I've been reading a lot of the "tell me about the business" posts in the archives. I've been interested in the comments made about the lack of discretionary time for full time taxidermists - "not enough time to hunt and fish, backlogs, etc..." I was wondering if there are taxidermists out there who are able to keep their volume low with high quality work. For example, is it possible to do museum quality mounts and to sell them upon completion. I see taxidermists selling on ebay all the time and am wondering if that's what they're doing. If this is possible, then it seems that you wouldn't be strapped to your shop at all times taking in customer work. Instead, you'd be working like an artist -creating then selling. Does anybody approach the business like this either part time or full time?
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Check out what price these folks are getting when they sell these items. Unless the specimen is a World Class animal which scores high in the book, then the sell price will typically be less than what the average guy charges to mount that same item. For those World Class items that bring in big bucks, a taxidermist has to pay BIG bucks to buy the antlers/horns to begin with. The big dollars are for the animal not the taxidermy.
I have listed taxidermy items on ebay and have never gotten what I waould charge a customer if he brought it in. (Try about half my shop price, actually.) I think this is because folks are willing to pay a little more for a mount of their own animal, but an animal that doesn't have significant personal value isn't or doesn't seem to be worth it to them to pay as much.
Taxidermy is not considered a fine art and worth the really big bucks in the art world because it is perishable. n Also, matter how good the mount is, it is still Joe Blows buck or a bird etc. and not Joe Taxidermists art piece in the art community or to the gen. puplic. Scream all you want those are the facts. When was the last time for instance you saw a nice mount in the pages of a hunting magazine that listed the taxidermist/artist?
if your in it for the living as in that is your source of income to "survive" then most taxidermists i know are "strapped" to thier shop...as in my case its a hobby that i enjoy and the money is just a benefit and is nothing more than an augmentation of my "living income" and i believe that it would not be as enjoyable to me if it became a 14-16 hour a day 6-7 days a week experience.....now of course there are individuals out there (whom i respect) that do live and work those hours and days and they enjoy it but... they dont have the time and opportunity to spend in the tree stand or chasing longbeards or harvesting waterfowl that i do and that is what i enjoy the most....bottom line you have to know what you want out of it and prioritize
Museums are notoriously low end as far as specimen and seldom buy "outside" the museum. They have their own ideas as to what they want and settle for nothing less. Many have their own staff taxidermists as well. Those that don't, still seldom pay what the work is worth. I still manage to fish when I care to and hunt when I want to, but only because I enjoy a retirement check from previous employment that pays the mortgage and other necessities. My work is fair by my standards and I charge prices toward the premium end, but I set limits as to how many specimen I take and I explain up front that when it's done, I'll call them and they don't have to call me. Those that accept it, fine. Those that don't are welcome to shop. We've ALL suffered burn out at one time or another and right now, I'm too old to want to suffer through it again.
You may want to research your state game laws also. In some states, not all the DNR may not look friendly on someone producing mounts for resale. It sounds like a small point, but a citation is certainly something that would ruin your day.
I have seen a lot of taxidermy junk on E-bay. I also have seen some mounts that could win a World Championship. I have seen single bird mounts go for $900 and single fox mounts on driftwood go for $1400
These are not normal retail prices. The crappy mounts on E-bay go for peanuts. The true artists are rewarded, while the others are not. The public seems to know the difference. I would have to answer "Yes" to J Harshbarger's question about low volume. It is possible to have low volume and get a premium price for your work. "Short people also complain about being bad at basketball" is my answer to the other posts. Choose to work smart, rather than to work hard.
In a nutshell...If your work is great, people will pay you what you what it is worth. :)
"Seenthelight" You are also right, but so am I. J,of course you can do anything you set your mind to, some tasks are just harder than others.
It takes some time to develop a pace that can be kept in a studio. I still havent found that "just right" amount in my studio. That would be a figure that keeps me very busy but not much over a year, and time away. I sure dont know how some guys find the time to do those ebay mounts, though. I understand many guys mount stuff just for resale, and enjoy doing so. I always thought that these mounts were just things customers didnt pick up. Speaking of which, I have a nice mount done on a McKenzie wall pedestal, with the hair done with a wet look, thats for sale. Customer doesnt seem to want it, so off go his antlers, in goes someone elses. If anyones interested, get in touch with me here...