I went to a guys house to pick up a bobcat, I've done a few mounts for him and he he had been wanting me to stop by and see the taxidermy room he has accumulated,I figured I would compare my work to some of the others he has. I've only been working on taxi. in my spare time for the last few years and figured I could learn a few things, He has 20-25 animals mounted, most looked nice but two of the bobcats he has looks awful, one pupil crooked, one eye higher than the other,and looks like they have been hit in the face with a sledgehammer, noses are painted black with a mist of flesh(very small mist), mouth work is all black, too many things for me to mention and I'm only a novice, he asked me my opinion of them and I told him that the detail work was awful. These mounts were done a prof. taxidermist that has been around for over 25-30 years, I learned that I have nothing to worry about on my work, I know it isn't perfect but I am learning with each mount that I finish. Would any of you out there have told the man the truth or just said it's nice?
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It's better that you told him the truth then lied to him. Because now he knows what he did wrong and in the future he will probably try to correct the mistakes he made.
I always ask two questions first. Question 1: Why would you ask ME to look at it? and Question 2: Are you happy with the way it looks?
Question one gets you off the schnide. If they say they'd just like to have another taxidermists give them their impression, I tell that that it's not fair unless they think my work is better than what they have. They usually answer the question either yes or no. If no, then I tell them that I do things differently and if they are satisfied with Question 2, then there's no reason for me to look.
Now if they insist, I always remind them that they may NOT like what my opinion is. I had a guy at an outdoor show who had a lifesized piebald deer in a case setting directly across from our state taxidermy competition. He insisted that I grade his deer as to how it would do in our show. I told him that at state level, that deer would probably get a third place ribbon, but most likely only an honorable mention. He went into shock.
He told me he'd paid $1500 for the mount and I told him that was a good price for a deer in a glass case. He was again shocked at why I thought that. I told him that had I mounted the deer, it probably would have placed no higher than second in the state show, but he'd have paid me $2500 to do it. I showed him how the ears were drummed, the ears were set too far down the neck, the nostrils were filled with embalming wax, and there was a gap in the seam on one leg. The hooves weren't set against the mannikin properly and the eyesets had covered one iris partially with no nictitating membranes. His mouth gaped and he told me he'd never ask another taxidermist a question ever again.
...When I get repair work in my shop this usually is a time when situations like the above come into play. Just about every piece that has been brought in is either poor quality or very old or both. I try not to come right out and show them why their piece is garbage. I think this makes the person feel "stupid" and I don't want to come across as "cocky". So, what I usually do is I point out a few positives if I can find them. And then I'll pull a fish of mine off the wall and show them the differences...
YOU ARE STUPID !
Gary, I have a problem at times where I tend to run off at the mouth a bit too much and later regreat saying something I've said. Now I try to say as little as I can about another taxidermist's work but sometimes I can't help myself. It can come back to haunt you. We've all seen some really bad mounts and most of us did some really bad mounts as we gained experience. I would hate for anyone to judge my work based on mounts that I did years ago. In this business there is a demand for top quality work and there is a demand for inexpensive work of much less quality. Some can not justify paying $400 for a whitetail mount and I think it's a good thing that there is always a guy near by that does them cheap, this way everyone who wants a deer head can have one mounted, even if it does look like &^#!. -Aaron H.
These mounts have been done in the last 7 yrs, The taxidermist that completed them done a squirrel for me in '89 and he had been in business for a long time before that, I was told that the mounts are used with the original skull and teeth, I figure that is why the look the way they do, not saying anything to offend any one using the complete skull, I figure it is more trouble than it is worth, my time is worth more that the money I'd save by trying that. In a nut shell though the guy is more than happy with the mounts, he implied to me that he thought the facial/mouth detail wasn't very good, I just told him what he already knew. Thanks everyone for your input.