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A few questions to ponder?

Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by Bryan Russell, Aug 19, 2018.

  1. Bryan Russell

    Bryan Russell Active Member

    Are all these videos (fish) Helping or hurting the business?
    Will fish taxidermy become almost all DIY? I myself am a tinkerer, I see a DIY video of lure making and i want to make lures. Does giving more and more novices a "helping hand" Dilute the industry or make it stronger? Back in the day you had to provide a business license to get a supply catolog, now customers go on supplier sites pick something out and tell you that's what they want, and they are privy to my pricing? Snap together fish mounts and DIY videos seems like a recipe to ruin this biz.
    I wonder about this a lot. I'm much closer to the end of my career than the beginning but it still concerns me. If someone ask me a question pertaining to molding and casting, I will provide a short answer to make them dig deep on their own, to actually learn.
    Is a video on how to paint each species more important that teaching how to transfer what you see to a canvas so to speak?
    I too toyed with the notion to make a video series on molding and casting, did I? NO!
    Why? Because of my dilution of the industry theory. AND the videos WILL get copied and RESOLD or given away to the next guy. How much $$ can you make on a video in a tiny industry anyway?
    Sotired likes this.
  2. Sotired

    Sotired Active Member

    Hey Bryan, You and I discussed this on the phone a while ago. No doubt the industry has changed. Indeed, the world as a whole has changed! So has doing business in general!

    If people think they want to try to do fish on their own, it's no skin off my nose either, since I too am retired. But as we discussed, there is a whole gamut of talent!!! Just because a person can see how to do it, doesn't mean they have the artistic talent to do it well, as you do! Just because a person learns how to pour a mold, for example, doesn't mean they have the knowledge of fish anatomy to lay it in the bedding in a realistic manner, plump it in the proper way, pour the material to avoid bubbles, etc.

    Painting? That separates the artists from the wanna be's! Only a few can pull it off well, others have a LOT of difficulty even with superior videos! To be good you have to understand all the hows and whys of color, tone, hue and value, as well as various methods of application to get various results. It's not a one trick pony! You don't go to the color store and get 'rainbow green', 'rainbow stripe red', rainbow spots', etc! Bass green, BAH!!!

    A true artist needs to be able to mix his/her own colors, roll with the punches when something doesn't go right, adapt to the situation presented! A lot more then can be learned in one video friend, but you and I are the dinosaurs, we taught ourselves through trial and error, mostly error! Today's people need instant information at their fingertips. the results of someone else's trials and errors. Right or wrong, I am not the one to say, but this is how it is. Gone are the days of apprenticeships.


  3. Kerby Ross

    Kerby Ross KSU - Class of '83; U.S. Army - Infantry (83-92)

    I would say that the majority of people that have bought Rick Krane's fish painting DVDs are taxidermists/artists, not fishermen (your customers). I have bought a few of Rick's DVDs in the past and they have taught me about colors, how to apply colors and different methods of applying colors. If anything they taught me to NOT use a paint schedule. Cole is now producing some DVDs and although I haven't purchased one, they do appear to be high quality with a lot of good info. Others have made VHS tapes, DVDs that you can purchase.

    When I started in 1975 our only source was old library books. a few correspondence courses and other taxidermists. Then associations started with information sharing, taxidermy magazines, then VHS tapes, then the Internet, then YouTube.

    The only time I had to provide proof that I was a taxidermist was from a tannery.

    Information sharing has changed. So .....



  4. Richs Taxidermy

    Richs Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I think the dvds help new people to get started,but dedication and artistic ability are what separates us,I can watch Bob Ross paint all day but still can't paint like him.
    Sotired likes this.
  5. Mudbat

    Mudbat Well-Known Member

    I’ve had numerous people ask why I charge what I charge after they have looked up a blank( not nessarily the one I was going to use) and saw the price. Those same people also think anything over 100 dollar profit is robbery. I always tell them to go do itthemselves. I will say I’ve never been part of any industry where just anyone can get a supply catalog. I used to be a leather smith and even those supply companies have one catalog for regular folks and one for those with a tax id number for their business.
    As a legit tax paying buisness we are getting screwed because I’m paying the same prices as jo blow I wanna make some extra cash on the side except I’ve gotta pay Uncle Sam at the end of the year
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
    Sotired likes this.
  6. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    The most appreciative customers that aren't concerned about price for me are the ones that have tried taxidermy using videos etc.

    I've always said if someone is going to be a serious taxidermist or competitor they are going to do it regardless of the obstacles. Conversely if someone does't have the ability to stay on task and learn it doesn't matter how easy you make it for them. And of course there's talent although I think some make too big a deal of it.
    Sotired likes this.
  7. Cole

    Cole Amateur Taxidermist

    Are videos going to dilute the industry? Is that a serious question? There have been taxidermy videos almost as long as there have been video cameras. Did Breakthrough magazine dilute the industry? There are literally hundreds of trade secrets in those publications. I can only assume this thread is at the very least in part because of the videos I have begun to produce, and will continue to produce. I will tell you this, one of the videos is a great series on mounting a competition wild turkey. Step by step...nothing left out. I was there in person, and filmed it for a week. I watched each scene at least a dozen times in post. Once finished editing, I watched it once more just to be sure I hadn't missed anything. It has made me a much better turkey taxidermist. That being said, if I put a bird together tomorrow and take it to a competition, I am going to get smoked. It did not make me a master turkey taxidermist. It only made me better...not great.

    The videos I am producing with some of the best taxidermists in the industry are just tools to help you learn, or get better. They aren't a magic pill. They are a tool used to improve. I find it laughable that people in this industry are upset at me for doing these videos. (Not anyone in this thread, but just what I've heard elsewhere) Many of the ones mad at me will judge shows, give seminars, etc., but when I do the same thing in a video I've crossed a line. What is the difference between a video and a seminar? The hypocrisy is ridiculous.

    I also love it when someone says "I could have made that video", or "I was going to do the same thing". Really? You think you just wake up and "make" a quality video? You've got $7000 worth of camera gear and lighting just laying around? Another $4000 worth of computer equipment and software sitting in your office? That isn't counting what it takes to become proficient at Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, Encore, Audition and any other software required to edit a DVD. Just like taxidermy, you don't just watch a tutorial and become an expert. It takes years...and honestly I still suck compared to guys that make a living at it.

    I will say this to everyone that thought "I should make a video on that", well, you should have because Bryan is right, the industry is tiny and I've already started gobbling up the market share. You think the molding/casting a fiberglass fish was too revealing...wait until you see what's coming down the line!
    JL, snag, JUST FISH and 11 others like this.
  8. Jimmy Lawrence

    Jimmy Lawrence Well-Known Member

    I'm going to veer off topic just a tiny bit, but it does have relevance to the subjected post. The absolute coolest thing to me since I got started in this is the old time Polytranspar Posters, and Paint Schedules that WASCO used to put out. They were HUGE and covered the step by step process of how he or she did that fish, and so on. To this day, that is my #1 goal to reach in Taxidermy from an industry standpoint. To be featured in a Polytranspar add in a magazine, or on the back of one, or whatever. They were made from the 70's or 80's through now. And they're by far my favorite part of looking at old magazines and stuff. Even now , when the work most do are better than what was featured. I would wager that back when Taxidermy Today/Insider/Breakthrough and all the others that have came and gone came out originally, they were met with resistance as Cole and I and others have for our DVDs. It was such a guarded secret for so long, and that's the way it should be etc, etc. To a point, I understand completely, and relate. But at the same time, eventually someone is going to do it, and make money off of it, and the rest of us are going to sit back and say, "remember when we thought of doing that" .... Cole and I have already thought of ideas like that, and not pulled the trigger, then watched someone else do it and "steal the thunder" so to speak... and we were just like...NEAT... remember when we talked about that.... could've been us. What Cole, Blake, myself, and whoever else that is going to be a part of Taxidermy U are doing, is no different than anything else that's been done for as Cole said, Years, and Years. Tom Sexton AtoZ is a step by step that tells you how to do EVERYTHING you need to do on a bass, and I watched it 15 years ago alone.

    Is it hurting or maybe not super smart financially to sell something on a DVD that you could get paid for a Workshop day for? Perhaps in a way. However, I've sold more DVD's than I ever have done Workshops, and reached far more audiences by doing so. Which I think is AMAZING . I will leave something like that for silly people like 17yr old me to find and watch, with the same burning passion I had watching Tom's video's, and the awful Jim Hall ones, as well. They might as well have been World Champions of today as far as I was concerned.

    As far as the piracy thing, You and I Bryan have had this conversation (today in fact) about Blanks being crooked, as I have with Ron Kelly, and many others. Bottom line is, whether you want something stolen or not, if someone wants it bad enough, they'll copy it. Blatantly so in some cases. I know probably the most profitable taxidermy studio in the history of taxidermy copied a friends work, and sells them publicly , without fear of repercussions. And it's not even somewhat altered.

    I don't believe in sharing every single thing you've learned, or worked hard for for profit, or for personal gain. But I know for a fact, if it hadn't been for that Tom Sexton VHS, I never would've gotten where I am today. I wouldn't have met the amazing people I have, worked for who I have, and so on . Everything in this world has a purpose to someone. The betterment and advancement or ease of access to information doesn't necessarily mean better for everyone.

    There have been videos on Molding and Casting on YouTube forever that cover the "dark arts" of it, and no one ever said a thing. The world is changing, not always for the better. Information can be dangerous and harmful to some but its simply a tool, and it matters how it's used and by whom.

    I think this very sight is a good example. You can find answers to literally almost any taxidermy related question on here, at the click of a button. Imagine where we as artists, and craftsmen would be if we had such advantages at all stages of our career.

    And like Cole said, I can watch Blake's DVD, or a Rick Carter Whitetail DVD 100 times , and still not be able to do the same results. It takes hard work, and talent, and actually doing the work , regardless of the advantages or resources we have at our fingertips.

    My fingers hurt now, Better go take a break.
    Jimmy Lawrence
    Taxidermy U!
    snag, JL, Cecil and 7 others like this.
  9. Pikeonthefly

    Pikeonthefly Active Member

    You all have made some great points. Speaking as one who loves the taxidermy industry and would love to be the next Jimmy Lawrence I don't have the time to spend that it would take to learn everything to provide a convincing paint job on any fish. And for those of you who can do it on a fiberglass blank? I think you have to be born with the artistic ability and not too many of us were. You can purchase all the videos you want and practice all you want and might be able to turn something out respectable but you either have it or you don't. A lot of people will purchase these videos and give up. I know I have a lot more respect for the industry and the artists after watching them. As for paint schedules if you were to follow them word for word you would soon discover they are just a baseline and have to be modified greatly to meet your expectations. The modifications come from little tidbits you pick up from videos/someone's blog or write up in Breakthrough or from the posts you read here where questions are asked. Videos aren't the answer. You need the encyclopedia gathered from everyone from the novice to the expert. Everyone has something to offer.
  10. jim tucker

    jim tucker Active Member

    Everyone can cook a hamburger, but everyone can't sell a hamburger.

    Instructional videos have no bearing on the lucrativenous of taxidermy.

    The biggest enemy to our way of life is ourselves and Urban sprawl.
    Glenn M, George, Cecil and 1 other person like this.
  11. Im not sure what im about to say is even relevant. But way back in the early 80’s. Dan Chase had probably the largest selection of VHS tapes available. I cant quote George R. But it went something like at some point you are set in your ways of doing things. Anyways i never botherd to buy/rent any of taxidermy videos the first few years. Down the road, As my mind became more intrigued with how someone else may do it. I pulled the trigger on three or four, or more. Watching i saw several things that made me go , Yea! gotta try that. Try I did and it worked good. But like George said it was really to late for me. I was set in my ways. Slowly gravitate back to my ways. Or think I could improve upon what they did. Worse watch it and think BS. , all that just aint nessary. Maybe ,maybe not, i dont know the answer to either 30 years later.
    I can guarantee you i could watch Rick K fish ,Ricks C deer today any wouldn’t use a single thing they do , even if i know its better, easier, more efficient, etc etc. Im set in my ways and my way is the absolute best for me!
    So dvds let them make them. There entertainment for a group of people that play with dead critters.
    I did enjoy watching ever single one!!
    Hell i might just buy one of coles just to say. BS that aint nessary, i can improve upon that, or maybe just maybe I gotta try that!
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018
    Sotired and 3bears like this.
  12. Sotired

    Sotired Active Member

    You never had one of my ex-wife's hamburgers obviously!o_O

    rogerswildlife likes this.
  13. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    I learned how to paint fish from those Dan Chase videos and learned a lot from John Rinehart's film strips. Of course I took it from there and kept learning. I think a person's head is in the wrong place if they worry about potential competition. I kind of wish I had more competition so I wouldn't be so buried! It it might help up my game and get me more motivated on those days I'm hesitant to bust my butt in the shop!

    BTW it would be neat to see what percentage of people that try taxidermy give it up rather quickly. And then those that decide to do it as a business that also give it up sometime down the road and get back into the job force. I'm betting the first is about 90 plus percent, and the latter is at least 50 percent. So if anyone's worried that these videos will hurt them I think they are worried about something they shouldn't be worried about.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2018
    JL likes this.
  14. You know Cecil there has been several time along my journey I wanted out of it. Couple of times even took that step. But I always wound up tight back where i was happiest. It just took stepping away a bit to relize that. Its so easy to get burnt out, busting your ass to get chit mounted and out the door and then it moves slow as hell out the door. Its enough to push you into getting out.
    Even now at times I want to say **** it and go get a job. But i know i would be miserable working for someone else.
    In 2000 I had enough of fighting slow pick ups, in a hurry customers. I thought i had found the perfect job, oil production in the gulf of mexico 14 on 14 off super great $$$
    I thought I could do both work my 14 days out there and do taxidemy my 14 home. Didn’t work out 14 days gone was a mental drain. when i got home didnt want to do nothing. Would wait till i had three days left and try to get something done in the shop.
    Did that for about two years . Then I realized taxidermy wasnt so bad. Got on the helicopter took my ass home and never regetted walking away from all that money.
    Taxidermy is a love and hate relationship . You just dont know what the relationship is from day to day sometimes hour to hour lol
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2018
    pir^2h and Cecil like this.
  15. Bryan Russell

    Bryan Russell Active Member

    How do I order a set? I don't use paypal.
    Sotired likes this.
  16. Bryan Russell

    Bryan Russell Active Member

    All I'll say about it is back when I was thinking of doing it I got a few straight up opinions from some of the older guys like myself. I've been innovating my own methods for over 40 years. I've been a replica only shop since 1996 so I have a LOT of skin in the game.Back in the day most of my business was local to me. Now most of it is shipped all over the place. The internet changed the game big time. After the last free video on molding a closed mouth crappie, i saw a lot of DIYers talking on fishing forums about doing their own mounts. Although they may not come out as good as a professionals work, it is nonetheless a job nobody will get. I never saw any value in training my competition.anyways?
    I guess when you actually had to learn from scratch each and every step and spend 10's of thousands on trial and error it's a bit annoying to see it freely given up for very little monetary gain. The video set should be $1,500 or more to separate the wannabes from the players. Really it makes no difference to my business either way as I'm established, but I see pop up guys in my area that watched a few videos and now they are experts competing as Cole said for market share. Most are part timers or hobbyists some go in and out of business but it all affects our industry which already has some major black eyes with the public. This somewhat ties into the bad reps of people disappearing with deposits, trophies etc. They can't handle the pressure. This is a very taxing and demanding business in and of itself.

    The only guys who think this info helps the industry are the ones who don't know how to do it. I have spoke to several people who paid their dues like myself and they don't like it either, why is that? I think because of the price they paid!
    But then again I don't like competitions either although I'm very competitive? (that's a whole other topic) To each his own.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2018
  17. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    I have so much business I just can't imagine someone picking up a video or two or more and being a threat to me. He or she will have do more than just viewing some videos. They'll have to pay their dues. LOL
    steward377, Lance.G, JL and 1 other person like this.
  18. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

    Bryan, I understand your point of view on this issue but, I'm not sure I agree with you, any more. Here's why, if people take their work to others, you didn't lose anything, it wasn't your's to begin with. You simply cannot take them all in and still have a decent turn around. I use to feel similar but have realized the exact things I just stated. I have even referred customers to another guy near me. These videos that folks like Cole is making may just end up teaching some non-taxidermists how to do what we do but, I don't think that they are marketing them towards those people. There is obviously a demand for them from the target market, or else they wouldn't even bother making them. I also believe that they can improve the taxidermy industry as a whole, by improving the work put out there. Instead of guessing how to do things, they give us a head start into whatever the topic is, so that we can expand our experiences, at a somewhat quicker pace. Just think of where you yourself may have gotten to if you had the head start? It has been said that many can watch these videos and never even get close to the same results.
    Lance.G and Jimmy Lawrence like this.
  19. Bryan, I use to think the same way you did. I was postive way back in the 80’s / 90’s all the videos would but all full time taxidermist out. I saw it like this if everybody that rented a video just did his family and close friends deer heads and thats all , say 10 deer. No big loss to the full timer right. But now there are 10 guys doing 10 each. Now we are at 100 heads gone from that full timer, that is a big deal infact its a break the business deal. But here i am in 2018 and still solvent, still getting 150 to 250 deer ever year. There has been a lot of folks left me during these years and lots of new folks walk in the door. And lots left and came back when their new guy couldn’t deliver.
    I still would rather , the available information (dvd) wasnt there so readily. But I come to realize it has no bearing at all on what I take in ever year. That is all me, it’s quality, turn around time, personality, cleanliness of shop, and a lobby full of what to expect to get back.
    I can’t count on both hands how many folks i saw watch some film , hung a sign, mounted a few, then took that sign down, out as fast as they went in.
    I have no problem saying talent will only get you so far . It takes a butt load of determination, and sacrifice to make a business out of taxidermy. Once established then with talent the sacrifices will minimize and it endures.
  20. Fallenscale

    Fallenscale Well-Known Member

    There nothing new under the sun.