This is like, why do you hunt, why do you fish, why do you like sex, why do you eat food everyday!) I don't know)! Yes, I do. Every industry has a small percentage of its people doing "research and development). This is the life blood of the industry. There are about 40 - 50,000 taxidermist in the U.S., about 3,000 are members of the NTA and state associations. Of these 3,000 probable 300 or 400 compete each year in shows. These competitors are doing the research and development for the taxidermy industry. There is no shame or disgrace in not being involved in development. However, shame on you if you don't keep up with new developments and incorporate them into your commercial work to save time, improve quality and make more money.
For example years ago some taxidermist in his dark little La-Bor-A-Tory (Probably Arp) cut the head, all the fins and the tail off a fish and cast the parts. He entered and won a competition to show off his new development. Now you can buy perfectly cast whole fish or parts at a very reasonable price.
A young Savides one day probably cursed duck heads for being larger in circumference than their neck. Being a developer, he cut the skin off at the bill and pulled the head out from the front. Then instead of spending a lot of time cleaning the head, he made a cast of it. Wala, duck taxidermy just got better and faster!
Do successful competition taxidermists have big egos? You better believe it. Look at me! Ego is the gasoline that runs the engine. The problem can be sometimes it overflows and gets all over your hands and smells and tastes bad. I know of one guy that isn't even a competitor and he reeks of gas. Who? Can't say, but it's not you. I mention ego because some people drop out of competition because they don't like the "scene).
Have I answered the original question yet? No! Well, competition to me is in part my paycheck for trying to improve my taxidermy every year. It lets me know exactly where the quality of my taxidermy stands. As far as being a successful businessman in taxidermy, that is gauged by how much money per effort I earned for the year. Some one told me once, "You can't eat those blue ribbons.) That's like a guy with very little money saying "I hate new cars)!
Wait, I still haven't answered the question. I like the people that attend competitions. Will Rogers would love it: hunters, fisherman, common profession, down to earth people. The taxidermist with his little secrets, not talking to other taxidermist is pretty much a thing of the past. Some of that is due to the conventions. I have great admiration for, number one, taxidermists that are trying to improve at every level and number two, taxidermists that are at the head of their class in research and development school. Thru the year's I've come up to Barb and said "You won't ----in believe it, I talked to so and so today! It's just nice to be at a convention and be surrounded by people that are in the same fox hole. Bullets flying overhead, rats chewing on our boots, and we are just loving it.
So "why do I compete)?
I think I'll make this a series, next up "Why I hunt)!
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and great article in Beakthrough, also. Tell Barb hello.
that was a true statement.
No one has ever put it so correctly. I think many taxidermists felt this way and just couldn't put in words, now they know.
It is very inspiring as a novice to see how much this industry has changed in only a few years. I will be going to these shows like a sponge trying to soak up as much info as posible. Currently, in my free time(my job) I have been reading back issues of Breakthroug mags and as soon as I get home, I try to incorperate the things I've learned into my work. I hope to meet some of you folks in Springfield at the world show. Till then, thanks for all the input here, behind the orange button, and in the soon to come.
Fine job of putting it into words, or print, rather. Competitions have brought me closer to acheveing the goal of being the best taxidermist I can be. I love meeting my fellow competitors and sharing ideas. It is inspiring to meet the people you read about in Breakthrough. They are real people just like the rest of us and it gives hope that we can get there as well. I had so much fun presenting everyone with their awards at the Nationals last year. It meant so much to me to be able to share that moment with Evelyn, Jean, Mike, and even you John! This industry has become like family to me and each show is like a big family reunion. I compete to learn, enjoy being with friends new and old, and most of all- have fun! I simply can't wait to see you all at the shows this year!
Excellent job John!
but i have one question.
Do they have any kind of tests you need to take to be an orthodontist in Colorado.....or do they just let any yayhoo do it!?!?
bondo and superglue. the next time i get dental work done, im taking my own materials and asking for a discount! HAAAA
good post mr. lager
I agree with almost everything you said. Of course the names were wrong on who developed bird heads and fish heads, but we got the idea. It was a good point. But you are doing way too much bragging about the s-x thing. Your first sentence lol. See ya in Souix falls.
Innovation is the draw that it appears to me you seem to compete. First off, I have no admonitions against the NTA or any State Association, but my take on the people who do most of the innovations in taxidermy, are not necessarily members of the National Association or any of the excellent State Associations. My take on it is that the Part-time or hobbyist taxidermists actually innovate or devolope a new idea for taxidermy more than the full time taxidermists. The people who are engineers, or sculptors or other artists who dabble in taxidermy, chemists, natural history researchers, marketers, even paint salesmen who have a clear vision. The average taxidermist, and to be specific, the median taxidermist, has only a high school degree, and struggles to make a living in taxidermy. Actual research often takes either lots of money, or lots of time to develope a unique new casting system, or a new tanning system, or innovative painting technique. Commercial companies already invented air brushes, and urethane foam, and individual assembly parts, and it was only when someone with a vision thought "outside the box" and applied the technique to the field of taxidermy.
Education and disemination of knowledge is THE most important factors to build a basis of making improvements in the taxidermy field or any other field. Publications like Breakthrough and Taxidermy Today bring info to the commercial taxidermist, but few people who are taxidermists keep up on journals with related topics that might apply to taxidermy. How many taxidermists read Leather Conservation News, or Collection Forum, of keep up with the Canadian Conservation Institute. Yet, all these publications, and many other similar ones, tell us critical information that relates to taxidermy - both its' initial preservation and how it might hold over time. VERY few taxidermists actually do the necessary work in the "La-bor-a-tory" as you put it. From what I understnad, Glen Conley is actually doing real research which will, and is, modifying how taxidermists think. Larry Bollman did a similar impact, as did Dale Knobloch, and Bob Williamson. First there must be the idea and then the application followed by the disemination of the information.
Many on this may not even know who Bob Williamson is. For those of you who don't, I believe he was primarily a paint salesman who was perhaps the second best Marketer in Taxidermy History. He started WASCO and the World Competition, but I'm not even sure he was a skilled taxidermist. Ken Edwards would know much more.
I would be remiss to not point out how important this forum is to disemination of Knowledge. I thank WASCO and Mr. Edwards for keeping it running! Heck, I finally made the highlights of the Forums in the latest Breakthorugh - I can die happy now...