Whaddya Think?

Submitted by Jerry on 11/12/1998.

( jds@vvm.com )

I've re-written this three times because I wasn't exactly sure what point I was trying to make but here it is . . . what do you think is more important in a client's mount, technical correctness or overall presentation? I agree that to look good a mount needs a certain degree of technical correctness. For instance, the eyes cannot be crosseyed or it takes away from the display. Obviously one eye cannot be 1/2" higher than another. But, at what point should the industry be willing to allow the technical to be set aside for the overall look of the mount. For example, I looked at a fellow taxidermist's display today of two black bears squaring off over a fish. There were some mistakes (one neck was a little too long- my opinion- and the noses didn't look quite right, etc.) but the "client appeal" was magnificent. The piece, when viewed from 6' distance or over, told a story that was very convincing. I know that there are some awards in competitions that recognize the artistic aspect of the mount, but it seems such a shame that the scoresheets are so heavily weighted toward the technical part and very little toward art. For example, I don't see how a person can mount a "perfect" deer head with a closed mouth that hangs on the wall and get a score any higher than 94 points (extra 6 points are awarded for artistic effort, etc.) - the lower end of a 1st place ribbon. Yet if a person does a magnificent display with a few errors it can easily knock him down to a 2nd place. Whaddya think about the idea of some type of sliding scale that could fairly pit a "standard" technical mount against an "artsy" mount. Just thoughts . . . Jerry

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I hate these topics

This response submitted by Bill on 11/13/1998.

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this topic is one of my pet peaves! Without bragging, I won the Bruchac award a few years back with...a closed mouth. Why? Because it was accurate and the judge used the scoresheet correctly. I have a Breakthrough article coming up that addresses this same topic. I'm SO tired of the guys saying the only way to win is to crank the mouth open. I DO like the open mouth look, but the mount has to be accurate. The mount, in MY opinion, has to be pleasing to the eye as well! When I judge, I like to get right up to the mount and evaluate it according to the scoresheet, but I like to step back and view it for it's "feel", too. As for the customer mount, I think the piece that best balances anatomical accuracy with eye appeal is the good commercial mount. Did you hear what I said? To me, the best combinationof both. Myself, personally, I would prefer the very accurate piece because my eye would see things my customers might not. But I, like other taxidermists, specialize in this. My clients don't. BUT, I do think that the guy comes out to get the mount might not know about a zygomaticus or scutiform cartilage per se, but his eye still tells him that something isnt quite right, if it isnt. The customer is becoming knowledgable. So to answer the ? Jerry, I think the mount that takes some artistic license to look good is OK in commercial taxidermy, and the client always dictates the look, based on where he brings his work. How's that? See ya, Bill.

oh, by the way...

This response submitted by Bill on 11/13/1998.

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...if that sounded harsh to anyone, it wasnt really meant to be, I just had to blow through it fast and get back to work. When I read it today, it does seem to have an attitude that wasnt meant to be implied. BUT I STILL MEAN IT ! ...see you guys later, Bill.

Attitude Is Everthing

This response submitted by John Bellucci on 11/13/1998.

( ArtistExpr@aol.com )

Attitude SHOULD be everything - especially in the MOUNT itself. Thought I was going to go crazy didn't you? Seriously though, for example, the lion mount I did for myself, was done to be a representative restoration of a mature African lion, just "hanging-out" on his rock, being a lion. He has the attitude of being: "the ruler of his land - overseeing his territory". The mouth was only opened because I wanted to show a large, heavy-weight lion, with a semi-panting mouth. It is detailed to the "teeth", even with the back of the throat opening. My point? All that detail, correct as it was, meant zip in two of the largest shows it was entered in. Neither technical correctness or "attitude", the lions not mine, was taken into account. It is a customer-pleaser too. His size is enormous, so that in itself impresses people, and has garnered new clients. He's not in an "action" pose, or in the unnatural low-slung "skulking" pose, but he does impress. After the initial impression, then he gets "the examination" by most of the folks who are "up" on such things as deep nostrils, correct eyes, exacting mouth detail, etc. To those who aren't up on what we do, quality wise, I do believe they would begin to "see" wrong things if they were present in a mount. A crooked face is a crooked face, there's no not noticing such things. I think my point is that the techical goes hand in hand with the artistic or the "attitude" of the final piece. As for the competition arena, I'm sorry, but there's more political B.S. there than should be tolerated. A really good mount, techincally correct and appropriately presented, can be overlooked and it's finer details ignored if it suits a certain judges fancy. Sometime "flash" wins out over "substance", and that is a shame! Some more opinions to think about. Best to all. John B.

Here is your chance Taxidermists!

This response submitted by Jeff on 11/14/1998.

( jeffl@craftech.com )

Hey guys, I am about to open a Fish Taxiderny Studio. I should be up and running before the spring. Needless to say I have come down with a mortal case of " Studio Name Block " Yipes..!!!1 What I need is a decent name. I have been working for another outfit for a while but I am gonna go on my own. I do some nice work, I paint a load of Saltwater reproductions too. Have any of you guys, Pros or beginners, come up with a name they wish they could of, should of or dream of using for a shop? Come on.... I know you guys have to have something stored away in those creative minds! I'll even agree to erect a memorial plaque in my display area recognizing with great gratitude the guy or gal that comes up with a decent name for me. I promise!! I am open to any input here and I also realize I am leaving myself open to a barrage of humorous responses. Don't worry, I won't be offended! At this point... give me all you have got! I just need responses! Let the names begin!!! Waiting, Jeff

Who pays your bills?????

This response submitted by Bob C on 11/14/1998.

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Jerry, Ihad to throw my 5 cents worth in ( inflation) The way I look at it is who pays your bills the customer or the judges. I , speaking for myself would rather see an eye catching , artisticly done piece than one that is done exactly anatomicly perfect.I would rather spend my time making the mount have "cutsomer appeal"instead of worrying that the eyes are not exactly level. As long as the eyes are focused on the person looking at the mount who cares. Does your customer really take a flash light and look down the throat of that bugling elk while its hanging 6 ft high on the wall? I really dont think so. So guess where my vote goes ?I go with the guy that pays my bills. Customer Apeal!

Some Clients Do!

This response submitted by John Bellucci on 11/14/1998.

( ArtistExpr@aol.com )

Believe it or not, I tend to "educate" my clients in the "ways of the flashlight".
That's because each and every piece that I do is of the top-of-the-line quality that I would want for myself.
And yes, I charge for the service!
I never have to even mention what the competition does in the way of the differences between my work and theirs.

That's because I tune them in to what a quality mount is, and how that makes the difference in the long run.
With that, they tend to begin to care.
They begin to ask questions.
If one is really up on his/her stuff, then answering these questions reinforces what you do in their mount.
And THAT is just as important as collecting any fee.
Because THAT is what will allow one to charge a livable fee for their services.

There is no excuse for eyes that are not exactly level.
If one won't put un-level eyes in a competition mount, then why would one not practice the same level of accuracy on the mounts that actually pay the bills?
That does not make sense.

My point is that there is no real reason why the two ideas of technical correctness and eye-appeal or "attitude", can't or shouldn't go hand-in-hand.
If doing the best work possible becomes a daily practice, then it becomes a part of ones routine - and if it becomes part of the routine, it ceases being a "special" treatment, and becomes an everyday level of high quality to be proud of, for sure.
With that as your "standard", you can't help but be in a position to charge a fee that the work warrants; a fee that earns a livable wage.
Best of luck... John B.

Look Alive

This response submitted by Rick on 11/15/1998.

( dleteff@eatel.net )

Well fella's, as you all know, I have'nt been mounting things for very long now, but, every one that see's my work says that it looks "alive" unlike any other local taxidermists work they say looks dead. I have to say a lot of the look is in "attitude". I try to make my mounts "come alive" with artistry and it seems to work.

The live look!!!!!

This response submitted by John C on 11/20/1998.

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We as taxidermist, go way above and beyond the symitry (spelling) of nature. Never has any thing in nature been near as perfect as we put things back togather. (l) We are really out there on perfection, in nature it does not happen. Look in to some photography books. most will show you four photos of the same person, the real photo, a reverse, a left half with the left half reversed. and the sam for the right half, and you will generally see what appears to be four different people.(l) A bears neck thats to long? First did you see the bear before skinning? I have seen many wild bears mostly blacks, but man have I seen them crain that neck around. How many fat bears in the wild have you ever seen? Not any like the caged farm bears you see on T.V. Only one time have I seen a tv bear that looked like a real bear, (ALL MY CHILDREN about 13 years ago, REX HORTON trainer) his bears are worked every day, and yes the really can strech the neck. (l) Sure maybe the mount you are talking about was over done, but was it eye catching? and yes we should put things back better than they look in real life. But the green ribbon of cash and a happy customer goes a long long way. John C.

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