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Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by George, Mar 25, 2019.
A pair of sun glasses will fix that one Dave
A commercial service business of any kind is a relationship between the business owner and the customer. There will be as many opinions as there are business owners ,but if the customer is happy with the product - service and the business owner is pleased with his results, who cares what others in the industry think. There are many taxidermists who are very successful business owners who put out marginal quality work their whole careers but leave a long trail of satisfied customers and retire comfortably.
Taxidermist have spent way too much time worrying about what other taxidermists think and not learning how to run a successful business , thats one of many reasons they fail in taxidermy.
Well said Jerry!
Before some of you fall off the scale, the QUESTION was about TAXIDERMY and not business. I know more than a few superb taxidermy artists who don't know squat about business and have the bedside manner of a snake. I was talking about the difference between "commercial" taxidermy and "professional" taxidermy. Now if what I've heard so far is the "standard" then it's pretty obvious that the "standard scale" is in flux and that we should be content in that name being inclusive. I understand that some people like velvet Elvis paintings. I, personally, have clients who tell me they don't pay any attention to my work as all they look at is "them horns".
You listen to your family you'll always be the a great taxidermist
Actually George, your original question was "what is the definition of commercial taxidermy". Commercial taxidermy is just that, taxidermy done commercially (for money). That makes the question about business as much as anything. Any taxidermy that is paid for is commercial taxidermy, no matter the quality. As for the difference between "commercial" and "professional", hell if I know. To me they are the same. One is done for money, and one is done as a profession (to make money).
I must be a professional taxidermist then. I dont get paid for mounts, i do this as a hobby, and keep everything i mount.
I actually see the very fine minute details, and criticize them. One teensie little thing wrong with my work, and it will eat at me every time i look at or think about that mount. That in no way means i am professional, but i definitely criticize myself harshly.
That racoon looks like a kids toy
Tough question...I'm pondering over it. A professional generally derives all his income from his profession. Very few taxidermists ever reach this level. The professional does commercial work. The quality of that work can range from what we call "commercial pieces" to "competition pieces". All this depends on what the customer wants to pay the professional for his/her time and skill.
mostly ones personal perception.. lets say you need your car worked on. is the guy working in his driveway on cars any less a professional than you taking your car to the dealer to have the work done? the dealer has tons of certificates boasting their workers have all the credentials. the driveway guy more than likely nothing hanging on the side of his house. he might be just as talented. who does professional work and who is just cranking out commercial ok work. each customer will be the judge and each will have a different opinion.
If customers ever went to a Taxidermy show many of us would be out of business.
I cannot argue that commercial taxidermy actually has standards per se, mostly because there is no credible national institutional agency that ‘certifies’ commercial practitioners in skill levels and product quality. However, successful operators more often have high ‘shop standards.’ It is also thanks to supply companies and competitions that commercial taxidermists have been enabled and encouraged to produce a high standard of commercial work like what was once the principal domain of the old Jonas Bros., the Schwartz Studio, and numerous companies long gone whose names are never heard of anymore.
Taxidermy is a service occupation made up entirely of individual proprietors who don’t franchise their businesses. Such ‘companies’ don’t mass produce a product line of marketable merchandise, then sell at wholesale to a Walmart to be bought off the shelf. While people who operate a successful taxidermy business are certainly ‘industrious’, the word ‘industry’ to me applies only in a very broad sense. On the other hand, the taxidermy supply industry is an actual industry in that it mass produces and sells through catalogs and national outlets. Except for the large commercial businesses which gross in the high 6 and 7 figure incomes, this ‘industry’ is perhaps broadly comparable to a cottage industry.
Many commercial taxidermists can be and often are artists, but the majority are not professional artists like flat artists and sculptors who work full time at their work and market it through galleries, for instance. And I would also surmise that a large percentage are not likely professional taxidermists either. By ‘professional’ I mean those who make more than 50% of their living directly from commercial taxidermy, as joeym has observed in post #31 above. While the word ‘professional’ usually connotes a high skill level in most ‘professions’ it’s the ‘unprofessional’ quality that bugs all who do good work but must also share the collective label of taxidermist with those who have no particular (or low) standards. Full-timers resent ‘hack’ work done only for money that reflects poorly on the image of the art and reputations of real taxidermists. Define ‘real’ however you wish.
Compared to commercial taxidermy studios, museums could be said to have a different clientele but it’s museums that have always been the touchstone of the art of taxidermy. It is our particularly large museums which have set the standards for scientific, educational and especially artistic presentation which invariably bled into the commercial field when it was profitable to do so and not vice versa.
Furthermore, museum storage rooms are full of indifferent and mediocre donated commercial taxidermy work which doesn’t meet the high standards of museums. The main reason I think people donate even whole collections of trophy mounts, regardless of quality, is because it allows donors to claim a tax deduction while unloading unwanted taxidermy after dad dies and his heirs want to be rid of it. The reason museums accept some of those collections is mostly because the donors may have connections with museum directors or trustees. Those collections never have scientific value because they never carry records like date, time, location of collection, physical dimensions and condition of the carcass… etc. And unlike exceptional fine art such as paintings and sculptures which tend to increase in value with time, the after-market for commercial taxidermy has never been hot since second hand taxidermy mostly depreciates in value.
If you want to see consistently truly fine taxidermy work, you’ll find it consistently in our best museums and not in commercial studios. John Ruskin, noted artist, art teacher and art critic, once wrote: "The best work never was and never will be done for money."
I think most agree that there is only one common denominator among commercial taxidermists. That is that taxidermy has an allure as an attractive way to make money, whether one prospers at it or not. J. W. Elwood used the words ‘profitable hobby’ in his market advertising for his Northwestern School of Taxidermy with success. But it’s still up to the buyer to beware.
Where do I fit on that scale, George? I’ve never been asked the question before and never thought about it till you asked. That your post is enjoying such fast rising viewership is indicative of the importance of the subject in the minds of all who respond. We all need some affirmation that what we do is valuable on some level, and discussions like you initiated here is a good way to provide it.
Dave I honestly don't think so. I think there still would be plenty of customers out there that cannot see the differences if you pointed them out!
Joe, your quote "Many commercial taxidermists can be and often are artists..." I would agree that some taxidermists are artists as well, but not to the extent you're stating here! I would tone your comment down considerably.
Truth be told, the vast majority of the full-time, "commercial" taxidermists that make a good living at this are NOT true artists. True artists are too picky. It's the craftsmen that have learned to produce an acceptable quality of work and know where to draw the line, every time that make it in this business. That's not to disrespect them at all and in fact I admire their ability to successfully run a business AND keep their customers happy!
Question Joe, in your post you spoke of "Professional artists like flat artists and sculptors who work full time at their work and market it through galleries, for instance." Do you think it is fair to even compare taxidermists to them? I feel there are too many government and natural rules that prohibit us from doing as they do.
Now to answer George's question, I'm certain that both commercial and professional taxidermist are the same, as they both are taxidermists and both get paid for performing taxidermy, I don't think the terms used to differentiate are accurate but, I'll go with it here, the differences are in how they begin and handle a job from start to finish.
"Commercial" taxidermists are also professional and tend to take in and do mainly a volume of typical mounts and do them well enough and fast enough to keep many of the customers satisfied. They use more run of the mill forms and add as little action and expression into the mount as required to complete the desired outcome. I think we all fall into this area at least part of the time, many most of the time. This is the easier market to get business in.
"Professional" taxidermists also use standard forms but they tend to use them as only a starting point. They discuss each client's desires, space parameters and ultimately budget and design a custom mount to fit as much of the customers wishes as possible. These mounts often have plenty of action and expression and habitat as well. Many "Professional" taxidermists also do plenty of "Commercial" type work to fill in the gap between custom orders.
Ultimately they are the same and quality in the eyes of other taxidermists has little to do with any of it. We are a service industry and the customers that are exposed to our work will dictate whether we have what it takes or not.
There is a need of all levels of taxidermy. The real hacks won't be around long. The very wealthy go to the high end and pay for the the extra time and quality. The common guy goes to who he thinks is best in the driving distance. The poor guy prays he can find someone that can do it for what he can sell at his garage sale or junk pile for. We need them all why shouldn't the wealthy get what he want as well as the poor. Some are CEO other flip burgers we need them and all in between. If a new taxidermist wants to really know how good he is he can enter his state or any state competition for a non bias opinion.
The great artist die broke and only become famous once they take there last heart beat.
I remember Ken Walker telling me about a fellow taxidermist’s customer. The customer wanted a show piece done on his Deer not a commercial piece. The taxidermist handed him a flashlight and said there are twenty some deer heads on the wall. Two are show mounts. If you can pick them out I’ll mount yours free.
“Dave I honestly don't think so. I think there still would be plenty of customers out there that cannot see the differences if you pointed them out!“
That’s good to hear, send them my way.
All taxidermists suck. Just at different levels.
Yes but some taxidermist won't admit they suck that's the seperation.