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What does a judge owe a competitor at a show?

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by Brian Reinertson, May 28, 2016.

  1. Brian Reinertson

    Brian Reinertson Well-Known Member

    Is he/she just paid to judge and put on a seminar and that's it? Or if they take points off should they tell how to fix it? I know some judges are judging their direct competitors and other big shows so why would they try to help if they are trying to beat them? I know this is only for masters level. Since I've been competing at this level I know folks won't go to shows because of who will judge them. Just trying to get some insight and spark an interesting discussion.
  2. James Marsico

    James Marsico Well-Known Member

    I believe a competitor is owed a critic; good, bad or whatever. A lot of time, effort, stress and money is spent. Otherwise you have wasted it all in my opinion. Blue ribbon or no ribbon. You learn and grow from a honest critic.

  3. antlerman

    antlerman NTA Life Member #0118

    Interesting question, so I'll try to contribute in an interesting way. LOL. Are judges human? Are judges bias? Are competitors always honest? Yes, yes, and no. Have we elevated the new judge based on his/her latest performance. Interestly I have been around long enough to see the judges from when I first began become old and not so large as they once were viewed to be. On the other hand I've seen a new crop attain some levels of respect amongst the old. Will competitors do things to attain levels that perhaps are ill gotten? Judging, as has been said many times is simply one guys opinion. There was once a time in my career where knowledge was water and I the guy dying of thirst. I couldn't learn enough. Then I became water logged by do it this way, no do it that way, no... my way is best. IMO, the good judges are those who know anatomy because techniques and style seems to be as diversified as the world populous. However, obtaining techniques is seldom unique. Most things are handed down or passed around. So isn't that really what a judge does a lot of the time? Share techniques. If so, which I think it is, then competitions are often opportunities to learn new techniques. But then comes the higher levels of competition, not only in the competition room, but also in the judges pool. Who amongst our current pool of judges is going to admit that someone else is better than they themselves? Ego's enter here. That's why once obtained, you seldom see someone who has reached star status re-enter the competition ring unless at a lesser show where they can elevate their ego's once again. What a travesty if they would loose? And who is worthy of judging them, or their work? Because as we all know, on any given day the outcome may be different. What an opportunity to say: Judge doesn't know what he's talking about. Sometimes I think there is more competition between judges than there is between competitors. Would judge A go to show xyz to have judge B find fault with his work? Not likely very often would that happen, but it sometimes does. So I think competitions need to be about camaraderie, learning, and socializing as much as competing. We are all competitors with each other on some level anyway. Sometimes that is driven by business market share, and sometimes driven by personal satisfaction. But whichever it is, we all have to realize we are mere guppies in this big ole ocean of life. We are all here one day and then gone the next. And once gone, soon forgotten and on our tombstones will be a dash between the beginning and the end. What that dash represents is up to you. What you take from a show, or what you contribute to a show is up to you. After all, it still is just an opinion. Who's opinion should matter the most, is your own based on what you want to obtain or contribute from going. But to answer the question directly; Yes, a judge owes a competitor a critique. After all, it is the competitor who is paying the judge's wages. And that is just my opinion which will fit somewhere on my dash.
  4. Wingnut

    Wingnut Member

    I've always felt that any and all competitors deserve the absolute best, that any and all judges can offer! I feel that it is, and always should be, that a judge should give his best in knowledge and ability to share his views to the contestant, and the score card has always been a map for the way the judge viewed and analyzed the competitor's work. The second layer of judging, should always be a face to face discussion of the score card, and the "why's" and "how's" of the score on the card, and how the judge came to those tabulations, and, respectively, the judge should share his concerns on how the contestant can improve and "better", if necessary, the competition piece. A judge should absolutely HELP the contestant, and share ideas and improvement techniques. The taxidermy field has improved tremendously through the past years, due to the State, Regional, National and World type competitions, and the sharing of ideas, completed competition pieces and friendships created at these venues has been an inspiration, to, hopefully, every taxidermist that has attended or viewed the competition areas. Judges work, and work very hard, during competitions, to correctly, and to their knowledge, accurately, depict information about the mount their viewing onto the score sheet, but, the "paperwork" is only part of their actions, as, a verbal overview should be a necessity within the judges criteria. Frequently, time allotted, doesn't always allow for this, but, it SHOULD! A judge should make herself/himself available at any time after awards are given, to ANY and ALL of the contestants that were judged, so that judging criteria and score cards can be discussed. But, once again, time allotted comes into play. But, judges should make the time, and take the time, to speak with contestant willing to have a conversation about their mounts! Most judges earn, through their reputations within the taxidermy community, seminars, and earned competition merits, the chance to judge a taxidermy competition by being ASKED to judge! No one walked into the taxidermy show, and stated, "Hey, I'm judging fish today!" The judges have been invited. Most, are respected within the "community", known for their past works and ethics, and are invited to attend and give their commentary on the entrants. Many contestants, that are excellent within their fields of work, never become judges, well, because they simply don't want to do this work. Not all men and women are created equal, some do have animosities and carry grudges, some just don't speak well in front of others, some, can't handle confrontation, while, others, can drop their shields, and stand, in front of a contender and speak well, and direct with understanding, their motive in judging the way they had, and, sometimes the judge can realize that they are viewing a piece of work, that, they themselves, couldn't create! Happens to me frequently, and it's one of the most fantastic works to view! Be it an amateur, new to the art, a commercial creation, heading out the shop door next week after the competition, or the Master's of Master's creativity, that is usually "Off the Charts", we, as judges, have to view ALL with the best of our intentions and knowledge! Judging an amateur's first woodduck creation, to viewing a thirty year veteran of the Arts display, should take the same seriousness and devotion, and these pieces, though very different, should be given every ounce of thought that the judge can muster! And, yes, the judges are absolutely at the competition for the competitors! And, well should be! I think the judging of the modern taxidermy field, has been an ever growing process, from the original single lined score cards, to the fabulous score cards of Simon's fine drawings, that is still growing and expanding today. Is the process perfect? Well, for today, it's the best we, as an industry, have developed. Are there problems? Perhaps, but, ever so small, and does personality come into play? Of course, but, I feel the competitions have one goal, and that is to unite and share, this wonderful taxidermy World that we enjoy, and I know, personally, that the competitions throughout the last forty years, have increased my knowledge, and enjoyment, and skills beyond my own "backyard"! Competitions and competitors, quite frankly, have excelled MY work to levels that, left to my own studio, would never have been achieved. I feel the future of the Taxidermy Competition is strong, and with the continued growth within the State and Regional communities, I look forward to viewing more competitions, and enjoying the "rejuvenation" that I feel, every time I see the wonderful mounts, the old friends, and the meeting of new acquaintances!
  5. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Like Tim, I've seen it from top to bottom and back up again. But let's just, for a second, look at it from OUTSIDE the industry. This happens everywhere in every walk of life. Whether you're a flat artist, a woodworker, or the garbage man, the "critique" you get is going to depend on two separate issues: the mood YOU are in and the mood THEY are in. Often times those change with the encounter. If you get a taxidermy judge who blows roses up your ass, you're going to say he's the best and toughest judge you've ever met. If he lays your liver on the table, he's a waste of oxygen. If you like him/her, you're either going to humbled or embarrassed if you score is high or low. If you don't like him/her, you may skip the encounter or you may just throw the critique away regardless of your rating.
    Most would agree that Ted Williams was as close to perfection as a baseball player could ever get, yet as a manager, he just plain sucked and never managed a winning team. Now that SHOULD tell you something about talent in one thing and not in another closely related thing, yet as my buddy Bill Yox once said, (I'm paraphrasing), "It's funny how this years champion becomes a judge at next years competition." Knowing how to do something is no guarantee that person can translate their performance into the performance of others. Age and experience have nothing to do with it.

    As far as a judge helping a fellow taxidermist improve, that's the suggestion that there are "secrets" in this industry. There aren't. Even if you scored low in a category with no critique, it should make you inquire - either to the judge or to someone else you might trust. Still, it's OPINION.

    A good teacher always insures that he teaches his students to be smarter than he is.
  6. Carolin Brak-Dolny

    Carolin Brak-Dolny Active Member

    "A good teacher always insures that he teaches his students to be smarter than he is."

    George that has got to be the most intelligent thing you have ever said!

    Judges and newly asked judges need to seriously consider that statement. Many judges get asked to be judges because they are very good at taxidermy, but do they really want to teach someone else to be as good as they are? Some judges get offended when questioned by the competitor during the critique. They get upset and angry if anyone dare question their judgement. They are usually our peers so a good teacher should be able to have a discussion with the competitor as to how they would fix the mistakes he found and why he found it to be wrong.
  7. jim tucker

    jim tucker Active Member

    To answer your question and not bloviate:

    The judge owes a competitor a fair assessment of his work to the best of his ability. They owe a courteous critique as well. TEACHING can go hand and hand with that , but to be honest, real TEACHING is tough to do in that situation, depending on the skill level of the competitor.
  8. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    OR the skill level of the JUDGE. These aren't geniuses by and large. "Just doesn't look right" is not something set in stone, especially if you're unable to explain what that "something" is.
  9. Brian Reinertson

    Brian Reinertson Well-Known Member

    Great responses so far. A reason I ask this is I hear there are some judges on the "circuit" right now that are pointing flaws and offer no input on how to make it "right" in their eyes. I just think it's kind of a ripoff to get dinged and get no advice on fixing it from a paid judge.

    Here is another interesting question. Put yourself in the judges shoes that has to judge a piece that has been to multiple shows and won. You have seen this piece in person at other shows now you have to judge it. You see problems and other pieces you like better, do you dare not have it win? Reputations mean a lot and if you are the guy who doesn't have it win, then you are a bad judge.. This puts a taxidermist who just brought a superior piece for the first time at a huge political disadvantage. I find this interesting after getting to know a lot of elite folks in this industry.
  10. antlerman

    antlerman NTA Life Member #0118

    Put yourself in the judges shoes that has to judge a piece that has been to multiple shows and won. You have seen this piece in person at other shows now you have to judge it. You see problems and other pieces you like better, do you dare not have it win?

    Some people have been known to wear a piece out for many years on the competition trail. WHY? I think a separate division needs to be where if you have won a Best of Show somewhere or a World Title, those pieces go into a separate category and judged by the people on a single first, second and third. Take the judges out of the equation and let the people decide which piece they like best. (See NTA Rules)
  11. John Janelli

    John Janelli New Member

    What if said competitor just wants to travel the "...competition trail" solely to support the clubs and induce growth as it was stated elsewhere in similar threads? In my opinion, criteria and standards must be the key guiding factors. There's no doubt that if a judge recognizes a particular mount, he or she also recognizes that particular artist. And there in enters opinionated judging, which is the bastard child of Criteria and Standards. Just my thoughts to an issue that haunted competitions from day one.
  12. Dan Gill

    Dan Gill New Member

    I always felt I owed the competitor everything I could share from the time the doors opened till they left the parking lot. I've critiqued in motel rooms before loading to go home, and in the parking lot. I tried to do hands on seminars where everyone could do it themselves. I would fill the page with critiques, pictures, and drawings. Then I would give the best ribbon I could justify. I judged a fair amount around 2003-2005. But I didn't keep winning so my opinion was not as sought after. I had a great time teaching and sharing. And meeting all the members at the shows. Yep, I messed up a few, and I'm not the best out there. But I had fun and hope those whom I judged had fun and learned something.
  13. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Well-Known Member

    Here's my two cents worth.

    What does a judge owe a competitor? To me it’s an odd question. The fact that it elicited so much in depth discussion tells a lot about the importance of competitions to association members who like to compete. A judge is contracted to the association, not to the competitors, to do a job. that is to give his opinion on the merits of the pieces in his assigned category. The competition committee then awards ribbons to the entries based on the scores the judge wrote on a scorecard. A judge doesn’t “owe” competitors anything.

    Whether it’s written in his contract or not, it’s simply a long standing tradition that the judge will remain available to critique any competitor on how he scored a certain mount if the competitor requests it. A judge has no obligation to provide a mini lecture to any competitor on how to improve his work next time. However judges generally do it, because they like helping people do better in the future. A critique also provides opportunity for the judge to assuage the feelings of those who don’t get blue ribbons. I’ve noticed that blue ribbon winners don’t usually ask for a critique. They’re most often quite content with a judge’s opinion of their work.

    If a competitor doesn’t like his score he always has the option of providing reference evidence to the judge which he relied on to interpret a certain feature a certain way. As a judge, I’ve personally been persuaded at least twice by sincere competitors and bumped up their scores when the evidence provided was compelling.

    The last option is a score protest. A protest allows the competitor to pay a second entry fee and have his mount re-judged by a different judge. That happened to me at least once whereby the alternate judge gave a higher score and moved the entry up to a blue ribbon. It didn’t bother me at all that the alternate judge had a different opinion of the entry than I did. It was a win-win all around.

    Perhaps it’s all about feelings in the end.
  14. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    LOL Joe. Well said. And we ALL know how we have to look out for those "feelings".
  15. Carolin Brak-Dolny

    Carolin Brak-Dolny Active Member

    As per Brian's second question.

    Just thinking about this seems like a bad situation . What if someone made a competition where only virgin mounts could be entered? Meaning the mount must NOT have been in a previous competition anywhere. When I attended the NTA last year, I think I had seen about 80% of the mounts before. It was disappointing, I was hoping to see more new mounts.
  16. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Well, instead of thinking that way, consider another venue. How about we not let teams work up to the Super Bowl or World Series? Ideally, competitions SHOULD vary in stringency from the state fairs to the World Championship. From the financial standpoint, it works great for the shows because everyone gets a piece of the pie from the entrant. I know many pieces go from the Nationals to the World while others go "all in" for the "big one".
  17. Old Fart

    Old Fart Active Member

    A judge "owes" a competitor his honest opinion. No more, no less. Sometimes it doesn't happen, but usually it's only the competator who "thinks" it doesn't happen. No judge "knows" everything about every fish or bird or whatever that they are being asked to judge. Accept that as fact and get over any "wrong" that you may think as been done you when you compete. Scheduling of show dates dictate whether a mount goes "up" to different shows or not. Putting a lot of time into a mount means that getting "different" opinions from different judges is the only way of getting your time and any benefit out of the mount.

    Now I remember why I haven't been here for a while. Same old questions.