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Art background/schooling?

Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by greener, Jan 27, 2010.

  1. BVanKirk

    BVanKirk package deal

    my younger sister goes to AIP for video production, before that she went to kent state where i got my BFA in painting, and she took color theory at both schools (she didnt transfer her credits properly or something) and she said the classes were pretty much identical. 2d comp and color theory seem like they would be way helpful to anyone painting fish
  2. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Hmmm. So what do they give you when you "graduate" from PIT???

  3. When I graduate I'll get to keep the basic tools we've used, and all the supplies I have left over. I'll also have twenty mounts to put in my showroom, 7 fish including a reproduction, 6 birds and 7 mammals. I'll also be able to contact the instructors with any questions I ever have and since I am only 20 miles from the school, I'll be able to take any of my work there if I'm having a problem and they will help me figure it out. Most importantly, I'll have the education, and based on the work being produced in my area and some of what I've seen on the internet, the education is important. My work at my current level is better than the taxidermist that I used to use and he's been doing it for 20 plus years. The best part of the education was the business course. I've taken a few business classes, been to a couple seminars and have gone through a couple agencies before to try to start my own business and none of them prepared me like the business course from PIT.
  4. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Chris, this is a business of luxury for those with disposable cash. I make a living off that. What you get from PIT is no more than every rank beginners gets and then he can come here and find someone who's going to tell you that your instructor was FOS. If you think PIT is going to "prepare" you for business, I'm going to wait for you to come back here in 5 years and tell us how exact they were. Taxidermy "schools" for the most part are for gasoline asses intent on impressing someone with their "credentials from an ACCREDITED school". That and a buck will get you a cup of coffee. As for all those animals you "got", in two years if you're like most, your work will have improved and you'll want those things put out of sight by the customers visiting your "showroom". Education is paramount to any success story, but talent can't be taught by ANYONE. If I had a dollar for every PIT "student" who's contacted me, I might own WASCO today. I never attended any "school" and I can only imagine what the big named guys who are truly artisans have been asked.
  5. Exactly the response I figured I would get. I am well aware of the fact that this business is supported by those with disposable cash. I don't know what every rank beginner gets, but I don't see how they could be getting this education in this time frame. What exactly are they FOS about? I never stated that PIT prepared me for business, I did however state that they prepared me to start my own business. I am in the process of starting my business and without the business course from PIT I would have no understanding of why I am doing what I'm doing or what I really need to be doing. As far as impressing someone with my credentials from an ACCREDITED school, that accreditation allows me to get financial aid in the form of student loans or grants, if that impresses someone that's their business. That accreditation got me a grant for roughly $5,000, so that and a buck would get me roughly 5001 coffees. All the animals I "got", I hope in two years I have improved and do want them out of my "showroom". I'll still be keeping them because they are my first mounts, and I can guarantee you that they would not have been nearly as nice if I had done them without instruction from PIT.
    I'm having a little trouble following the last part of your post. "Education is paramount to any success story..." exactly, self taught or not. Talent can't show if there is no education, I could have taught my self taxidermy, but how long would it take me, how much would that cost me, and what would those first 20 mounts look like? I wouldn't have had the first clue where to start and I don't really learn to well from a video.
    I'll bite, why are PIT "students" contacting you, and what do you mean by your last sentence?

    Just out of curiosity, what did any of this have to do with color theory or an art background? I never once told anyone to go to PIT or that any of the classes at PIT were of any help. That is until you asked.

  6. James Marsico

    James Marsico Well-Known Member

    If you can take a drawing class at a community college it will open your eyes to a whole new world; you will see everything differently and it will improve your taxidermy. If you decide to go for a degree then plan for a career as a teacher or such with it and not taxidermy.
  7. BVanKirk

    BVanKirk package deal

    ummm why exactly? why not look at taxidermy as another fine art and be an artist
  8. hambone82

    hambone82 New Member

    I really enjoy the sculptural aspects of taxidermy. I think a greater understanding of fine art would help any taxedermist with this.
  9. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Well, let's be realistic here Bvankirk. Unless you're one of the few that could come up with something like that "plasticization" idea or whatever that stuffed human bodies deal is called, there's no "Fine Arts" future in taxidermy. Well, at the very least (statistically speaking) you'd have better odds making it via trying to break into the Major Leagues of baseball than you would exploring the Fine Arts side of taxidermy. And, there's not much money in taxidermy either. I'm sure I'll get pounded here, but again let's be realistic. Taxidermy is extremely labor-intensive. When you toss in the salaries and benefits you'd get from a real job - again I think Taxidermy loses out. Yes, there are exceptions, but it's not the norm. A 4+ year degree in Fine Arts just to do taxidermy is extreme overkill. Yes, it helps, no doubt. But, in todays dollars it is simply not cost-effective to spend $150K plus for a degree that yields you (maybe) a $40K or $50K a year job in taxidermy (and that's talking MANY years down the road). And if you don't have a spouse that works to get your benefits, that $40-$50K a year drops down to about $30-$40K a year.

    Actually a teacher would fit in very well. Great benefits and pension. 3+ months off to practice taxidermy. Not a bad deal. Personallly, I think the smart ones are the ones that approach taxidermy as a part-time job. JMO, let me have it - lol!
  10. Harum

    Harum Active Member

    You obviously are an intelligent individual and it appears you made the correct choice (for you) by attending PIT. I hope that you find it will aid in your success. I do however personally find your comment "Talent can't show if there is no education, I could have taught my self taxidermy, but how long would it take me, how much would that cost me, and what would those first 20 mounts look like?" to be rather stereotypical. I do hold a BFA and while attaining this degree I intensely studied color theory. I happen to agree with Bailey in that Taxidermy is simply another medium for me (you do however make some valid points Marty). I did teach myself Taxidermy. I painted four replicas then created my first skin mount. Cost was minimal until I decided to create a replica from the skin mount. After molding my skin mount for reproduction I entered the reproduction in the World Taxidermy Championship. I attained a second in World masters level. Take this however you wish but it is not always the same for each individual. By the way I enjoyed the 5001 coffee statement.

    The reason you see green when you add yellow to black is due to the reflective qualities of blue and by the ratio of blue in relation to the other primaries needed when creating Black. By adding yellow to this balance of the primaries the reflective qualities of blue start to show and you see green. It is this same balance of the primaries that allows old fart to mix blue into his brown to create black. By the way I find black paint very useful in my painting, one just needs to understand how it works.

    You've received some great insight into your question. I will just add that each individual is unique therefore some will benefit from an art education and some will not. A class on color theory and composition would be my recommendation. A full blown education in art however would probably be overkill.
  11. BVanKirk

    BVanKirk package deal

    LOL trust me theres no 'fine arts' future in the kind of painting i do either, but that isnt going to stop me from painting the way i do. i dont care if i never make a dime off of my work, as long as im able to paint the way id like.i work full time selling art supplies helping people get started, learning from professionals, and experimenting with products in my own free time in the studio... thats as close to a teacher id ever like to be. my mom taught jr high and high school art for 20 years so i know i would hate it, i lived through her vicariously and no thanks. besides, it wouldnt afford me the time to try something new... like taxidermy.
  12. I'm looking at taxidermy as another art form also. It's one that I would like to make some money at though. I'm also a photographer and have messed with some paints from time to time. In highschool I thought I needed to make a million dollars and tried that going to school for environmental science and pre vet. It didn't take long to realize that it wasn't going to be fun for me. So after working construction for a while I decided to pursue what would make me happy... Art and the outdoors, taxidermy incorporates both. Income for me is only important for covering the basics, after that, peace of mind is most important.

  13. i have to agree with some that some form of art class/ worshops can be helpfull, however i only do fish. currently i am enrolled in a Watercolors painting class, color theory, color mixing and different brush techniques. its opening my eyes to alot of creativity for fish painting. one other class i am going to enroll in this summer is a basic sculpting class, i am really hoping this class will help me with carving and rebuilding
  14. While I'm not a fish person I believe in a couple things...

    1. You are First a Business person, second a taxidermist... Before I would go out and spend money on tuition for art classes I would spend that money on Business managament/accounting classes... it will get you WAY further.

    2. Art Background helps.... Even from the highschool level. If you learn how colors work, different sculpting techniques, how materials act, sculpting, photography and 2-D Arts you will not only be able to help yourself on the taxidermy side, but it will also help you with advertising, marketing, composition, and other aspects of business you haven't even thought of.

    There is a certain amount of "memory" that comes with an artbackground... You can see it when you watch someone who has worked with clay as an artist, and someone who has only worked with clay as a taxidermist. The untrained taxidermist goes about it very akwardly and then wonders why it doesn't look right... The artist knows how to even it up, handle the clay and make it do what he wants it to do.

    I believe you must be atleast somewhat truely artistic before you can become great... Look at the current revolution in our industry... Dennis makes his techniques public and everybody trys them, Only a FEW truely artistic people are gonna pull off a truely great "Air" mount... The rest are just gonna be average and some... like the current mix of "taxidermists"... are gonna be horrible... Some things just can't be learned by some people...
  15. mtnfish

    mtnfish New Member

    I say go to taxidermy school to learn how to do taxidermy, not art school.
  16. BVanKirk

    BVanKirk package deal

    imo it doesnt have to be so black and white
  17. This is an interesting thread.

    Good insight from both sides of the line.
    I personally am looking at my taxidermy similarly to Pete and Bailey. This is art for me, I have taken what I learned in school and in my earlier art career and am using it all here.
    I find ways to challenge myself and widen my skills.

    Bailey I have to say I think there is a venue for your paintings in the fine art world. You will be battling PETA at every turn, but since when has Art not been on the fringe of general acceptance.
    I can see your work in galleries in New York down the road.

    There are Artists who are doing similar work to yours and they are doing well in the fine art world.
    Wade Schumann and Odd Nerdrum come to mind (Although Mr. Nerdrums work is a bit over the top and he is Bat $hit CRAZY!) lol But both of them are actually very talented Taxidermists besides.
    A good friend of mine in New York is also doing similar work although it is more skull and insect based.
    There is a market for art, and all you need to do is find galleries who are looking.

    I am currently working on a 3 year project to get back into the "Art world" This project will ultimately end in a show with over 30 pieces all are taxidermy related. I have several galleries I am working with to set this up, and it WILL happen.
    Its a hard line to get into for sure, and I am a bit of an outcast in my own world. Too "Artsy" for the taxidermy world and too "Redneck" for the art world.
    But there is a market and it is virtually untapped.
    That said you don't become an artist for the market, you do it because you have to and if you don't you will go mad. Its about passion and drive bordering on primal necessity.

    As far as taxidermy being labor intensive. Yes.... but that doesn't mean "Art" is less labor intensive. Its all about the medium you use, to me the fish is my new medium. More and more frequently i am finding my taxidermy customers choosing the more artistic pieces over the more traditional, and those pieces often sell for much more and make me much happier to make. Win win.
    So I guess do what makes you happy.
    Right now I am pleased I make a living doing what I love to do, how can any of that be wrong?

    As far as color theory and color here is something interesting about it.

    Color is a myth.

    It doesn't exist, in the physical world. Color is nothing more then the movement of light and your brain interpreting that movement.
    Thats not to say there aren't rules that need to be followed to get a brain to what you want it to see.

    A good color theory class will teach you about overlapping colors as well as using complementary colors to accentuate other colors.
    The main reason they tell you to get rid of black is to teach you to make your own black, and with high quality paints you can make a beautiful black.
    The issue is its harder and harder to find quality paints these days. The blues and browns you use to make a rich black normally are pigments floating in a medium, that medium is normally not a clear medium, but a milky medium.
    This makes it very very hard to get a true deep black but rather an "off black" However most black paints are mixed with a clear medium and are normally charcoal based, this gives a truer black that you can often mix.
    Again if paint quality was very high then yes mix away.
    I also make my Olive greens by mixing black and yellow ocher. It gives me a lovely deep and very rich green that is hard to match with a premixed green.

    I wanted to throw up a few pictures of a fish I am working on. That shows what I was talking about by starting with a blue base then working other colors on top.

    Here is a muskie I am working on. This was my second step after priming, ultramarine blue details and patterns. The dark blues will ultimately be turned into dusky blacks after the colors are layered.



    And here it is after layering red and yellow over the blue base. The only colors I have used and will probably use on the whole fish is Yellow ocher, Cad red, Ultramarine blue, Black and white. and also a pearl base for my metallic.




    I will keep going over this with washes and coats of clear to build depth.
    The effect you get by layering translucent tints of colors will be far more vibrant and deep then using premixed colors applied more solidly.

    Just remember there is no color, only your mind in the darkness getting information from cells in your eyes telling your mind to make a color from nothing but a vibration of a light wave.
    Kinda trippy when you really think about it.

    Greener, out of personal curiosity what does your Wife think about this thread? :D
  18. BVanKirk

    BVanKirk package deal

    well said about color being tromp l'oielle josh
  19. Harum

    Harum Active Member

    I wanted to address a post that followed mine last night and then shortly there after deleted. In this post the individual questioned my statement that I taught myself taxidermy, implying that I was given insight by a well respected individual that lives in my region. The post then suggested that if I did learn the trade by myself that I have done quite well with such little experience. Well, as far as learning this myself. Yes I did as it was important to me to do just that. Besides I would not have stated this if it wasn't true. I understand the desire to associate an individual that has never been heard of before with a well known individual as this has always been the practice in the art world. Nothing new to me. After that first fish was completed I happily excepted the help and insight from key individuals that happen to be well respected in this industry. I also shared the knowledge I posses from years in the art world. That brings up the other statement of the deleted post. My experience is with art and by having this experience I am able to approach taxidermy as simply another art form or medium. To suggest that I have little experience is rather insulting. When I approach any art project I spend an enormous amount of time studying the subject. Understanding the subject inside and out. Ichthyology is no different.


    Very well stated post. Your progression pictures show how well the knowledge of the reflection of light (color) will aid an individuals ability to painting fish. Fish is looking great!

  20. GBRUCH

    GBRUCH "I am nothing without christ".....John 15:5

    Wow Pete your quick with finding deleted posts :eek:---I deleted it so as not to insult you but I guess that didn't happen.

    I think I have a history of insulting you although I never mean too.