I'm wondering how many enter competitions for money alone? Most have multiple reasons for competing, learning being the highest, but I saw post a few days ago where someone said they compete just for the money. It got me thinking about how economically feasible is it to compete for only money, especially given the amount of hours invested into some pieces?
If you're competing just for the money, could you tell me how much do you estimate your ROI (Return On Investment) per hour is on your time? Are you adding other assets into the figure, for example; exposure time, face time with potential students if you're teaching, a ribbon to help finalize the sale with your potential customers...?
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I don't compete for money. I love to compete though and don't have time to make as many shows as I would like. The knowledge you can pick up from a show is priceless. I have personally picked up alot of value techniques from competing. Seeing other peoples work and talking to other taxidermists is always enjoying. To compete for money, in my oppinion, takes the fun out of it, but that's just me.
I wonder ...was I the individual your referrring to. If so your mis-staken i posted other resons as well as financial. I can tell you it isn't economically feasible to compete strictly for the cash awards to be won at the show(s). The 6 pieces I put together for the World and Pa shows earned $6000 or so and I estimate that time invested would be about 2500 hours. Without materials and overhead that would pay me about $2.40 per hour. In my post I answered Lou by saying the money was the predominant reason behind my competing in Pa last year and I mis-spoke. The number one reason is because I am competitive and enjoying winning and pushing myself. As hard as I try I haven't been able to get that bug from my system. The cash awards while not much is at least a small stipend to offset the cost of attending the show and is a motivating factor behind the shows I decide to compete at. A lil is better than nothing isn't it. I cannot comment on the value of the advertising it brings because I haven't not competed for long enough to decide the impact. Competing should be a learning event(before,during and after the show),a fun social gathering, and hopefully a tool to advance this industry. Shows that offer cash awards in my viewpoint sweeten the pot.
I'm sure some would say that, but if they're sincere in their beliefs, they should join my wife at the slot machine. She has as good a chance of always being a winner. Only the winners make money and I've seen some exquisitely beautiful work get nothing in the end. A finicky judge, a stray piece of lint, and unseen spot of drumming. And even if it's perfect in every way, you may run into a show where half a dozen other people have perfect mounts as well. There a a few guys who consistently finish "in the blue", but even at the World Show, a 94 might well leave you in 6th or 7th place in some divisions. Having a title may help, but most of these competitors don't need to flaunt titles. We all know who they are. Their pieces may make a few extra bucks, but it would have to be simply spectacular to make equal to what they have invested in time and comp. fees. I'm just glad they're out there to show us the possibilities. They have to share a love of the work like us less talented stiffs do, however, as I doubt most of them ever get what a piece is truly worth.
to spend on competition isn't it? I'm not trying to start anything
here I'm just very curious. If you spent 2500 hours on your comp. pieces
and if you worked on them 12 hours a day you would spend 210 days out of the
year just on those 6 pieces? Actually that would boil down to 2520 hours
but it still seems like alot. I don't think I will ever consider trying
my hand at that. That just seems like alot of time to me.
l agree John,,,
GB thats 400 hours on each piece,thats 10 weeks straight per entry working on a standard 40 hours per week...
As for doing it for the money, most taxidermists dont even do taxidermy for the money,so l doubt that is any motivation.l know when l won 3 grand at the Worlds some years back, it only about covered my travelling and accomodation expenses for the show,let alone the down time and the booze.
and have nothing started. other than a bird. To compete against, or with the GB's you have to put in those hours, I know they are. My mediochure (sp) competition fish have 100 hours. they are my best, but only fair, in a show when the "good guys" show up. some close their shops for weeks before a show, and many, start a year in advance. If you want to compete with Gary you better put in the hours. good luck to you,
with those kinds of hours competitiveness seems like a large part of the equation. However, with extreme competitiveness comes wonderful works of art you guys put out.
Personally, I enjoy viewing Master pieces like yours but I'm not willing to commit my precious time on earth to get to the level you're at. I have a four year old daughter who gets most, if not all, my free time slots. No ribbon or money in the world can replace or be swapped for the time I could've spent watching and helping her grow ;-)
I do commend folks like yourself (Gary) who can sacrifice\invest so much of your time into piece of art, knowing ultimately, that the largest return on your time is the temporary quenching of your passions and competitive side and providing the public with a wonderful piece of art.
This is usually the route that must be taken. To be considered among the very best of anything, a competitor must produce consistant excellent pieces in a few years time to make the leap to recognition. Recognition brings individual students, judging jobs, the ability to "invent" new methods or sculpt new forms etc. If a Joe Blow sculpts new forms and tries to market them, the likelihood is quite low, but if you are a world champion it can happen - you are considered qality, whether or not they are any better than Joe Blow's. The time available to spend on a copetition piece is certainly not worth it if you aren't the winner, but can be if you are.
If taxidermists are artists, or wish to be considered artists, you can look at it like some other type of art and the journey itself is the reward even if it doesn't pay off financially. Flat artists might spend weeks or months painting a piece and simply put it on the mantlepiece to admire for the rest of their lives. They have created an object to show off to visitors which they can say they put a piece of themselves into. It creates a good feeling about yourself that you have done the very best you can. If a taxidermy piece is done to a competition level you feel much better about it than if it was done to only customer quality - but then if it is only for a customer, the artist doesn't ever have to look at it and cringe at the flaws in the mount.
If taxidermy is treated like a craft, the taxidermist gets a certain amount of satisfaction doing the actual piece, but always passed it off to the customer. I might liken it to the aunt who likes to knit afghans. She enjoys making afghans, or quilts or whatever, but after about 5 for herself, she sees no rationalle to make more afghans, so she gives them away. A hobbiest taxidermist, one who simply enjoys doing taxidermy, might take in deer heads because he loves doing taxidermy. He has no more profit motivation than the aunt who likes to do afghans - buy the supplies and maybe the equivalent of a few boxes of rifle bullets and he will mount a deer. Professional taxidermists seem to get upset royally with these hobbiests or part-timers because they think they produce poor quality and are undercutting the business they think SHOULD come their way. Pro's even regard them as hackadermists assuming they do poor quality and ruin the jobs. I disagree whole heartedly as they love doing the work and can certainly produce quality mounts. There are those who also demean these individuals because they don't belong to some profesional organization, but they are not professionals, they are simply lovers of the artform/craft.
Hobbiest or part-timers occur in every business. Yesterday and today I am helping by brother in law replace a porch roof - three squares of shingles and 12 hours of work tking the old roof off and applying the new. We are not professional roofers, but I can guarentee the quality will be as good as any professional. Did we take work away from a "professional roofer" - sure, but we did it on our time. My brother in law is doing some plumbing work in return, and he is taking work away from a professional plumber. Neither of us belong to the National "Roof"ers Association or the National Plumbers association.
For some people, competition is what drives them, but there is usually hidden ways of making it pay off. In the carving world, there is a great desire to win the main competition at the Wards show. For years, the top winner got $20,000 but it was a purchase prize which means the carver who expects to win must put in at least $20,000 dollars worth of work - which carvers, like taxidermists really don't make GREAT livings. One of the recurrent winners from Pennsylvania considered not competing anymore because his commission pieces might bring him more than the top prize. But the trick is, that if you don't win the $20,000 prize for a few years time would you continue to get commissions that way? Ultimately Wards changed it to a system where they would exhibit the piece for a period of time but the artist still retained the rights to the carving, but the winning prize amount was reduced. It is all a win-win sitution, and the local guy now wins the cake and gets to eat too. He has now won 12 Ward's shows and I believe he has used reference specimens from our museum to win them all. The second winner in this years show also used reference specimens from here. Now, when the second guy wins a first prize ribbon, then he can raise his commisson prices higher.
For the elite taxidermists' customers, it would probably be worthwhile to have a wealthy customer who wants a "world class piece" allow the artists like GB to spend the necessary time, be it 400 hours or whatever, to win best fish at the next world show. Maybe he could make $20.00 an hour of a 15 inch rainbow trout which would translate to a $8,000.00 fish or $530.00 an inch. Of cource if it only won a red ribbon...
When putting in that much time on a piece for competition, when does the taxidermist find time to work on customer mounts. I use to have a taxidermist do all my work, until competition became priority over everything else. Not only did he take 18 months to finish a half mount turkey, and 2 years for a deer mount, but he had out-priced himself for the common worker, then complained because he wasn't making any money. He always had an excuse, like the hide keeps stretching(?), to "I lost your turkey skin, I know it's here somewhere". I told him that I thought his competing was losing him clients, but the ribbon and placing was more important. He now charges over $600 for a shoulder white tail mount, because he won ribbons. Competing should be about learning new and better techniques, and bettering yourself on your work. It shouldn't be about putting your piece before the customer's. Those ribbons hanging on your wall look nice, and may bring in more customers (if you keep your prices reasonable), but won't pay the bills alone. JMO
I never heard anyone loosing clients by competing. Customer enjoy hearing the outcome of a competition because they know that what you learn at them will reflect in your daily work (their mount). As far as pricing your self out of buisness, think about that the next time you ask your boss for a raise. It kills me to think that the working force of this world thinks they are under paid for the job they do and want that raise every year, but if the local taxidermist raises his prices beacuse of the new shipping, tanning, form and supply cost that go up every year, well that guy is a rip off. Way I see it if you don't want to pay my price take it some where eles, because I rather make a fair wage and spent my extra time with family or hunting than making less that the kid nexted door flipping burgers just to make you happy.
I think its the persons choice who is competing. At this point I put a lot of hours into my fish work competition or not. I have a few customers and friends ask "why do you want to spend so much time on a fish" Well for me I cant justify slapping something together and pass it off as good so I do it to the best of my ability and each fish I push my limits. Competition fish I haven't got near the hours Gary has into his but I know that if I am going to reach the lvl I want to be at I will need to be come a master reference reader and pay my dues.
When I work on competition fish I work late at night many nights up until 3am. I never added the hours myself and am not worried, I will take the time do it how I want to get the best results I can. Some ppl doubt the amount of time some spend in their work but these are also ppl that have tried their hand at beating the top dogs and still haven't done it LOL.
As for money a wise man said to me the other day " I would rather take a blue ribbon and a dollar for a prize then just a ribbon" Now who can argue with that LOL.
I compete for me and my learning to become the best I can be,I have the drive for it and just because someone else doesn't I don't think they are crazy its just their choice. But yeah I know I am crazy LOL
Take care , Andy