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Have you regular fish gurus ran your numbers lately?

Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by hampshire, Feb 18, 2009.

  1. Pescado

    Pescado Biggest in 2011

    The general public is ineducable, period. They'll never see it they way we ( taxidermists) do, ever. They just do not get it or choose to get it. What is important to us, well most of us, they can not even comprehend. Go to a sport show and interact with these folks and you will see exactly where I'm coming from.

    Paul B
  2. jim tucker

    jim tucker Active Member

    What I meant was was it C&R LAWS where you live OR was it just the mindset of the people in your part of the country that caused you to lose fish business.

  3. LOL

    At least some of you guys have the mammal and bird mounts to fall back on.
    I wouldnt know how to start on a deer.

    The hairy side goes on the outside right???? ;D


    It takes me a while to paint my fish, but this is not only full time work, but its my hobby.
    So when I clock out for the day, I eat supper spend time with my wife and go right back into the studio.
    Put on some music lean back and paint until the wee hours of the morning.
    I get paid well for what I do and it pays all of my bills and allows me to save up as well.

    Just make sure you all are getting paid well enough for what you do.
    Another guys numbers mean nothing to you. Its your numbers that matter.

    I totally get where Gary is coming from.
    I am the type of guy who likes to focus hard on one thing for as long as I can, then one day poof! It may be on to another project in life.
    I dont see that day coming anytime soon, but I wont say it wont happen. Im no fool to promise that.
    It runs in my blood.

    My dad does it the same way.
    He got out of school and started working in our cities health department, he climbed the ranks and was happy, then one day he decided to become a social worker.
    Bam next thing you know he was working as a Social worker for years and my parents started taking in foster kids. Then they grew up and left and BAM!
    He decided to become a full time wildlife artist. 12 years later he decided he wanted to work with developmentally disabled. 10 years later BAM he decided he likes working with kids, and got his license as a day care teacher.
    Thats where he stands now. 68 years old and who knows whats next.

    Some people stick with one thing, and others decide life is like the sampler platter, why not take a taste of everything?

    So who knows.

    What I do know is I work hard at everything I do and I do it with all of my heart or I dont do it at all.
    I get paid for my work and savor every drop life gives me.

    As far as customers not knowing quality, ive said it before. They know if you teach them.
    and Man have I created some monsters!!
    The average guy might not know or care, but I dont do work for the average guy. So its not an issue.
    But dont judge customers based on appearance. People stay in groups of like minded people.
    You may be surprised at just how much some of these average guys really do want to know, and when they do they tell their friends.........

    Now all of this is meaningless if you rely on "Local" business.
    The days of hanging out a panel with your name on it and opening your door is done. The atmosphere is competitive but there is plenty of work to be had.
    The internet is the future and distance is meaningless now. (I know some of you doubt that, and I'm not sure what to tell you)

    All that rambling and all I am trying to say is charge what you need to. And love what you do.
  4. Jim, I have been approached to do "wholesale" fish for guys in my area. They wanted to keep THEIR name attached to my work. For this reason, I did not accept. I guess I don't understand why you would want to keep that hush hush but each situation is different I guess.
    As for making it in this business and what prices to charge...isn't it all just a mute/moot? point anyway???? EXAMPLE: If I make X amount of $ for the same size fish another fetches double that amount, but I can buy a gallon of milk for $1.99 yet another pays $3.98 or my monthly bills avg. $1.500 and another's averages $3000...OR my truck cost $18.000 and gets 26 mpg while another's cost $36.000 and gets only 13 mpg.....who enjoy's a more financially secure life style?????
  5. jim tucker

    jim tucker Active Member

    In order to succed at wholesale you must be able to leave your ego at the door.

    Most guys want "secrecy" because their customers are bringing stuff to THEM, and expect it to be done by them. If they bring it to MARC and MARC sends it to Jim Tucker.....then why not go to Jim Tucker in the first place.

    Problem is then maybe they decide to STAY with Jim Tucker for all their work.

    Most of my customers are guys who don't or cannot do decent fish. However they don't want to turn away customers.

    Like my wife who works for a local potato chip plant.....they make 90% Frito Lay products but nobody knows and FRITO doesn't want to advertise it.
  6. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Oh, I hear you loud and clear Jeff. I just don't think there is such a thing as "perfecting the art of taxidermy". There is no such thing as perfection and taxidermy isn't an Art - lol! Also, most of us are so far beyond what even the most critical customer will ever notice that I choose to be somewhere in the middle. Again, it's a personal choice as to who one wishes to market to - and to what level OCD one has - lol!

    Now, one thing you've mentioned is "you don't want to work for peanuts". Is that comment directed towards the type of customer base that you are uninterested in or is that comment directed towards the money to be made (or not to be made)? Because I'll tell you I believe there's some money to be made at all levels IF one has some business sense that is. If you're efficient at your process and can batch things like Jim states (because you have the numbers to do so), then (looking at the numbers several "higher-ends" have mentioned), I'd have to say I'm not doing as bad as I thought - lol! And as mentioned before, MOST that are making a living at the higher end crowd supplement with things other than fish. In your case it would be other forms of taxidermy. In fact, off-hand I can't think of a single fish-only taxidermist that CAN make it marketing to that highest-end crowd alone. There's always something supplementing these folks income to pay the bills. Or it's a labor of love and they don't have the bills that many of us have. Which is perfectly fine, I'm not knocking it. All I'm saying is there's just not much of a market out there for this type of work no matter how much you (try to) educate your potential customers. You can make that sales pitch all you want. But, that doesn't change the fact that you and most others need to do something else to make it doing these higher end mounts. Beautiful work no doubt and it's neat to see this level of talent being pursued. But, there's more peanuts to be made to the crowd that can't afford the Renoir' but instead must settle for one of his student's paintings instead...
  7. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Josh, the immediate future (with replicas) is to market nationally, agreed. But, I believe the real future down the line is in skin mounts and locally is fine. There's more and more skin mount taxidermists moving to replicas and/or getting out of the business altogether. Skin mounts still hold a higher value with most people and I'm sure as the amount of available quality skin mount taxi's go down, that supply and demand thing will really start to kick in. Of course, all of this is speculation, but I've been hearing more and more taxi's stating the same thing about their skin mount numbers getting higher. Who knows...
  8. I do actually agree with you on this part.
    The "Fish taxidermy" business is headed for a split skin and repro.

    Sadly I think a big reason is a lot of garage taxidermists are trying replicas thinking it will help their business.
    And a lot of these guys are producing fish that look like toys rather then a fish.
    The horrible craftsmanship i have been seeing from alot of these $6 an inch part timers is amazing.
    and that is giving the replicas a bad name to the general public.

    This is one thing I think we all can agree on.
    Our industry is in dire need of an Industry standard.
    The work quality is all over the board.

    I get emails from people asking for help painting a "X" fish stating they have never done one before, but thier customer wants it to look great. ????
    WHY are they taking customers when they dont have a clue what they are doing??
    this is a biggie for me and it drives me nuts.
  9. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Josh, I think a lot of it too is that ordering a ready to paint blank is an easier way to break into the industry vs. taking the time to learn how to produce a quality skin mount. And even at that, many that take the time still cannot produce a decent skin mount prior to the paint-job. But even with a fresh canvas, as you mentioned many find out really quickly that painting too takes time to learn. Personally, I see the industry going to more and more part-timers and hobbiests. The ones that can make it on fish will be marketing nationally with replicas or already have a strong customer base and solid reputation locally. Or they'll train or supplement their income in other ways. Heck, I'm doing more drafting lately than fish work. I didn't realize that I really enjoy drafting and there's really good money in it and it's a lot less stressful than running a Fish Business. I think the good money helps reduce some of that stress too! But, for years it was fish alone that helped pay the bills. It was not easy. I have to hand it to the folks that can run a full-time fish business and to be paid well enough to make ends meet, pay a mortgage, college tuition for their kids and still sock away some for retirement. Those are some very difficult things to accomplish in this industry...
  10. jim tucker

    jim tucker Active Member

    What I see as a major competitor are big companies selling finished blanks to OUR customers.

    Archie already has them available....I could see Van Dykes doing it and selling through the Cabela's catalog.

    Sure they won't take it all, but they could make a big dent.
  11. A- Fish

    A- Fish Stehling's Taxidermy

    There are very few people getting paid what there worth. It's no different in taxidermy. No matter what price you charge, you are going to have to work hard and put up with cash flow issues that all businesses face.

    As I mentioned earlier in the post, we expanded our business into other areas of taxidermy. It amazes me how much more willing people are to spend larger amounts of money on birds and games heads. People are taken back when
    I quote them $400 for a large northern skin mount, and have to "think about it" before they go with it., but $400 seems very reasonable for a deer head to them. Same with turkeys. I have been told my price of $600 for a full strut turkey is cheap, but the same people won't get that 45" muskey replica done. Anyone else notice this ?
  12. I think you're right about the out of the box, snap-tight blanks being produced.

    When people ask the best way to start doing replicas, Many say get a Wynia or other similar ready to paint fish. I always tell them to get one that requires a lot of work first and go from there.
    Taking the easy way out when you are learning builds bad habits and creates lazy craftsmen.
    Now after you know what you are doing then its fine to get the ready to paint ones.

    Taking the easy way is what has lead to the down fall of that good American craftsmanship we used to be proud of.
    but that's discussion for another thread. LOL

    I am lucky I have no kids and own a cheap tiny little house. lol
    with a BIG GARDEN!!! ;D

  13. I hear that all the time too.
    Here is my thinking on that.
    most fish mounts people see are really not that attractive looking. lol I hate to say it but its true. I am talking about the ones you see in bars and bait shops.
    Normally they are old and yellowed and people think of them more as a novelty then a "Trophy"
    When you say $400 they have an image of that yellowed old pike above their favorite bar and think you are nuts!
    I think its a mind set people have. I do think its going away, but it takes time.

    This is where we really need an industry standard.
    I would like to think the state associations help us here, but I know better then that.
  14. No kidding!!!
    This is another area where Associations should be up in arms about it!
    It makes me furious to see that crap.
  15. jim tucker

    jim tucker Active Member

    I do it all and notice the same thing.

    The reason is that a BIG BUCK has a higher percievfed value then a 45" musky. Most guys get ONE big deer in their lifetime if THAT. Fisherman get big ones more often.

    As well, Fisherman Catch & Release, hunter's do not have that luxury. Many big fish get let go.

    You see big deer getting sold for $$$$$ all the time. When's the last time you saw a record fish get $100,000. Never.

    Finally Hunter's are bigger braggard's. "Trophy Rooms" are the norm....Fish Trophy rooms are non-existent and even looked DOWN upon,,"Let em go, Let em Grow."

    Don't agree with it but that's what I see.

  16. MAN I LOVE IT!!!!!!!
  17. A- Fish

    A- Fish Stehling's Taxidermy

    You could be right on that Josh....but these people have been on our web site or been in the showroom, and compliment us on our work. I think Jim hit it right unfortunately . Thats how the fish biz is. Maybe change is coming...where have I heard that before ? lol
  18. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Actually Jeff, I think there's ONE person on this thread that has a thicker skull than I, but I'm not going to mention any names - lol!

    Yeah, "Compmercial Fish Taxidermy" Jeff for those that can't make it on fish alone - lol!

    Sometimes I think you push this higher end/higher horse crap simply so that you can sell TWO EYES and encourage folks to apply 9 layers of your liquid scales!!!! (Your secrets good with me though bud - lol!)
  19. Jeff Lumsden

    Jeff Lumsden Well-Known Member

    You go girl!
  20. jim tucker

    jim tucker Active Member

    BURN! Now THAT's funny....

    9 layers, now I know my problem...I only use one layer.

    You know Marty...we shouldn't be posting on this thread anyhow...it's for FISH GURU's not Joe Blows.