After 20 years as a full time Taxidermist I sold my shop out due to severe back problems. When I Landed an 11 lb 2 oz walleye I was left wondering what to do about a mount of it. I ended up sending it to Rich Benedict of Angling Artisans Unlimited in NY and of course it was lost en route. In a state of decay he still managed to cast it in the true life like form, the glass work was incredible and the finish/paint work unsurpassed. I have won my share of ribbons in competition but have to admit he does the finest work I've ever seen. Turn around time was very fast as well. I can't imagine any reason for skin mounts any more.
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It doesn't matter if replicas are the gasoline engine replacing the horse-drawn carriage. What matters is that most CUSTOMER'S still want THEIR fish back. And unless you cast THEIR fish, they ain't getting a copy of THEIR FISH back with replicas.
I don't mind doing replicas, but quite frankly if it comes to the point where everything is replicas (which I don't believe will EVER happen) and we fish guys turn into "mail order taxidermy" is when it's time for me to bow out...
I will take all of the educated fisherman that appreciate high quality and realism and you can have all of the Bubbas that want their "piece of skin slapped on the wall".
You say "mail order taxidermy" like that is a bad thing! You can reach a larger market and not just depend on your local economy to support you. Now doesn't that make good business sense? Why must you always condemn instead of embracing something that might take you out of your comfort zone?
Thanks so much Forest for the kind words.
God Bless you my friend.
When my clients come to my showroom. I give them a look at repro's and skin mounts. The last skin mount i did was 8 years ago! I have yet had a customer demand skin or nothing...When you explain the advantages of reproding thier fish, they are all for it!
I've done fish for the last 30 years and if a reproduction is done PROPERLY a skin mount won't come close in comparison. I know some will argue this point but after thousands of reproductions i feel like an acuurate cast and paint job is the way to go. I cast my customers fish for them. I can make a mold of thier fish quicker and less expensive than ordering one. Usually the guys that say repro's arent as good can't do an accurate representation of a fish thru a casting. I'm with Rich B all the way on this one...
seems your attitude on repo fish is the same as your attitude on cameras. get your head out of the sand
I'm just a part time guy...but if I had to rely on only local clients, I would not do nearly the same volume. Currently, I am averaging approx. 50-60 Reproduction fish a year, along with my full time job.
Tapping into a larger market, and shipping is fine by me.
Cecil and others spoke of a decline in business. I see Rich selling absolutely beautiful work on ebay for PENNIES compared to what I must pay for just the blank alone. (I'm talking of replicas here) Why, as a possible customer would I try to have my fish mounted when I could just call Rich and get a replica with a billion hand tipped scales and all, for so cheap? If I was a savy shopper/lucky fisherman, I would contact Rich B. through ebay and ask if He would make a replica for the same (average) price He's been selling all the others at...which is very cheap. Cheaper than I could purchase a blank for and put in the time. Same old same old...NO STANDARD IN THIS BUSINES! Not on prices and not on quality.
First off, I make my own molds and casts.
I can make them alot cheaper than you can buy a commercial blank.
They still do require an investment, so I take select molds and make them "earn their keep" so to speak. If the molds are just sitting in my barn...say a 16" Rainbow Trout, how long would that mold sit and collect dust before I had somebody order one? I make relations with people on Ebay and many of them want certain size/species of fish that I don't own molds for. They happily pay my regular shop rate for custom work. My Ebay auctions invoke interest in people that would not normally commission a piece to be done.
Marc, I look at my Ebay fish as "samples". The auction winner knows that he is getting a bargain! He is excited about the fish when he receives it and remembers a bunch of fish that he caught in his past that he wished he had mounted...now that he is retired and has a bit more money to play with, he orders a few from me at my regular shop rate of $15 per inch(soon to be increasing)...he tells his buddies and they want some too.
By making connections with people on ebay, I have work(done at full price) hanging in the Hardy Flyfishing Museum in Scotland. Also I have made many friends all over the world now and have invites to fish in highly respected places. Also I am working with numerous charter captains and guides throughout the country. I am from a rural/economically depressed area of NY...I mean could I have achieved something like this without "pimping myself out on ebay"? Who knows.
I also look at it as maybe a "sacrifice" for the Industry. You know, showing the average Joe what a "Taxidermist" is capable of achieving as far as detail goes. Many of them have no idea that work like mine is available because of all the poor quality stuff that guys (looking to quickly make a profit) have strewn all over the place.
The more ebay fish that I scale tip just makes me that much more proficcient at it for when I am earning my shop rate.
I know that I don't really need to defend myself here but it is a reflex. My ultimate goal was to be able to work from home doing something that I love...not to "get rich quick". Money and Success are not synonymous to me.
I'm not calling you out for how you conduct business. It's the american way to be better and cheaper than the next guy. I was trying to illustrate that selling great work on ebay for so cheap does NOTHING for this industry as a whole. People see your artwork going so cheaply that they think everyone else is charging too much. It only makes sense they would think this way. But heay... do what you gotta do. Don't we all? I too have work in museums and I have been aproached to mount fish for wildlife art studios that sell many types of work. That doesn't mean I would do it at a reduced rate.If you truly cared about the taxidermy industry as a whole and how the lay person/prospective client perceives it, you might choose to have a reserve on your nice work. Good luck with your business and more power to you. Marc
I'm not telling you what to do, but I agree with Mark. Rich B., you're under pricing hurts the taxidermy industry. You deserve and should receive more for your work.
is $15 per inch for a replica that underpriced?
As I've said over and over... the ebay fish are like something to pull in customers. It's not like I am offering custom work for the prices that the ebay auctions sell for! Also I don't do skin mounts so why are all you guys worrying and thinking that I am taking all your work? I am keeping busy, but people are not stampeding to my door either. Sorry to create so much contoversy here people.
I'm in the process of maybe having Rich do a brown trout repro. for me. Quit ragging on the guy so he doesn't raise his prices before I seal the deal with him!
Rich I certainly am not worried your taking all the work. Actually I personally sent work your way hoping to thin out my own workload and unload a very picky customer anyway he has returned to me with even more work. So much for referals. The question you ask can only be answered by you. I would say if your not making an hourly wage of at least $16 that is after you deduct a profit and your overhead and materials then the answer is "no". Please don't appologize for anything -your business is just that your business. Mark and I only offered some advise and I am sure we aren't the only ones. You can take it or leave it.
...Rich's approach seems reasonable to me and it sounds like it's working for him. We each pursue- some successfully, some unsuccessfully- different routes in trying to make our businesses succeed. It sounds to me like Rich has a very successful business, both financially and with regards to his personal state of mind/well being- he is putting food on the table AND he is able to sleep well at night. While his approach (eBay as an enticer) might not work for some, it sounds like it does work for him- and that's really all that matters.
I agree with Rich! It is his business let him run it!
What is it to ANYONE what Rich charges?
Flat and simple it's noones business end of story.
how so many people never seem to be able to see the whole picture.
socialist politicians in NY when it comes to gun laws, Marc. They will never see the whole picture and eventually, as with any virus, it will spread until it affects all Americans.
It's a free country and although I can see both points of this debate, it still boils down to personal choice and personal business ethics in a free country. Besides, how does a fish taxidermist compare himself to someone who does only fish repros? I think Rich B. has become a Fish Reproduction Specialist and has given up the taxidermist title. Taxidermy does deal with adjusting skin, does it not?
Rich B., Don't you state in your ebay auctions that these prices don't reflect your standard fees and the winner of the auction will get a real deal? Seems I remember reading that somewhere.