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Two separate fish categories???

Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by FishArt, Dec 2, 2008.

  1. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    I REALLY think this website needs to have two separate fish categories. One for Commercial Fish Taxidermy and another for Competitions and Museum Quality Fish Taxidermy. There is SO much advice in one category right now that it could be quite confusing to many newbies and even some experienced fish taxidermists. So much of this info is applicable to one market and not applicable at all to another. SO MUCH TIME is put into some of these highly detailed mounts that it really has no place in the Commercial World. Some folks on here have to spend upwards of 20-25 hours painting a single bass to get the detail I'm seeing. Maybe more! Then, they post about high quality and obviously their definition isn't in alignment with many of us that actually do commercial taxidermy full time for a living. It's fun to look at and see how great some of these people can push the envelope. But, many people don't realize that these folks that put in this super high detail are supplementing their income elsewhere because they cannot get enough customers to pay the price they need to be fairly compensated for all that time. Again, don't get me wrong - I LOVE to see all the great fish work that some of you folks are capable of doing. But, I don't think there's a single one of you out there that can put this much time into a single mount and actually live off of this income ALONE. Am I wrong here?

    I guess one could then say "why not a Competition category for all forms of taxidermy?" Too many topics? I don't think so. But it seems to me that there should be a separation between the two because they are two different beasts.

    Any thoughts?
  2. Perhaps, but to be fair not everyone who is doing competition quality work or High end work is supplementing their income elsewhere.
    Some are putting extra time and getting paid well for it.

    personally I dont think there should be a separation between the two.
    There are fast tips that can be learned from the higher end work that are easy to do in commercial quality work.

  3. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    But Josh, are these folks that aren't supplementing their income:

    1) Working reasonable hours and being compensated fairly for each and every hour?
    2) Acquiring enough of this work to make a living at it?


    3) Running a full service shop?

    The big shops that do this high end stuff typically make their money on non-fish species. And, they are diversified enough (with species that they taxi) where they don't need to take in 75-100+ fish to make a living.

    Going off the top of my head Josh, I'd have to say you are the only one that I can think of that produces the higher quality stuff I'm talking about that also doesn't supplement his income with something else - correct? So, I guess the next question would be - have you ever kept close track of your hours you spend on some of these fish? Or is that one of those things that you don't want to know??? LOL!
  4. No I keep track of my hours, I get paid well enough for my time.
    But I suppose i do get some of my Income from molds and blanks.

    The thing is Like I said some of these tips and techniques are more tricks then time related.
    you just have to have the smarts to know what you want to implement in your work that you learned from the higher end work.

    Like the pencil trick, they make those pencils in metallics. you can in 15 minutes graze over a trout or salmon and tip the whole thing.
    Its not as detailed as a competition piece but its better then not tipping, and for that extra 15 minutes you charge a tad extra.

    The higher the quality the better the pay.

    One thing I have learned is in general local customers are not worth it.
    THey stop in look at your work, chat and leave. then come back and look around..........
    They think they can come and go and drop off work at any point.
    Once they meet you they think you and their buddy and then always get bold and ask for discounts.....

    But dealing with people at range via the Internet or phone. People worry about taking up your time. You are a mystery to them and that makes them MORE willing to pay for higher end work.

    Locals are always looking for deals.

    I also don't use price lists on my website, that helps as well.
    They have to call ME to find out.

    Its funny around me as the industry standard for Deer and Game heads has increased so have the prices for these.
    yet fish in my area have stagnated in value.

    The reason is quality.
    these local guys are archaic in their methods and it shows.
    there is a guy near me who get $6 an inch for fish yet.
    thats unreal to me.
    You get what you pay for but still.
    Our Industry standard for quality has not really changed in the publics eye.
  5. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    I do a lot of scale tipping via the finger rubbing method. However, with a walleye I HAVE to get the hand brushes out. It's an extra 75-90 minutes I need to put in to acquire the finish I'm looking for. But, an extra hour and a half is nowhere near what some of these folks are spending on the details. Around here, it's not too hard to make my work stand out from the others with just a little bit of extra time. And I honestly think that the bulk of the customers out there wouldn't notice the difference between an above average, slightly detailed fish vs. a competition quality paint job. You'd have to hang both fish next to each other and go over the differences with many customers for them to see it.

    There is very little demand for the high end stuff around here (believe it or not). In fact, lately there is no market PERIOD - lol! I took in one whole fish last month and it was a restore job on a Wahoo!
  6. thats what I am talking about local.

    Local business in my area is DEAD! but internet is doing fine.

    The thing is the customer might not outright notice the difference but they will notice its better.
    you need to sell it to them get in there and show them the details spend a bit of time with the customer doing this and it pays off.
    They will show their friends the details and then look at mounts their friends have, when they notice their friends bass doesnt have these details they will let them know. the friend will want to one up them and demand these details on the next mount.
    Its all about selling it.

    they will notice the improvement.

    I have a few customers that I go fishing with, and its great now they are holding their fish right out of the water and looking at all the color and details.
    They see it now and dont mind paying for it.
    I had one guy take a ROLL of referance shots of his bluegill for me. 35 pictures of fins and scales details most customers dont notice, but once you show them they will notice. You dont let them leave until they notice it.
  7. Jeff Lumsden

    Jeff Lumsden Well-Known Member

    "many people don't realize that these folks that put in this super high detail are supplementing their income elsewhere because they cannot get enough customers to pay the price they need to be fairly compensated."

    And apparently your "commercial " taxidermy business as well! So how is splitting the net into two groups going to help exactly?
  8. Marty & Josh...just curious, do your wives work ? (Nurse, teacher, etc.)
    Would your income thru taxidermy / Repro fish, be supplemental or would hers be considered "supplemental"...?
    Do many taxidermists make say $50,000.-$60,000. ..similar to skilled trades (mechanic, Electrician, plumber, etc.)
    I'm not making a statement one way or the other..just curious.
    Now I would imagine some of the "Big name" guys on here do..especially those that teach or have Products in the major Catalogs. But what about the average taxi guy that works out of his basement or out building ?
  9. Cole

    Cole Amateur Taxidermist

    No separate category needed, IMO. First off, the fish category doesn't see nearly as much traffic as others, so there is plenty of room for comp. and comm. stuff. Secondly, competition mounts (whether fish, mammal, gamehead, etc.) be it yours or someone else's, are great ways to open the mind to new ideas and techniques. Like Josh said, some of the tricks don't take that much time to do, it just takes knowing how to do them. I think comp. and comm. taxidermy go hand in hand together. I practice competition techniques all the time on commercial jobs, and I've also changed the way I do some things on commercial mounts because of what I have learned competing. I agree you can't spend 24 hours on a commercial paint job, but that's about what I had in my LMB paintjob at our last show, and my customers can't tell the difference between it and a standard paintjob, because of the tricks I learned doing it. Of course you or I can tell the difference, but it shouldn't be glaring.
  10. I think what he is talking about is, buy showing "commercial" work next to "competition" work (GOD I HATE LABELS) we are setting the bar too high.

    I do understand the point, but my view is you don't teach someone to do lower quality work, you teach them to do the best work and they can decide what shortcuts they should take on their own.

    If anyone can do High end work and get compensated for it then ROCK ON! if you need to take shortcuts to make it more profitable its not that hard to do.

    Its easy to do the limbo when the bar is ten feet above you. :-\
  11. That is a good point.
    My wife does work.
    I could live off of what I make if I were single lol I did in fact for many years, I paid my way through college with full time taxidermy.
    but with married life comes a desired higher standard of living. lol
    I would be better off if I were a plumber.
  12. "That is a good point.
    My wife does work.
    I could live off of what I make if I were single lol I did in fact for many years, I paid my way through college with full time taxidermy.
    but with married life comes a desired higher standard of living. lol
    I would be better off if I were a plumber.

    Thanks for your honest response ! I know what you mean about the plumber. I have a friend who is a union plumber and he gets over $30. / hr. ..makes very good income.
    Sorry ..I lost the focus of the two category debate. I would keep all fish related together, otherwise, where do you stop. Competition/ Commercial / Reproductions / Skin etc.
  13. I do make more now then I did when I had a regular 9-5 full time job.
    and my business is growing at this point.

    I was a full time taxidermist for 7 years then went to school full time and got out of it.
    Ive been back in for the last 2 years.

    Truth be told though id rather teach taxidermy then mount fish for customers, I enjoy doing the work but teach is much more fun for me.
  14. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    LOL Jeff - so TRUE lately!!!

    I don't know if it's going to help or make things more difficult. Finding a cut-off point between the two would be the main problem. It probably wouldn't work, but I thought I'd just toss it out there to see other's thoughts on the subject to see if maybe it could work. Personally, I would check both forums if it were to change. I'm one of those fairly organized people and to me this would be the proper, tidy way to file things. In my mind there is a definite distinction between the two end products. And, yes the higher end stuff is going to be where all the new tricks are learned. But, most wouldn't be practical in the commercial arena. I guess another question/problem would be (as the bar has been and continues to be raised) "what defines commercial fish taxidermy"? This is a very gray/confusing area these days! Where's the bar going to stop? What will the market allow? All sorts of logistics that would probably be too difficult to overcome and organize things logically - nevermind - lol!

    Dondi - some more gray areas eh??? lol! In my mind, I would consider any income outside of performing actual taxidermy work "supplemental". I would indeed consider the sale of fish blanks by Josh supplemental income. But, that's just me trying to make everything nice and tidy! Since most households now have two bread-winners, my spouses income is a given. But, I see what you're saying here. Some of us may have the luxury of actually only working part-time due to our spouses having killer jobs!

    But, I digress. The real point of this topic was to see if it would be practical to make two categories. I can see a need to do so because I think a lot of this super high-end stuff is misleading to newbies especially. Most of it simply doesn't apply in the real world...

    BTW, I guess I have supplemental income from my drafting. BUT, this only started in the last year or so. I was still running my fulltime taxi business. But, again - I digress. The supplemental income comment was really made to make a point that most cannot make it on fish taxi alone at the high end level.
  15. Another issue is whats easy for some is hard for others...

    Custom cast heads and fins for example.

    The time it takes me to mold and cast a head for a skin mount. is nothing compared to what it takes for me to clean a head rebuild it and fit it to the form.
    same with fins.
    Most of my fins are cast. its just so much faster for me this way.

    but for some people molding a head and fins is not worth their time, for me however I cant afford to skin the head and dry fins. it just takes me too long to do.
    plus I find it very very annoying.

  16. Who are "these folks" that are so confused?

    I'm so glad this fish section has what it has. I like learning as much as possible. For those that don't like doing the higher end work they don't have to read the posts for higher end work.

    My view is this. Charge what you want to charge, whether it's $10 per inch or $20 per inch. If you and your customers are happy then good. If not then you need to up your work or drop your prices.

    I choose to charge more but to offer more too. I take my time and do the best possible work I can. I'm happy with what I make and my customers are happy with what they get. Bottom line is you get what you pay for.

    If some one chooses to do "commercial work" then here's a tip: don't do top quality work for commercial prices and don't read posts for higher end work. Pretty simple.

    No need for two sections.
  17. Here I am ;D

    Marty you've sprayed enough laquer today. Time to take a break, clear your head, a re-read what you wrote. :p
  18. Monty Artrip

    Monty Artrip Active Member

    I don't know about this one. I feel that a lot of the tecniques used by the the top end guys have been very instrumental in the improvements I have made. I incorporate a lot of comp tricks into my commercial work, although not on the same level of intensity or time spent. I do feel that the big names have been very generous with information and have yet to meet one of them unwilling to share what they know. We are very fortunate to be able to access this information.
  19. duxdog

    duxdog Active Member

  20. Jeff Lumsden

    Jeff Lumsden Well-Known Member

    Neither commercial or competition work are stagnant, both will keep evolving as long as we have interest for our art.

    I can remember when casting fish heads was for "COMPETITION"only! And your scale tipping techniques came from competition minded taxidermists as well. Marty from the sound of it you wouldn't have ventured into these techniques on your own but now you incorporate them in your "commercial" work. Competitions are what keep us alive, the trickle down is immeasurable. No one has to try anything they see or read here, but those who want to experiment, stretch their capabilities or explore their talents sure have a great opportunity. This is a good thing for everyone.