Sorry for the long title but please tell me what is going on.
When I started taxidermy I was more excited with each piece than a kid in a candy store. Now that I have been at it for some time, I wonder. Not what some of you are thinking right now, just bare with me. It seems with each mammal I do, I get less excited and feel as though I am working on some assembly line. I don't do bad work on them but, they are a long way from where I want them to be. I haven't really got into ducks yet and the few I have done doesn't turn my ball either. Then on the other side of that turkeys do. Why?
Now comes the best part.
When I started I was scared to death to try fish. I knew I would have to paint them and it terrified me for some reason. Now every time I get the chance to try one I can't wait to get started. It is almost like that night before opening day of deer season. It is all I think about the night I lay one out to unthaw (just seeing if you are still reading) Thaw out. It forces me to set in front of this computer and research the habitat and waters they belong to when its an familiar or unfamiliar species. I love the challenge of not loosing scales on a crappie. I love trying to get the fins prefect even though I know I never will. I love trying to get the head and tail and everything in between to line up right. When I get finished with one I see everything wrong with it and immediately start trying to figure out what I can do the next time so I can try to be better.
Its like tonight, I took in my first reproduction of a saltwater fish. It is one that I will have to repair, strip and paint. It doesn't scare me to even try and I can't wait until I get to it. (Heck I will probably bump a couple other things so I can start it sooner then I should.) I knew last week I was going to get this fish and I couldn't stop thinking about it then and before I laid eyes on it. Even the view of the grand caynon just barely stopped me trying to decide how to fix it, and that was just looking at the photos. Now that it is in my shop I know I wont be able to get any sleep for atleast two more weeks. It is huge compared to what I have done, but that doesn't even bother me. I know when I get done with it I will see things in it I wont like. With some of the goals I have for fish I guess that is to be expected. I guess I am telling you; if you haven't figured it out, fish just plain and simple turn me on. Not in that way either, so watch it. I know some of you know what I mean. Fur and feathers just doesn't do the same, or give me the same feeling of accomplishment fish do.
Outside of family there is nothing I love more then a cold frosty mourning and deer or turkey season being open. Its just the taxidermy side of it that wont do. I guess what I would like to know is, is this how some of you deer or bird or fish only taxidermist felt? I haven't had a very high goal ever set for fur and only care if I could get 25-35 a year. I now am starting to wonder if I care if any come in. Fish on the other hand, I would love to see about 365 a year which I know can't happen but you get my drift. Don't get me wrong, I like mounting mammals and trying my best to get them right. Am I setting myself up for failure when it come to them in the long run?
oh well if you are still here thanks. Got a fish to go read more about now. LOL And you just thought I was crazy before. This latest fish is how I came across that fish test thing.
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I'm just preparing to take customers this year so I can't relate completely but it sounds like what started as a passion has become a job. I assume your full time, I saw your web site. If you were a part timer my advise would be to scale back on the jobs you take in and devote your self to one or maybe two areas of taxidermy and with the extra time you would free up focus on creating the absolute best mind blowing pieces that you can; just let the creative passion flow and charge top dollar for your work. In short, keep it a PASSION dont let it become a job. If you lose the passion sooner or later even if just in small largly unnoticable ways (to the customer) your quality of work will suffer.
I can relate to you in some regards I just can't figure out how you can stand doing FISH. I hate fish! I do a few and dread them, so lately I have sub-ed them out. I know a few people that don't do fish or ducks or whatever. Why not phase out what you don't like? I would rather be known as doing great deer than be know as someone who does an alright fish. Just a thought
I have been doing taxidermy for 16 years, primarily gameheads and lifesize because that;s what I enjoy the most. What i would suggest is that you specialize in what you enjoy doing the most or what you have the most confidence in. Taxidermy does become a job when you have overhead and a backload of work, so I try to fit some personal projects in once in awhile to break it up alittle. And to maintain your drive. It's easy to get burnt out when your putting 10 to 12 hours days in doing just clients work. You can still do all phases of taxidermy but it you would rather do fish as opposed to other things then price your gameheads and mammals with a higher profit margin to make them worth you while. Your heart has to be in it like Don said.I had similar experiences with turkeys, my clients said they looked great but I still could pick each one apart and point out things I should have done better, so I got my manuals and attend seminars and learned how to mount turkeys again, discovering the newer techniques and actually made it easy and less frustrating and with the results I was after. So what I'm saying is you have to feel confident in your work and if your not there get there. There is a wealth of knowledge out there, and learning the put the pieces and parts together is good, but it's up to you to provide the talent to create a masterpiece. Good Luck
..or one that is yet to be discovered, is Burn Out! We all get it, its just a matter of how long it hangs on and how you deal with it. If you can do something now (to remember this enthusiasm) it will pay off later.
then maybe a cure wll follow
i went through burn out years ago
found out a couple of things climbing the ladder again
first im only human and can only do so much in one day,weeks,and months
second i love my family and i had to become a better person to be around if i wanted them to stay around
cause and effect will start the ball rolling on some unpleasant things if you keep going down the road i think your on
id stop mammals for a few days and do what you like when you feel like doing it
that was the key for me
there were days that i just could not do any taxidermy
and if i tried to push through it got worse
i changed a couple of things
i began to take only what i loved(deer mounts)
and only what i could handle
well as time went on i became a better person to be around and
i enjoyed every mount most times after that
now if i feel that pressure coming around again
i stop work and do something else completely away from taxidermy
the time lets me decompress and i find im like a kid again when jumping back into it
you need to find what works for you
hope i helped
being in the dumps is not a good place to be
If you are any good at taxidermy you will NEVER be satisfied with the work you do. You will always want better.
When you do this at a high level some pieces just are not going to be to your liking. As long as your customers are happy you are ok.
You HAVE to make this a job. Make yourself hours and KEEP TO THEM. I work 40 hours a week period....UNLESS I really WANT to keep working. You have to have time off.
Charge enough for your work that you really WANT to get it done for the ca$h.
All jobs suck....some just pay more.
The enemy of good is better. This especially applies in good commercial taxidermy.
Don't confuse comercial work with competition work. If you are spending more than 10 total hours on a deer or 5 total hours on a LM Bass it is time to re-evaluate your work habits.
If you cannot separate comercial from competition don't do this for a living.
Getting burned out? Try doing something for yourself....like that fish your caught 5 years ago and never mounted.
Have a hobby that is NOWHERE related to taxidermy or the outdoors. I have spent 30 years as a semi-pro musician. Totally different circle of people. Refreshing. Out of the 1000's of people I see every month ONE GUY is a avid hunter.
I have heard your name somewhere other then here. Where are you located if you don't mind me asking.
I don't think its burnout as I don't mind doing the other things its just fish excite me way more. With fish I like the fact that I can attempt to carve the bodies and soon I will start to learn how to paint my on eyes. To me it seems as though they can have more of me in them then fur feathers and hair. Thanks guys
Donald Trump said the secret to success is you have to have a passion for what you do. Thats what takes you above and beyond.Anything less, then its just a JOB.
It could be that its the challenge of what you are doing. I anticipated starting out in game heads and it turned out to be turkeys. I never thought after learning what it takes to degrease, clean and prep a turkey for a successful mount that I would enjoy it the way I do. I understand the fear of attempting the fish, (I have a good friend who razzes me about doing birds instead of fish) but I think it is a comfort thing, based on what you know you are able to do and what you are willing to attempt. I will attempt fish...eventually and who knows, maybe I will discover that I am similar to you and really enjoy them, but in the interim, I am going to stick to game heads and birds until I catch my own fish and attempt the mount. I think Jim hits on a good point, but I believe that the intensity of the passion varies with the individual. I do have concur with the others though, don't lose the passion that you have, as it may very well be your corner or keystone of what you do.
Best of luck with what ever you find worksbest for you.
Know a larry Scheafer well enough he would have mentioned you name, then I must be mistaking. Thanks Jim
I believe at one time there was a Jim Tucker from (I Think)Indy who was pretty active in shows as well.
It is obvious you really enjoy them and hate the rest. I hate doing fish and am not real fond of birds ( but I tolerate them and I also found I can do a real dandy standing pheasant mount), but I LOVE doing medium game animals like foxes and coyotes, and most other mammals. So I have gone into specializing in mammals( including large games as well). There is nothing wrong with this at all so long as your customer base is big enough to support it. You can also do wholesale for other taxidermists. I know some hate doing fish as much as I do and sub them out. I know some taxidermists hate doing foxes, coons,mink, bobcats, coyotes,etc, so I am thinking of doing these wholesale and just did up a wholesale price sheet.