In the last week, I've heard several comments from people, both intelligent and less than, speaking about "politics" in competitions. The last was chastising someone for using "practical" and "politics" in the same sentence.
Taxidermy competition is simply prima donas on ego trips. (Boy, I can't wait till some of you tear into me over that one. That'll wound you like saying some of you prostitute yourselves on ebay.) But face it. None of us want the best work we've ever done judged by someone who can't appreciate our talent and dedication. Only those judges who'd give me a blue ribbon and "Best in Show" knows what he's looking at anyway. Right?
Now the reason I say this is because "politics" has absolutely nothing to do with it. It may certainly be "prejudice", "malice", "protectiveness", or just plain "don't you even think you're as good as I am" thought processes at work. It may even be total objectivity, but whatever it is, it isn't POLITICS.
So why this post? Well, every time you let petty disagreements taint the whole pool, the actual, legitimate complaints get glossed over as more of the same. As a peanut gallery member, I've seen several competitions where judges were plainly out of their league and their critiques looked like pure vindictiveness, but just how can we ever ferret that mentality out of our shows? With everyone crying wolf, it's just too easy to assume that a particular judge was doing what judges do and the competitor was just crying because his or her work looked like crap and didn't want to admit it. If challenged and dismissed, there's often a hue and cry by those the judge favored that the actions were simply a smear campaign on that particular judge.
So what I'm telling all you competitors is that you have to stop this constant wailing about judging and concentrate on picking your battles. All of us are wounded by not being rewarded like we expect, but put that aside as you read your critique. If it is only "OPINION", then you'll just have to suck it up and go on. If, however, your complaint is legitimate, THEN is the time to complain, in writing. In fact, at NTA competitions, you can actually fire the judge who critiqued your mount, and "hire" another to reevaluate your piece. There is a penalty fee for the challenge, but if you think you're right and the judge was wrong, the fee it negligible compared to the self-satisfaction.
I admire every one of you who compete at these higher levels. It takes real courage and testicular fortitude (ladies, I'm sorry, but that term will have to work for you, too) to put that much effort into work in hopes of getting a piece of satin cloth. Without you, however, the industry would stagnate. YOU are the backbone of the growth in our industry and I, for one, am grateful for you being there. But please, help all of us by validating your complaints first (and quickly) and then following through OBJECTIVELY. And find another word besides "politics". The English language is filled with more descriptive terms.
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and I can't even pronounce half the words you used in that post. joe
I have to concur with you. Although a competition is what you make it! I have not been to a competition for a few years, but lots of photos and notes are still valuable. I was not necessarily chomping at the bit to see what I had scored, but rather the work of others, some of which was outstanding. I enjoyed the seminars from the best the industry has to offer! There were good sales from some of the suppliers. Most of all I have made some friendships that have lasted for years. Anticipating the next show was mostly to catch up on what has been going on in the lives of those I have known for sometime, but usually only see once a year. I enjoy the pool and jaccuzzi, food and spirits. Hell, it's what you make of it! Screw the ribbons, enjoy the people and seminars!
For once you are correct!
Good post George.
"Taxidermy competition is simply prima donas on ego trips." --Now George, why would you speak such truth to the flock?
.....and the tension builds for those that are silent.
normal people can't even enter a competition without being put down.
While I agree that egos are a large part of competition, not all competitors enter just to feed there egos.I met a lot of rewally great and talented people at the WTC whos sole purpose for being there was to get an honest critique of where they stand in their progress compared to toehers in the same category. Yes!, wee all want ribbons to be awarded to us to feed our egos, its just human nature that when you build something with your hands, you want to compare your hands on skill to others and beat them. Pure and simple, but I think it goes much deeper than that. I met some people who did not get the ribbons they thought they deserved, but werethrilled to find that the judges nailed them for things they had not had enough experience in the industry to notice. A second set of eyes is the best judge. We do a piece and look at it over and over again trying to find every error, and seem blind to them, yuet they stand out like a sore thumb when brought to our ateention, by a fresh set of eyes. This is what keeps us going to learn from these mistakes that otherwise we would keep makiing and make us better at whatwe do, which trickles down to improved work, and the ability to raise our prices as a reward for this learning experience. Anytime you are involved in a craft in which personal skills are tested against anothers, it is human nature to want to beat the other, just like in sports, but the yearning to learn and get better for other personal reasons is also a good part of it, and not always for the stroking of ones ego!
I agree with you about competition and whining judges. Yes, there is politics in competition. We all take our knocks at one time or another at a competition.For those complaining about the judges at the world show,if I remember correctly most of those complaining were at the professional level. I don't have any trouble with that. You are still learning the taxidermy trade and need the help to make your work better.You need to take in what the judges say and learn from it. Some of you think you are better than you actually are, and let your ego get in the way of improving. Usually those get pissed off and quit competing and never get any better. Others are just to chicken to step it up to masters division, or are in it just to get a ribbon and tell customers they won awards at the world comeptition, not mentioning it was a professional ribbon. I've heard that one more than once from taxidermist. As far as the judges not knowing a species of animals, they can't know everything about all animals. Catagories like waterfowl,deer, fish are a little easier for a judge to look at because of the similarities. Mammals or game heads are like apples and oranges. Long hair v. almost no hair. Big little. If you have something unique, it says in the rules to provide reference material. I've seen some nice things get nothing in masters at the world comp. I've walked out of there with nothing before. I've also walked out of there with master ribbons. That keeps me coming back. I want the BEST IN THE WORD TITLE. We all can't win. Someone has to lose in order for some one to win. That's life. Deal with it.
Yes you can pick and choose your JUDGES if you are on that EGO trip, or if you like their style of work you can enter under them and learn that judges style.
NOW WHEN YOU ARE SEEKING TO LEARN, you will go to many different shows and enter under many different judges.
If you skip entering a few years and are only mid upper level in quality, you may find your general skills levels have fallen a goodly amount.
Thier is a HUGE DIFFERENCE in skill levels needed to place from most states to the WORLD LEVEL.
Normal State level Blue ribbon mounts will not take but a mid level Red at the World Show.
When you take that Red ribbon lever mount and drop to a state show and the mount scores less at the state show. That is when you have your jerks in the state associations playing on ego trips.
There are many people who have been jerked around at state shows. Once in awhile at a higher level show someting slips thru the cracks, but it is seldom that it will happen.
I know at the World Show I have had such people as Danny Owens disqualify himself from judging my mounts, he had judged them at a state show, Danny is honest to a fault on judging.
What was wild about the whole deal in my mount scored higher at the World show. I knew the fault Danny had found, the other judge found them too, these bird pass the 10 feet rule easily even a five foot but you get with a couple feet and you see the problem if you know your mount.
Its called ethics and most judges are ethical. When you have a judge that says he has "never seen a GREEN LARGEMOUTH BASS" as one state judge told me you know a couple things are possible One is politics and the other is he is color blind. That person just happens to mount a good fish but his colors are based either on lack of reference or he is color blind. Since the photos of green largemouth bass are on many fishing magazine cover, could it be this NTA accepted judge is color blind? A look at his work supports that and if the fish is in the ball park or normal range on colors, how could he assign a lower score based on these colors?
He could not ethically, but he s not an ethical person having dealing with him in the past. So yes in this case I certianly would pick my judge.
For most of us COMPETITIONS are not ego trips! They are a way of learning to do better work, having a good judge show us how to read reference photos, having the judges tell us how to do something a little bit better. You take all these critiques and as much of the "HOW TO" comments as you can and start putting them 2X2X2 and your quality increases. Then suddenly you look around and would like to change the mounts on display in your showroom because you can do better work.
Where do you stop with competitions? It is a personal choice!
Many taxidermist are secretive people, they would rather be in the shop or in the woods. They donot like going to places with big crowds. Many will stick to thier shop. Other want to keep improving their game so they go where the coach is! Thats at the shows, there is little way for most taxidermist to improve their work other than attending a workshop or having a coach. Many taxidermist are not working daily as a full time job but every night, they have something else, a fill time job to make the major support money for the family.
Most of these part-time taxidermist cannot afford to go away for two weeks to a workshop, they would love to but they need those two weeks for the family vacation.
They can manage to take a few days off now and then to go to a state show. This is the main reason a states main show show be judged by ethical judges. Judges who can communicate without putting the person down, a judge who will bring his reference materials, his library, his skills to help those of us who are trying to improve our work.
Then we have George Roof NTA President wanta be putting down the same people who are members of the NTA and go to the annual NTA show to try to get a better taxidermy education.
God forbid you come to the front and tell George he is wrong about this. Where is the people other than me who will come forward and tell George his is wrong about 95% of the taxidermist going to a competition.
Ok George- last year it was judges were prima donna's- this year it's competitors are. So what you're saying here is that if you are a judge or if you are a competitor- you have an ego problem? I can honestly say Danny very seldom knows who mounts what when he judges. He makes it a point not to talk to competitors before he has completed his job. There is nothing that ticks him off worse than a phone call asking a question about a certain mount before a show- the competitor has just let him know what they are entering. He also dislikes it at a show when someone comes up and tells him what they've entered. I have seen him refuse to judge pieces that he knows a friend did and might cause a conflict. Most judges are fair and ethical people and truly love helping other taxidermists improve. Danny usually learns something from the competitor when he critiques. Once again, George, I think you let your alligator mouth overrun your hummingbird a**. Prima Donnas I think not!
Finally some truth from the judges point of view. I think the professionals here are getting tired of all of George's one-liners and philosophies. I sometimes wonder how long it takes him to write and proof read his submissions, taking time to search the dictionary for more abstract words. Unlike Yox, I think the Earls will never run off someone like George because he believes in the heap of garbage he speaks. Maybe though if George decided to compete again as well, he would crawl under his shell too! I think competitions are great and I appreciate the great judges such as Owens, Meder and Savides, etc... but I do think there needs to be a process ahead of time for insuring good judges, because firing your judge and getting penalized for it seems backa$$words to me. Some competitors are told from their customers how great they are and competitions is sometimes an eye-opener, but competitions should never get so technical that taxidermists are intimidated to even compete. I heard on an earlier post that in Michigan's competition that hardly anyone entered fish because of the degree of difficulty of judging there. That is just wrong! I sometimes wish that at the world or national level shows that there was more involvement from the competitors and guests to judge the pieces, maybe more people's choice awards?
is that it could degenerate into a Popularity Contest.
Taxidermy Competitions are like Chili Cookoffs. Many times it comes down to personal taste.
The Ohio State Taxidermy Championships years ago started having 4 judges choice and 4 peoples choice. They are Lifesize Mammal, Gamehead, Fish, and Bird. We started this because we thought it would give MORE people a chance to win a trophy. To our amazement 99% of the time THE PEOPLE have picked the same mounts as the judges. It is interesting that the Peoples Choice voting happens BEFORE the pieces are judged! Sort of cancels out the "ethics" problems. Good taxidermy is appreciated by all.
I don't always agree with judges assessments, but I have to say that in 10+ years of being behind the scenes at taxidermy competitions that I have NEVER seen anything that I thought was "unethical".
All the judges we have had have proven their "ethics".
I was really happy to meet you at this years show in the competition room - And I agree with you in saying that just because someone competes in taxidermy competitions does not mean they have ego's. I have never found my ego and probably wasn't born with one. I could never be capable of stepping over someones body to get to the top. And if George actually knew me he would know that there are those of us out there who are not driven by ego - but for our own personal satisfaction in the game. I don't need to be the one scoring the goal winning point - just willing to be happy knowing that I was part of the point in some small way.
I compete for a hobby. It breaks up my long year doing commercial work and often is my only way of getting my own trophies done at the same time. I look forward to my judges opinion on where I need to improve and if I didn't want their opinion I wouldn't compete. I had a judge tell me that he is just one opinion - and that the next judge would have their own opinion. And I roll with the punches. Whether I like them or not. But I also agree that if a judge doesn't know a particular species than he should step up and get assistance from someone else who does or make sure you have great reference material to back up your piece and further assist him.
I agree that a judge should step down from judging a piece if the judging should in any way come into questioning. With so many friends in the industry it would be hard not to eventually have someone you know judging your piece. An ethical judge will do what is right - no matter the decision. If the judge is unethical he or she is going to do what they want anyway - and if that judge is found out then that judge should be disqualified from any and all future competitions.
But as George also stated that every complaint cannot be perceived as the end of the world - you are always going to have whiners with no legitimate complaint. So there is truth in picking your battles carefully.
And for Bill - the Michigan show is reputably known for being very hard. Obviously it doesn't affect many people as our association boasts over 280 members. And our competition has many mounts each and every year - apparently the hard scoring is not scaring them off. But the members voiced their opinion years ago that they didn't want to be a ribbon hand me out state - that they wanted to be judged on the national and world stage. And the board gave them what they asked for. We are a first class show - and it reflects in everything from our facility - the entire show - to the judges and the ribbons and awards in the end. We have a waiting list of judges that ask to come to our show and everyone of them that attends wants to come back.
Our show has never seen a vast majority of fish mounts entered. The majority of our comp pieces are always WHITETAILS and mammals. With more WHITETAILS than anything else. I can only think of one person who posts on here that complains about the hard judging of fish at the Michigan show ......and it is like George said - there are always whiners.......
Are you saying that Michigan's show judges at the same level of the World Show? I live outside of Michigan but attended the show 2 years ago and did not perceive the quality or the judging to be at the same level of the World Show although there was some great taxidermists and taxidermy there to view.
You know after every show you always have the whiners complaining he/she didn't get what they deserved. Competition is supposed to be about leaning. Bill the post you read about lack of fish you should have read the whole thing. Mich. usually don't have large numbers of fish entered and this year coincidently the "fish guys" had other things going on. I am the past president and was a competition chairman for the M.T.A. I can tell you that in Mich. we do tell our judges to judge on a national or international level. Why do you think we have the top people such as Jan VanHoesen, Jean Roll, Joe Seglar, Randy Desourmo, Charlie Fanta, the list goes on. If you wish to be a ribbon state the quality will not be up to the level you need for the upper shows. I've seen best of catagory winners in the masters division in other states not even ribbon at world in the pro. division. What do you think that would do to your ego? Why are people so insistant on the fact that a state show mount is any less than a upper level piece? Is it not true that the judging should be based on the speciman you are mounting instead of where you are competing at? A steelhead is a steelhead no matter where your at. correct? We all think that we have blue ribbon pieces before we go into a show. You are willingly paying for an "opinion" of a person that you know is judging your piece. best advice is if you can't take critism, then don't compete. I don't think that any of us does a perfect piece. We are not the man upstairs that put these animals, fish,reptiles, etc. on this earth to begin with. You always hear people complaining this piece should not have won, mine was better, then 2 minutes later their saying how a judge didn't catch this or that on their piece. Maybe they did and just didn't mark it down on the sheet because there was too many other areas this person needed to work on. People need to learn to compete for themselves and not chase the ribbons. Unless you do comp. work everyday for your customers the two situations are totally different. why would you want to try and sell yourself with comp. work to a customer, only to give him/her back far less. This does far more damage than good. people need to wake up and realize that competition is an opinion from a person they believe is qualified to judge. People who have excelled in the art we all care about. Just because you don't get what you want from a person that has gone beyond your own abilities, don't cry about it. Learn from it and go on. Unless you are god, we can all improve somewhat....no matter what level your at.
Kevin Perry-past president M.T.A.
I love it when hot buttons get unitelligible responses. My post was about what comes into play at competition by BOTH judges and competitors. "Prima Donnas" is a perfectly descriptive term for both at all levels at all times. Natural instinct of a person assuming a title implies power and often the person getting it relishes it to overzealousness. Study a little psychology sometime. I didn't make that rule. God did. Go complain to him.
Bill, we share a common trait in thinking the other is a complete ass. But I seldom leave enough evidence to prove. What was that remark about "Michigan judges" not being world show judges. Nearly all the taxidermy judges in this country are NTA certified judges. Many of the very best COME FROM MICHIGAN. DUH!
And I can tell you've never spoken to me if you're concerned about me "proof reading" what I write here. I seldom if ever do. I type about 120 words per minute and think at about twice that. I have an inflated ego and a vocabulary to match. I could describe you in a thousand ways that would have you thanking me when you should have been attacking me.
Now if you and Kim will overlook your egos and READ THE POSTING, you'll see that it wasn't a slap at anyone in particular, rather a statement of FACT of human nature during competitions. I never mentioned a single person BY NAME or BY CATEGORY. I guess it's true that the person who farts like to point a finger at others. About time you sat in your own pew.
I don't have an ego, at least not when it comes to taxidermy. The prima donna comment brought out the best in me. I disagreed with your usage of it before and I probably will again in the future. And, just for your information- I am a woman and we all know- Women do not fart!
The person that farts is the first one to point fingers? Wow, another great one-liner. You type 120 words per minute and that is the best you can come up with? Wow, the other girls in your typing class must have thought you were something! Wait a minute, I think you also you used that age-old classy word "DUH" when you were referring to me, another classic. Name all of these great judges from Michigan, I can't seem to think of any great ones except for one. I am beginning to think that this forum should have either a
George category or an Opinion category so that you and the others that are of your following can expand your horizons and stay off of the categories where some are truly trying to learn something. I do occassionally make the mistake of reading some of the listings and getting drawn into this crap. I am so grateful for 99% of the people that use this forum. I have purchased some great items and I have picked up ideas that have truly advanced me in this art. Thank you to all who stick to doing only business on here!
I'll spring for the dictionary. It's spelled PROPHET. And if you checked it out, you'd find that the OPINION category on this site IS the Taxidermy INDUSTRY category. I enjoyed beating the girls in my high school typing class and I now am able to enjoy beating my granddaughter as well. My greatgranddaughter probably won't know what a "keyboard" actually is. (Mind telling me where Jan Van Hoesen lives? How about Randy Desormeau?)
Kim, dammit, I should know better than argue with you. I still love you anyway, but don't tell Danny.
There would be Jan VanHoesen, Charlie Fanta, Randy Desmoreau, Jean Roll, Joel Siegler, Frank Newmeyer to name more than one......All are from the great state of Michigan...............
If you don't know these great names you really need to renew your subscription to Breakthrough Magazine.
You got one of them right, Frank Newmeyer! As could be seen by his unbelievable wood duck mount with the blue heron driftwood at the World Show, he is truly one of a kind and continues to prove it! By the way I have received Breakthrough Magazine for years, and I am aware of the talent of the others mentioned and I will agree that they are great taxidermists and we will leave it at that! As for George, you know where you can put that dictionary, it should fit. I disagree about the Taxidermy Industry Category. I feel this should be where you ask questions about handling your business, searching for supplies & suppliers, etc... Look at the heading for this particular posting and you can see that this is not something that helps the average taxidermist or gives them advice that can help them in their business, just more mumbo jumbo from you.
You already know what "they" say about opinions. Fits right up there with my dictionary, right? Now I'm assuming you don't think much of those other Michiganders? You want to stifle the truth or do you want to just tell us why you're slandering those people? You kicked this dog, now stop it from barking.
Bill with me, I'm one of the other 87 Bill's on this site. Throw in the last name Jones and red hair, no one could forget me, I was always in trouble! LOL