About a month ago I walked into a store and saw a mount of a Bobcat and a Fox squirrel. The bobcat had a black nose, the eyes were loppsided and set improperly. The squirrel had the skin wrapped around the midsection and stapled in place. The mounts had a sign that said "C--- Taxidermy". I passed this off as "the early years" work. The other day I went into a differnt store and low and behold there are two Whitetail deer shoulder mounts and a bobcat by the same taxidermist. The bobcat had a black nose and bad eyes. On both deer the eyes all the way to the tearduct and the nostral interior were painted black. The panels that were used were "homemade"(not to well).
I don't know about anybody else but this kind of taxidermy makes me angry. The worst part is this guy has been doing taxidermy longer than I have. He claims to have twenty years of experinece. There is no excuse for a taxidermist to consistantly make these kinds of errors. With all of the "tools" that we have today there should never be any "Blackeyed Deer" on anybodys wall. This kind of work makes me wish that the taxidermy police would come an arrect this guy.
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If taxidermy is a art form then this type of work is this taxidermists art and some people may be very happy with the difference. I know a person that recieved this type of mount from one of my competitors and took it to court because of his "ruined" trophy, the judge told him just what I just said and that art is subjective, if the client didn't like that type of work he should of taken it elsewhere in the first place. If a live bobcat or whatever critter is the only standard for judging taxidermy then taxidermy is not a artform. The other news is that when competitors do this type of work think how much more yours is worth? If his is 10+ times worse than yours you should be charging at least 10+ times more and getting it! Are you? I doubt it because if you or I do then we then worry that we simply can not because he that does such bad work does his work at only x price. " They would get it all" Its the blind leading the blind in this industry for the most part anyway Im afraid. Let the consumer decide. Those taxidermists have a nitch that will always have clients and so will us "legends in our own minds."
see if you can display your work at the same places. people that are unaware of good vs. bad will only see the differance if they can compare them side by side. most won't know why yours looks better just that it is. how many people know what a tear duct looks like or that a nose isn't black inside not many but they will know that one mount looks better than another but they won't know why. if this guy has been doing taxidermy for 20 yrs then hes still doing it the same way, would you go to a doctor that still uses the same procedure of 20 yrs ago.
This is one reason why I do not mind other people hanging their work next to mine. If they want to make me look even better then they can be my guest. I will put my work next to anybodies. And YES there are taxidermists out there that will blow me away, But I will put up a good mount anyway! I do not claim to be the best but I do know that I am good at what I do and confident about my work.
Fact is, 99.9% of hunters do not know what a deer looks like at less than 50 yards. Bowhunters are typically better at seeing through shoddy work, but we're all trained to look at the shoulder rather than the head so we can focus for our shot. So,... hang one of your pieces right next to this guy's "best stuff" and let hunters see them from ten aisles away. If they've been paying attention at all in the woods, they'll see the difference. On a related note, it's interesting that that judge decided in favor of the taxidermist's "art" and expression of how he saw the deer to look. Makes you wonder if a guy can name his shop "Joe's Whitetail Artistry" rather than "Joe's Taxidermy" and use subjective perception of the subject to defend his own vocational mediocrity.
I understand and agree with everything that has been said with the exception of Jim's comment "If a live bobcat or whatever critter is the only standard for judging taxidermy then taxidermy is not a artform." On this I have to disagree to some extent. As a taxidermist my purpose is to ACCURETLEY recreate the speciman as it would have been in real life. Now there is a lot to be said about artisitc merit and Taxidermy as an art form. But if I took a piece to the world show that had fantastic artisic merit but a black nose(bobcat), I think that I would score poorly.
You are right, however, most customers don't know if the deer is supposed to have black around his eyes. When a customer walks into the shop and starts looking at the mounts that are ready for pick-up what does he usually say? Nice rack! I have never heard a costomer yet say "I see that the Earbuts are properlly positioned and Oh! you installed a nictating membrane". How do I counteract this, I explain to my customers what is anotomicaly correct and I take the time to show them on their own mount. Now that customer is going to leave my shop feeling good about the work I did knowing that it was done properlly and will most likely show his friends what good taxidermy looks like.
That does not change the fact that I still hate to see bad taxidermy displayed like it is good work.
Jim said it the very best I've ever heard it said. His statement is PARTICULARLY CORRECT. "If a live bobcat is the only standard for judging taxidermy, then taxidermys is not an artform". BINGO. All we do is recreat, copy, or mimmic. Artist interpret and CREATE. I've been saying for years that the only true artists in this business are the mannikin molders who take clay and sculpt a gazillion different poses of deer in CLAY. I just never waxed so eloquently as Jim just did. And you guys still don't get it.
Is realism not art, then?
Realism IS realism. You can't have your cape and Edith too.