Sunday Morning Questions (SMQ's) part 41
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Rick Krane
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Location: Hinsdale NH
Posts: 2464


Fish Taxidermist/ Judge/ Sculptor/ Instructor


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« on: December 02, 2006, 11:40:44 PM »

SMQs week 41

Good Sunday Morning!!!  I do how all is well with all of you and the week has been a good one! I have been working on the shop and have a gentle man from Alaska here this next 2 weeks so I have not been here much but I have read some great posts this evening and WOW on the week in fish pictures!

Well I hope this weeks contribution of fish food for thought shares some entertainment and knowledge for you.

I thank you and WASCO for letting me share in my passion "FISH! As long as you keep answering the questions, I will keep writing them.

So with out further ado! Lets Get the morning stared to a new week with some fish taxidermy talk! The good people at WASCO give us the free opportunity here to share information so we can be better-informed taxidermist! So in the spirit of WASCO generosity we share freely with each other!


1. Why do you charge what you do for fish and how often should some one go up in there prices?

2. If you had only one choice would you mount warm water fish, cold water fish or paint reproductions and why?

3. Why would you join a state association? What would you be looking to get out of it for your taxidermy?

4. How much word of mouth business do you get as compared to other forums of business IE phone book etc?

5. How long do you let a salmon dry?

6. If you were thinking of getting in to doing fish taxidermy what would you need to do first to get started?

7. What kind of a Taxidermist are you? Did you start out as an all around taxidermist doing all aspects of taxidermy and phased in to specializing? How did this happen and what made you decide to become a specialist? Share your thoughts on how and why you choice the path in taxidermy you did. IE; I do fish only or I do all taxidermy ands here is why...

8. What are 2 or 3 things a person could do to become a better at airbrushing fish? Tell us how you learned and what benefited your development.

9. What is the difference between a Brown trout (Salmo trutta) and the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salzar)?

Bonus question 10
Do you have 2 standards for your work? If yes Why? Tell how you explain the difference and why there is one to a customer that show room quality is or may not be what you give as a standard of general work.


It is all because of you and your awesome replies this has become so successful!
From beginners to the seasoned pro's every one contributes and all benefit from your great experiences! Let see if I we can get more responses on the forum as well as in my email. I will give you some free fish reference photos for the asking just for contributing!
As always I just think your answers are so good more and more contribute on here for all see!

My Best and have fun with this!

Rick Krane
Anglers Artistry
312 Chesterfield Rd
Hinsdale, NH 03451
603.336.7296
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Frank E. Kotula
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Location: wilkes barre
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master, judge, instructor


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« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2006, 06:57:00 AM »


1. Why do you charge what you do for fish and how often should some one go up in there prices?
It's all the time and quality I put into the client's fish. It would be great if we all thought on the same level and went up in prices at least once a year. With todays economy we should be raising our price up for our work.

2. If you had only one choice would you mount warm water fish, cold water fish or paint reproductions and why? That's not a fair question Rick! LOL  I guess it would be cold water. Why The colors they have, tiny scales to paint so I have to wear stronger glasses. To me they just have more beauty in them.

3. Why would you join a state association? The reason I joined was to learn taxidermy. From there I met some many different people, friends, etc. What you put into your state is what you get out of it.

What would you be looking to get out of it for your taxidermy? Right now there is always someting you can learn but I like to help out others who have just started and need a bit of guidance. That's where I get my enjoyment.

4. How much word of mouth business do you get as compared to other forums of business IE phone book etc? I would say 75% is word of mouth and the other is from other forums.

5. How long do you let a salmon dry? I like three to four weeks.

6. If you were thinking of getting in to doing fish taxidermy what would you need to do first to get started?
Info is what you want, get as much as you can and this is one of the best places to get it. If a person wants to learn we can guide him to what books, video's or people to seek out for answers that will teach him the proper way.

7. What kind of a Taxidermist are you? All around.....
Did you start out as an all around taxidermist doing all aspects of taxidermy and phased in to specializing? No and I still don't specialize in any aspect of taxidermy.
How did this happen and what made you decide to become a specialist? Share your thoughts on how and why you choice the path in taxidermy you did. IE; I do fish only or I do all taxidermy ands here is why...
The reason I do it all is boredom. Do the same thing over and over each day in and out makes Jack a dull boy. I like to thought of working on a few of the same species and then change it to another. I never get bored or have cabin fever that much.

8. What are 2 or 3 things a person could do to become a better at airbrushing fish? Practice, practice and more practice.
Tell us how you learned and what benefited your development. I started with Passche Vl and didn't get details, then I got the Jr. for it was for detail work. Nope didn't get what I wanted. Then Breakthrough had an article on air brushes. From there I went to an Aztec and had great success with that. My detail got much better but still not happy with detail but I couldn't complain either. Then through associations and more reading it was the Iwata. So I got one of them also. From there I never changed. I do all my fish painting with it but still like my Aztec for mammal work.

9. What is the difference between a Brown trout (Salmo trutta) and the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salzar)?
Spot patterns.

Bonus question 10
Do you have 2 standards for your work?  No! If yes Why? Tell how you explain the difference and why there is one to a customer that show room quality is or may not be what you give as a standard of general work.

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Frank E. Kotula
http://www.FranksWildlifeStudio.com
one on one classes 570-819-0391
All phases of taxidermy
Rogerst
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« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2006, 08:56:09 AM »

1. . Why do you charge what you do for fish and how often should some one go up in there prices?  I used a formula that includes overhead + supplies + hourly wage and reached a rough figure and rounded to a nice even number.  I charge a flat fee and not a fee based on how many hours, for example I do not tell the client that there Walleye will be $40 per hour.

2. If you had only one choice would you mount warm water fish, cold water fish or paint reproductions and why?   Living in Northern Ohio I see 10 warm water fish for evey cold water, I agree that the cold waters are more beautiful.

3. Why would you join a state association? What would you be looking to get out of it for your taxidermy?  I joined the state association after about a 10 year absence because I knew I was not up to date in the field.  I have found a lot og good reasons to be involved Technically, I guess the seminars are worth the price of the weekend conventions.

4. How much word of mouth business do you get as compared to other forums of business IE phone book etc?  I do pretty well from an internet website, I also do well from a sports show that I attend, but word of mouth is probably 50% of my business.

5. How long do you let a salmon dry?   I think 2-3 weeks.  After you clean and degrease, and take off the head they dry at a little slower rate than a warm water fish.......except the bigger salmon and lake trout. 

6. If you were thinking of getting in to doing fish taxidermy what would you need to do first to get started? I think a basic video, a good skinning knife, heavy snips, an understanding spouse or significnant other, and an understanding garbage collector.    Basic knowledge of an airbrush, and reference (honest honey I need the in-fisherman magazine for reference).

7. What kind of a Taxidermist are you? Did you start out as an all around taxidermist doing all aspects of taxidermy and phased in to specializing? How did this happen and what made you decide to become a specialist? Share your thoughts on how and why you choice the path in taxidermy you did. IE; I do fish only or I do all taxidermy ands here is why...   I started out doing everything with a skin.  I specialized in fish because that was the highest volume I got in.  Now I limit my practice to Africans, Exotics, and Fish.   I will still do an occassional bird for a friend or full mount for a local but not often.  I changed because of an unfortunate event.  Our local game officers were out-of-control.  When I moved to this area from Michigan, I brought my personal mounts that were over 15 years old, these officers demanded all the information on them.....I only had on a couple.  they then demanded to open my freezers, and even came to my home (more than 10 miles from my lab) and opened those freezers.  They  whole time making degrading comments about how its people like me that ____.    Needless to say the next time they came back I was ready for them.  I opened up the lab but refused to allow them in my home.   Demamnded that they get a warrant because that property was not subject to their authority.  Then Got the warrant squashed in a separate court proceeding.  I just don't take federal migratory fowl, or Ohio Game animals because of this unless I am certain of the character of the hunter.

8.  What are 2 or 3 things a person could do to become a better at airbrushing fish?  I agree, Practice and good paint.


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Ken D
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Location: Pensacola, Florida
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« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2006, 09:34:50 AM »

Thanks for the SMQs Rick! Have a great week folks!


1. Why do you charge what you do for fish and how often should some one go up in there prices?
I consider the cost of living and the cost of doing business (directly and indirectly). I use a formula to determine my prices based on this factoring in my required hourly rate. I go up everytime one of these factors increases.

2. If you had only one choice would you mount warm water fish, cold water fish or paint reproductions and why?
Thats a tough one. Coldwater to warmwaterI have no real preference but if I had to choose from your choices I guess it would be replicas. I think I could get a much more accurate representation without some of the inherent problems with some skin mounts. Besides, painting is one of my favorite parts and I also really enjoy molding and casting.

3. Why would you join a state association? What would you be looking to get out of it for your taxidermy?
I joined my state association a good while after I joined the NTA. Someone at an NTA show told me about it and so I joined. The primary reason at the time was to learn as much as I cold and to meet other taxidermists close to me. Networking, fellowship, learning, competition opportunities are all good reasons to join a state association, but I think the best reason to join is to be a part of a group of people that represents the industry at that level. We have differences from time to time and the challenge is to get past those for the greater good and build state associations that maintain a broad and very noticeable presence in the industry.

4. How much word of mouth business do you get as compared to other forums of business IE phone book etc?
Word of mouth was always the best form of advertising for me. Its easy for me to say that to someone just starting their business and trying to get a clientele established, but it is true. However, word of mouth,  while effective, is not neccesarily as fast as other methods of advertising and I think it is important to make a distinction there for these folks.

5. How long do you let a salmon dry?
Been a while since I did a Salmon but I used to let those puppies dry for 2 weeks at the very minimum depending on its size and preferably a week or two more than that. Truthfully, I was pretty much the same way with most coldwater and saltwater skins2 weeks minimum.

6. If you were thinking of getting in to doing fish taxidermy what would you need to do first to get started?
Thats easy for us now given the benefit of hindsight. I think the norm now is to go to the internet  and see what could be found on the subject. That would most definitely lead to this forum whereas you would be able to get some really good advice on how to do just that. When I started, we didnt have internet and my wife found some booklets in the back of a Field & Stream or something like that.

7. What kind of a Taxidermist are you? Did you start out as an all around taxidermist doing all aspects of taxidermy and phased in to specializing? How did this happen and what made you decide to become a specialist? Share your thoughts on how and why you choice the path in taxidermy you did. IE; I do fish only or I do all taxidermy ands here is why...
I started out wanting to learn all species. Once I had developed a basic proficiency and opened a business, I continued to do so but had a particular interest in fish and in turn started a fish wholesale business. I did, however, continue to do full service taxidermy work in my retail establishment. I would probably not mind specializing in fish replicas, but its is very hard to teach an old dog.

8. What are 2 or 3 things a person could do to become a better at airbrushing fish? Tell us how you learned and what benefited your development.
Know your equipment, the medium you are working with and the conditions which affect it. This will reduce your frustration immensely giving you the patience to get the most out of hours you will spend practicing!

9. What is the difference between a Brown trout (Salmo trutta) and the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salzar)?
There are many differences other than the more obvious ones. S. salzar is anadromous while S. trutta is potamodromous. The Brownie has a much thicker caudal peduncle than the Atlantic. An obvious difference is the maxillaryon trutta, it will extend past the rear edge of the eye whereas it will not on salzar.
The markings are also an obvious giveaway.

Bonus question 10
Do you have 2 standards for your work? If yes Why? Tell how you explain the difference and why there is one to a customer that show room quality is or may not be what you give as a standard of general work.

Im not so sure about the 2 standard thing as I mentioned last weekthat said, there are things that I will do for a customer depending on whether it is a special commission or not, which would obviously run the tab way up. Keep in mind, this is not the norm and I would not by any means consider it a standard of work, but rather an exception.
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John C
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« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2006, 09:38:10 AM »

1. Why do you charge what you do for fish and how often should some one go up in there prices?

I charge enough to cover what I need,,  expenses, labor, profit, and enough to go to a couple shows per year, i.e. continuing education.


2. If you had only one choice would you mount warm water fish, cold water fish or paint reproductions and why?

Warm water, I have a system that would allow 20 fish per week without busting my hump.

Cold water fish are more challenging, not because of the mounting but because to really reproduce the colors it takes more time.

Same for reproductions.


3. Why would you join a state association? What would you be looking to get out of it for your taxidermy?

I have been a member of two state association over time. When I began taxidermy it was for the education values. Not so much anymore.. I would also look for a association that is really interested in providing good seminars, fair competitions, and improving the quality of the taxidermy profession within their state.



4. How much word of mouth business do you get as compared to other forums of business IE phone book etc?

This differers from area to area, I have lived in areas where yellow pages work great, some places newpapers worked great and some places word of mouth is best.


5. How long do you let a salmon dry?

Since I don't get many salmon, I think it would depend on the areas humidity verse temp. The lower the temp, the lower the humidity, I  also would cast the fins, head to reduce drying time on any sized salmon.

6. If you were thinking of getting in to doing fish taxidermy what would you need to do first to get started?

1st a good air compressor, 20 to 30 gallon tank or bigger, auto touch-up gun, filters, filters, respirator, a good selection of lacquer paints, two room shop, several knives, basic set of foam, rtv, freezer and several fish for display, spray booth, and plenty of reference materials, to include quality several reproductions

7. What kind of a Taxidermist are you? Did you start out as an all around taxidermist doing all aspects of taxidermy and phased in to specializing? How did this happen and what made you decide to become a specialist? Share your thoughts on how and why you choice the path in taxidermy you did. IE; I do fish only or I do all taxidermy ands here is why...

All phases here, I started with fish, then deerheads and now I am working hard on improving my birds. When I lived in Germany I did only fish, I found a niche' and filled it. After returning to the states I have worked hard to improve my work in all phases.

8. What are 2 or 3 things a person could do to become a better at airbrushing fish? Tell us how you learned and what benefited your development. Practice with different air pressures, percentages of retarder and use moisture controls and paper filters at the gun. Practice somemore.

9. What is the difference between a Brown trout (Salmo trutta) and the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salzar)?

Number of spines in dorsal and anal fin, more pronounced hooks of the upper and lower mandibles. Having never seen a Atlantic salmon I really don't know!

Salzar would indicate its a saltwater version of the same species, I think.

Bonus question 10
Do you have 2 standards for your work? If yes Why? Tell how you explain the difference and why there is one to a customer that show room quality is or may not be what you give as a standard of general work.

Almost every award winning mount I have done has been for someone else, matter of fact I have a couple I am working on now and they are for clients. I do plan and doing some things just for the showroom in the future. My hopes is to someday have the showroom speak for the work that is being mounted n the studio.

I really think we as taxidermist should be putting our best work out the door for our clients.  Not sending 2nd rate work out, but thats my feeling and certainly not the feeling of many other taxidermist.

There is always room for any quality taxidermy work out there. I have always done my best, to the best of my knowledge and skills. I still keep trying to improve.
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20% Share holder Advanced Marine Performance, LLC, Hydro hull design engineer Vexus Boats.
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« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2006, 07:46:13 PM »

1.  My prices are based on how much time I have in a piece of work multiplied by an hourly rate plus direct expenses.  Those prices go up when the cost of doing business goes up (indirect expenses affecting the hourly rate) and/or I have developed a more realistic way of doing something (that takes more time/hours) and I want to include that process on future contracted work.

2.  For me there is no difference between how I paint a skin mount or a reproduction, so Id have to go skin mount because I really enjoy the process of taking a fish apart and putting it back together again.  And for me there is no difference between what I would do for a warm water fish or a cold water fish, so a fish is a fish and I like all kinds of fish so I wont make a choice there.

3.  There are a lot of good reasons to join a state association but I just havent done so in a long time.

4.  Since I have been established, word of mouth advertising has become my biggest form of advertising with all others either non-existent or very minimal.

5.  The large salmon that I do I dry using a fan fairly quickly in about a couple weeks, but then I let them hang for several more weeks just so that I am sure that they are not going to do any oil bleeding and if they do I can take further steps to alleviate the problem now instead of later when the client has the fish.

6.  If I was thinking of getting into doing fish taxidermy, I would do the same thing I did when I started, which was to research techniques and get my hands dirty trying them out.

7.  I am a fish taxidermist.  My first taxidermy project was a fish, and then I branched out into other areas.  I didnt have enough desire to improve myself with anything other than fish, so I stopped doing other animals and put all my effort into fish.  Working with fish makes me happy and I wouldnt rather be doing anything else.

8.  To get better at airbrushing it is helpful to practice doing various techniques from broad spraying to trying to control the paint in smaller and smaller areas.  That is a given, but the most important to me is to take a close look at your fish reference and to be able to see where on a fish it would be better to use an airbrush or a hand brush to better match the effect.  In my opinion, there are areas on a fish where an airbrush is not the best tool to match what nature has provided on the real fish.

9.  Brown Trout and Atlantic Salmon are very closely related being scientifically placed in the same Genus.  The differences however are there and can be identified by both visually and scientifically describing them, but what is important here is to note that they are very similar.

10.  Currently I dont have two standards, but I have toyed with the idea both in thought and practice in the past.  My experiences were not favorable from my perspective.  Id love to be able to NOT charge as much as I do or have the backlog that I do, but it is what it is and there doesnt seem to be an end in sight.  Im a lucky SOB I guess.  (I actually have more personal thoughts on this but it is not my intention to alienate my colleagues in the industry.  My business is my business, and just like my religion or politics, Ive gotten to the point that mine really doesnt have a place here.)
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jwj4856
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« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2006, 09:13:43 PM »

1) My prices are based on mine and my customers opinions of the quality of my work and what the market in this are will handle.

2) If given only one choice I will have to go with warm water skin mounts for 2 reasons, in this area we dont do that many cold water species and I love being able to take a fish and strip him down to nothing and put it back together and make it look alive.

3) It is a good idea to join the associations due to the shows and seminars are very educational and you can meet a lot of very nice and helpful folks along the way.

4) Probably 75% of my work comes from word of mouth, especially since the only advertisement I do is a small sign in fromt of my shop.

5) I have only done a very few salmon but the normal time to dry in this area is about 2 weeks, thjen watch another 2 weeks to check for any oil bleeding before finishing.

6) If you have not done any fish before I would say that you would need to get some kind of instructions from a good fish taxidermist first then you would need all your supplies and you can never have too many reference photos.

7) I am an all around taxidermist with the exception of not doing reptiles, but I think my best work is done on fish then followed by birds.

8) First you have got to have some natural talent with the airbrush and paint mixing, then you need to practice all you possibly can then a little more, practice in all phases of airbrushing such as line widths, spotting, blending colors, ets. Also practice with different air pressures and thicknesses of paints.

9) Other than pattern differences I would have to do some research since we dont get many of either in this area.

10) All my work is the same, almost all my competition pieces have been customer mounts, I prefer to carry customer mounts rather than do special mounts and spend enormous amounts of time on them so that I can learn how to better please my customers within the realm of time spent on customer mounts com[paired to special competition mounts.
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Double J Taxidermy
Shreveport, LA
Mark V.
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Chinook Salmon replica


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« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2006, 10:00:13 PM »

1. Why do you charge what you do for fish and how often should some one go up in there prices? Based on what I think my work is worth and in line for the area we reside in. We go up every 1-2 years.


2. If you had only one choice would you mount warm water fish, cold water fish or paint reproductions and why? Probably coldwater fish as I have always liked doing them and also trout and salmon are a favorite of mine to fish for myself.
 

3. Why would you join a state association? What would you be looking to get out of it for your taxidermy? A good learning experience for beginners as for seminars and such.


4. How much word of mouth business do you get as compared to other forums of business IE phone book etc? Because of being in the same location for 30 years and having so much repeat buisness I would say 50-60% is word of mouth and the other would be phone book listing. Also a very small percentage from internet.

5. How long do you let a salmon dry? 2-3 weeks depending on time of year. Summer run can take alot longer.

6. If you were thinking of getting in to doing fish taxidermy what would you need to do first to get started? I would get a few DVDs or videos to watch a few times to see if you still take an interest in doing so and try a simple specimen such as a bass to start out with. Maybe the first time around I would maybe get a kit.

7. What kind of a Taxidermist are you? Did you start out as an all around taxidermist doing all aspects of taxidermy and phased in to specializing? How did this happen and what made you decide to become a specialist? Share your thoughts on how and why you choice the path in taxidermy you did. IE; I do fish only or I do all taxidermy ands here is why... I basically started out doing all phases of taxidermy with most of it going into fish mounting as most of our buisness was fish at one time. The good old days I call it now. These days I still like doing fish the best but for 2 guys there just isn't enough to go around. My specialty now is mainly Big game Deer,Elk,Bear Etc. I would love to specialize in only fish as is where i feel the most profit lies but you have to eat so I enjoy the fish I am able to do in between.

8. What are 2 or 3 things a person could do to become a better at airbrushing fish? Tell us how you learned and what benefited your development. Practice and experiment would be the best way. Have a couple fish you don't care much for and paint and repaint. Get a feel for the brush and have patience.

9. What is the difference between a Brown trout (Salmo trutta) and the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salzar)? They look very similar. One thing I can see is maybe the male Atlantic has a larger kype than the brown but maybe Im crazy. The atlantic seems to be more streamline but then again maybe Im crazy. I really can't compare as I have only done 1 atlantic in my life LOL.

Bonus question 10
Do you have 2 standards for your work? If yes Why? Tell how you explain the difference and why there is one to a customer that show room quality is or may not be what you give as a standard of general work. My work is all the same no higher standards than the next. I always try to give customers top quality work everyday.
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