I have talked to some other taxidermist and the people who have been in the business over 15 years say they are in the same condition. The only people I see saying business is improving are the new guys. This I feel is because they have not been in business long enough. One guy closed his shop. Others have said they are going back to their old jobs and do taxidermy part time. Taxidermy is reaching its peak. Everyone is teaching this trade now and a lot are cutting prices. Fifteen years ago. I had 4 people working helping me now just me and not even enough for me. Also these people still do taxidermy only part time. Everyone is taking a piece of the pie. We are teaching the person off the street to put the full timer back to part time. Sad but true. You people that are busy now enjoy it will not last. Because it is going to get worst unless things change. Taxidermy will turn into a craft for most people. And will be a part time business for most. Just look around you new guys everyday and more will come until everyone is part time. Randy D.
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Randy, I have read your posts about how bad things are getting for you. I am truly sorry for you. Business around here is picking up. I think its really more about location rather than just too many people getting into taxidermy. I live in the Raleigh, NC area. We have many taxidermists within a 75 mile radius. Everyone I talk to is getting busier. The reason is that area is one of the fastest growing in the nation. People that are moving here have lots of money because we have lots of high-tech jobs. Its only natural that the taxidermy trade in this area will pick up. As for your situation, I think you need to look at some other options. Even if you can't get enough work from your local area, find work elsewhere. Do wholesale work or talk to guides from across the country and get them to send you business. This is the 21st century. The world is different than it was in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s. The internet might be a good option. Expand your horizons and hopefully your situation will improve.
I've watched your lamentations on here for a couple years now and you've used up the gamut of excuses. I've been doing taxidermy over forty-six years and I certainly don't understand why any reputable taxidermist is at a loss for work. Certainly none that I know of. When I hear the comments you've made, I can only assume that you've done one of several things:
(1) Your "bedside" manner sucks and people don't have to beat a path to your door when they can find someone else who appreciates their business. You've continually slighted "part timers" for the reason your work has dropped off, but you need to worry about why someone would entrust their memories to a beginner when they have a professional so close by.
(2) You've specialized in only a single aspect of the industry and customers enjoy "one stop shopping". Why should they bring you their fish when you won't do their kid's first squirrel or deer? I've seen lots of taxidermists tell customers,"Sure, I can do your deer, but I don't mess with fish". So you just send him to the guy who DOES fish as well as deer and small game and you've just transferred your customer to another taxidermist.
(3) You've overpriced the worth of your work to the customer. Many customers aren't appreciative of the finite details some of you show guys can put in your work. This is intrinsic to them and by paying half of what you're charging, they can get a reasonable facsimile. That's NOT saying we all don't need to raise our prices, but if you have a dozen good taxidermists around you who are doing good commercial deer for $400 a head and you decide that $800 is a fair price for your work, I can tell you with a great degree of certainty that they're going to get most of the work. Just simple economics at play here.
For the last two years I've told customers that I have a two year backlog just to get them the hell away from me(I still manage to work on an actual 12+ month schedule)and they STILL come. I'm only a one man shop and right this second, I have 6 deer and 2 moose from last year, two N.A. wild sheep, 4 bears, 2 caribou, an elk, 6 fish, and a pheasant to do and deer season is starting THIS Friday. There are 4 other "part timers" within 5 miles of me and one full timer. Within 20 miles I have 3 full times and 8 part timers THAT I KNOW OF and they've complained to me about having too much work as well. And all this is in the very heart of PETA country. Now do you see something is wrong with the picture you're painting?
I had my busiest year last year after 16 years doing taxidermy part-time (in my case, part time means 6-8 hours per day in the studio after 10-12 at my "real" job). My prices are high, and the work keeps coming in. I only advertise one day a week in the newspaper and am starting a yellow page ad next month. I am anticipating hiring help if things keep up at the current pace. I have a couple of garage hacks locally and at least 7 full timers and countless part timers within 50 miles of my studio.
I have to agree with George about the way to treat clients...they have plenty of options to choose from. Even if your work is the best in your area, a crap attitude will drive them away in a heartbeat. I didn't find anything uplifting or positive in anything you wrote.
I don't come to this site too much anymore because I am just too busy, so I don't know the full depth of your situation, but it sounds to me like you need to start thinking outside the box and figure out ways of exploiting markets you aren't currently in. Flyers, web site, promo items, trade shows, etc., may boost your business. I am not a full timer nor will I be for 5 more years, but I will be ready when I make the move or I won't do it. Too many jump the gun and get into trouble for making a hasty decision. That's my two cents.
Its you Randy, not the industry. I know you have credentials. I know the old friends will stand by you and criticize me for saying so. How can you go off like you do, what the hell, you yourself has been teaching others too! George Dante in NJ cant keep up with his replica workload. Hes full time. Joe Boggs in Indy does hundreds of mounts a year. Bob Vitro does hundreds more, in NY state, and runs groups to Africa 3 or 4 times a year, plus does trophy room restoration. Theres plenty of work to do out there. Also, many so-called part-timers are just guys who are SMART enough to have full-time employment to support a family PLUS taxidermy...which ends up being a second full-time job.
Hell, look at me. Theres guys in my area that piss and moan what an idiot I am because my studio is by appointment most days, and by posted hours during the regular deer season. Theyre mad because I need structured business hours and rules here. Also, Im goofy looking, am working on a 18 month or more time frame (which I tell each customer beforehand) and Im more expensive in my area. My area also has about 45 taxidermist (that Im aware of) within an hour and a half of me. Yet Im still loaded enough to be that far backlogged. The work is there.
The key is how you look at things. I try to be very positive. Yes, Ill treat an unwanted client less than nice, some get the hint. They might walk away saying theyll never bring me work, and tell other sh*theads like themselves, but thats the beauty of that system. Theres so many folks out there willing to work with you. To those folks, Ill do anything. They keep me working and I let them know how much I appreciate them.
Different types of studios run with different rules...some shops, and their customers, work off these rules. Keep it moderately priced, under a year turn around time, and be available 24/7 so as not to miss anyone coming by. Others, like myself, try to operate a specialty studio. Our rules include charging enough more to do the extras the discriminating customer requests. He would like it sooner, of course, but at least wants honesty as to when it should be completed. Price is only relative to the quality received. Variations of this are there, and even location plays a part.
Randy, theres great doctors with no patients OR patience. Taxidermy cannot be forced to be something it isnt.
James, George and Bob,
You three have given excellent advice and everything the three of you have said should be considered by EVERYONE in the business.
For all of you "new" and seasoned taxidermist, There is a lot of common sense and wisdom in the above posts. Take the time to ask yourself, DO ANY of the statements or explanations above apply to me?
My problem is, sometimes I get fed-up with the Wal-Mart shoppers that are only concerned with: How much and how long? Will you give me a discount?
So, I gotta watch my attitude as at times, I can be a real Grouchy, S.O.B. if the circumstances need it. Oh, one more very important thing to consider: Ask yourself, What would I look for if I were shopping for a taxidermist? TIP::: Most people are only concerned with a commerical taxidermist,... and the high dollar custom people are for a select few only!-----I know.
Mr Kim------AKA Grouchy!
I have only been at it for about 4 years now. I have never advertised anywhere and my work has at least doubled every year. I guess i could be considered a garage hack by some because i am a part timer, but i do the best job i can on every mount that comes in. I entered 2 of my customers mounts in the Ohio show and got a first and a second in the professional division. With the help of Yox and several other good people on this forum i have learned alot. This year i changed my prices, i have one price for a commercial mount and another price for a comp quality mount. Differences being in materials used and fine detail. The last years i would spend extra time finishing the eyes and inside the ears only for a guy to come in, grab it by the one antler take it out and throw in the back seat of his car and never even look at it. Others want that fine detail, i had one guy give me a $100 tip last year because he liked his mount so well. He is by no means rich either, i know his situation and that $100 meant a hell of a lot to him. It meant more to me though because that was the ultimate compliment. I tried to not take it but he wouldn't hear of it. Do good work with a good atitude and the work will keep coming.
If work is getting that bad. Well, you were talking about making a video in the fishing forum, Where a guy wanted to know about molding a catfish. Start making videos and sell them.
Randy I think you may need to seek medical attention, and I am not being sarcastic. It sounds like you are in depression. you have made several posts about the bad state of taxidermy that just don't fly in my experience. I find that I get as much out of taxidermy as I put in. When I am down it is because I have not pulled my weight like I should. My business set up is very much like Bill Yox's(although I am not a celebrity LOL!). I have all the work I need at the moment. I try and keep my turnaround 6 months minimum. I rarely if EVER look at my competitions prices or business practices. They don't effect me in the least. If you are having problems it is either YOU or you need to change your location.
PS.For some reason many "award winners" and "world champions" think that this means they can charge unrealistic prices, treat people like idiots and demand HUGE turn around times. I have seen this stab many former "world champs' in the back. Also 1990's World Champ usually can't touch 2004's State Champ. People have just gotten THAT GOOD. If this applies you may want to do some introspection.
Hi fellas, wow, now that was a lesson I feel like I should have paid for! I occasionally get to read, and I have wondered why some are alwasy bashing, or trying to disgourage me, I do this on my kitchen table, ( Mommas not real happy) but my boys love to watch, learn bones, muscles, and if its the animal, or did his brother cut one again, heheh
We have a ball, my daughter has no part of it, but she loves to look at the art when im finished.
I graduated from the Northwest School Of Taxidermy in 1977, and loved it ever since, my children, by thier own choice, calls me a Wildlife Artist, and has actually has had school friends fathers call me!
Someday, id like to have my own shop, take in a limited number, (to cover the bills, maybe compete once or twice) and just love it for what it is, I dont care if someone wants to talk deer, come on in, I have nothing to hide, the folks that come to me, most say even if they could do what I do, they dont have the time.
Its time all wildlife artists join together, not just in associations, but a guild, a group of artists who do unique, fantastic work, and go for coffee with the surrounding taxi's, just for fellowship, shop talk, and to share the frustrations only we understand.
GOD Bless, and I hope things get better for you, but you will have to find that spark again, like a buck approaching your stand, or pursue something that will get you heart pounding.
Good luck to all this hunting season, and wear a tree harness, please.
Why does that sound like what we already do at our associations and guild meetings. I know the NTA sure does, with revelers staying up to all godawful hours of the night singing karaoke. Danny and Kim Owens were having a great time in Huntsville this past year when this guy joins in. THEN he drops the bomb that there should be more sensible laws concerning gun control. The whole place went silent and our sheepish interloper was informed that ALL of us were taxidermist who made our livings because of guns. He quietly left and the party continued.
I have tried and tried to get away from painting and after 15 years experience,I was offered a job this summer as foreman just until October.Well,I gross $800 a week,full benefits,and get off at 2:30 everyday.I can still enjoy doing taxidermy and so I am going to stay doing both.It is nice to be your own boss,own hours,etc. but when there are companies paying 50 cents on the dollar for retirement plans I can't say no.Other options,move! Move to where there is a prime location near fishing and hunting opportunities.I am a firm believer in a good product will sell itself.If you do great work,that will be a happy customer that will tell all his buddies.That is how you build business,word of mouth.Bad work,bad talk.Good work,good talk.
I'm in no position to judge your conditions, however at least two things that were said above are the absolute gospel:
1. Yox IS goofy looking!; and
2. You get out of it what you put into it.
I wonder if you've ever done a business plan? Have you analyzed the market conditions in your area? Nationwide? Do you KNOW who your customer is? Any WHY they would (or would not) choose you over someone else? It's not a guessing game; there are hard statistics out there that will tell you the truth...and probably teach you a bunch of things that you thought you knew.
I spent 60 hours of my life over the last two weeks putting together a business plan and it was the best excercise I could have done. What I THOUGHT I knew about my area, the market, etc., was wrong and I surely would have tanked within a year...however, by looking at the reality of things I was able to adjust my way of thinking and develop a business-minded strategy that may just work!
It's a lot of work, but by thinking like a businessman you'll be better suited to run your business.
I will be honest and right to the point.Do taxidermy part time and find a another job to support yourself.With tha snap together fish and stencils your in a tough spot.You have been saying this for over a year now and its not going to get better.Time to get busy and find money.When you have a job which supports you then you can sit back and think about your future in this trade.Under stress and no work your heading into depression.Kick your ass out the door and find a job first.
WHy if I work out my my Garage am I a hack? I may not be the best at all things but I do O.K. and try hard ..sometimes harder than I should. I work a full time job running an Archery SHop, choose to on occasion Hunt or hang out with the little ones and don't have time to build or buy a "Real Shop" I guess. I charge what the locals do and do some work for other overworked Taxidermists. It puts extra money in the Bank doing something I like to do while putting out a decent product at a price they could get at the local big guy....I guess that makes me a HACK..what a bunch of trash.
He was saying it facetiously. Coining a phrase. Echoing the sentiments of others...see? Some full timers look down their noses at part timers. More of us know better.
I know Randy D does good enough fish to be successful anywhere. I just believe that he has a negative view of things right now, and its effecting his biz and judgement. I went through hell recently, most of you have NO idea. But a few of you close to me know what Ive been up against. I blame nobody but myself for it, certainly not the industry.
Oh and Jim Tucker? If I am the celebrity you speak of, its by someone elses descriptive, not mine. When I pay all my bills right on time, and spend half the day OUT of my studio, then someone can admire me. Abe Walsh nailed me good though, eh? hahaha
I guess I am responsible for that term on this thread. My criteria for being a garage hack does not necessarily mean you work out of your garage. I did for many years. And, like PJ, skinned many critters on the kitchen table (with the kids at my side) and in my camper trailer.
No, Mike, a garage hack to me is the guy who does crap work, charges half of what a good mount should cost, then bad mouths those of use who charge appropriately and can't understand why he gets all the low-dollar clients. If that's you, then by my criteria you are a garage hack. If not, then retract the claws partner, and keep doing good work.
hahaha, I actually do taxidermy in my garage, not by choice at the moment. And to enlighten you fulltimers, I work a full time job which I don't like, I work in finance in an office full of 40 ugly women (no man should have to endure that!) That means that during each week, I am surrounded with 10 ladies on the rag.
So, perhaps you guys are the smart ones! I may have a steady income, but I have a boss, a set schedule, no time to go hunting etc. Perhaps someday when I learn more like fish and birds, I will try and go fulltime. In the meantime, think of me wearing my khakis, answering finance calls watching the clock for a lunch break, while you guys are wearing jeans, a hat and listening to the radio while eating a sandwhich and working on a deer. Did I mention i am not allowed to have food at my desk!
Did you ever stop to think that maybe they think that you aren't so hot? 10 of them each week? Poor baby. Listen to ME cry: The next egotistical SOB (man) that comes in my shop holding his hands 5 feet apart to indicate how big of a buck that he saw, is going to get sucker punched right in the nose.
Now, back to the issue at hand. Randy, I agree with everyone else on this post. I have been doing this for 20 years, am top quality in my area (as you are in yours), and am top price in my area. I am overwhelmed with work. I use several tactics to turn people away which include a guideline to "taxidermy shopping", referring potential customers to other quality taxidermists, and raising prices. In reality, these tactics don't turn customers away, it tends to make them say, "Well, I'll just have you do it." I think your problem is negativity. I remember you said you have constantly lowered your prices till you are $6.00 an inch. If I was a potential customer, that would be a red flag. Let's say that I have a '57 chevy that I want a paint job on. If there was someone who did it for $100 and someone who did it for $500, I would take the $500 every time. Hopefully you can fix it, but the damage may already be done.
I just get riled up when part timers get hammered.I wish I could go full time and feel with time I could. But I just retired from the military and my Wife is still in...meaning we move alot. Drumming up business when noone knows you is tough. You lose stuff moving..i.e. photo albums , mounts...those of you in the military know that story. You start from scratch alot. Right now 98% of my work is wholesale birds and small mammals. Locals here act as if I/m trying to put them out of business. That just kills me when other guys are at almost 2 year turn over...I'm just here to pick up the extras. As stupid as it sounds...I'd rather work 18 hours a daydoing what I love..than 7.5 hours a day for someone else...even if the money is less..I have the luxury of a military pension do help me financially..thank you all.... Bill and Bob you have set me straight and I stand corrected..just my typical attitude at work...again I APOLIGIZE that I misunderstood.
I just talk like you and the rest, we sometimes misunderstand, thats all.