promotions based on performance, experience, ability, training, .


It's difficult enough to find good help these days...

This response submitted by Craig on 4/22/05 at 6:00 PM. ( ) 66.66.226.179

too bad once an employer finds one they can't treat them with dignity. Sounds like you are doing the right thing, Scott. Get some mounts out in the bait shops and fishing/sporting stores and hold on to your hat. I think I would mention that you were formerly employed by this other taxidermist and did all his fish work between your dates of employment. That should get some credentials cast out to the public. Don't ever get into discussions with customers about why you left employment with this guy as it could lead you down the wrong path. Join your state association, if you don't already belong, and do some competing at that level. When you win ask your local papers if they would run an article about your experiences and new found credentials. These can be cut out and posted by your displays.

As for him telling you some people will work for less as long as they are doing something they like...that's a crock of crap! I would have asked him how he feels when his yearly earnings don't increase. Everyone deserves to earn promotions based on performance, experience, ability, training, responsibility, etc. Unfortunately, some people think when you ask for a raise all they feel is the need to lend you a ladder. If you were making this guy money he should have reciprocated as a gesture of good faith especially if he was impressed with what you were doing for his business and reputation. He left you with no other alternative but to go it on your own. After all, if you really love doing what you do the loss of income shouldn't matter that much to you, right?


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