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Is My Work As A Bad As I Think It Is?

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by Clovis Point, Mar 8, 2020.

  1. Clovis Point

    Clovis Point Active Member

    I have always been my own biggest critic. Hindsight is 20/20 and I always have a habit of looking back on any type of project I do and seeing the flaws and having trouble getting past them.
    These are the last 3 mounts I did. The flaws I see in them (mainly in eye sets and paint) drive me flipping crazy. Is my work as bad as I think it is ? This is my first year actually taking on customer work (taxidermy is a part time side hustle and not my primary source of income). These 3 represent my 11th 12th and 13th deer I’ve ever mounted (not counting hands on instruction with my mentor) and the 6th 7th and 8th I’ve mounted since taking on customer work (I took in 16 shoulder mounts and 10 skulls, all my skulls are finished and turned out superb). Yeah, I rushed in and should have gotten more practice before taking on customer mounts, but life circumstances didn’t allow for that, it was now or never and never (failure) was not an option. There are only 2 other taxidermist in my general area and both have other jobs and both turn away work every year. They both charge $450. I charged $375, not because I was trying to “buy work” or any of the other bad things everyone warns against but because I’ve seen those guys work and it’s better than mine. And I’ve seen my work and sometimes when I’m looking at it and seeing these flaws I’m not sure it’s even worth anything.

    I’m not looking for pats on the back or fishing for compliments or encouragement, and I’m not really seeking critique either because I can find plenty of flaws in my work (however critique is always welcome and encouraged, I am trying to improve). I don’t know I’m the type of person who does best when I can talk through my problems with my wife and close friends but I can’t really truly share this with the people i usually bounce my problems off of because they don’t understand taxidermy and so I need to hear insight from people who can better understand the situation. Like, am I ripping people off ? What I see of everyone else’s work is literally all better than mine. I’m in every Taxidermy fb group and on here and in the last year or so I have literally only seen 1 mount that an argument could even be made that my stuff was better than .

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  2. Carolin Brak-Dolny

    Carolin Brak-Dolny Active Member

    On taxidermy FB sites they will say your work is good and give you likes. It is better to join your state association. You will learn a ton and the judge will give you an honest critique.

  3. 13 point

    13 point Well-Known Member

    I’ll be honest, it’s not to good per say but not the worst I’ve seen . You need to look at study pics and understand them , reference pics is your key to success. As stated start participating in your state Taxidermy competitions and might even do a work study program that some of your better taxidermist offer like Joe Meader and Yox . You have the basics it’s just more detail needed to get you there . Not sure where your from but I’m sure you can find someone to set you on the right path . Goodluck and keep at it

    I will add if you do need help or a question you can call me anytime and pic my brain . 410-977-1856 Glen take care
    drob and Micah Howards like this.
  4. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    Don't beat yourself up over your work. All of your customers will be happy with their mount. Is there room for improvement, yes. I do strictly commercial work, and the "internet judges" would tear me up. I don't really give two hoots about their opinion...I'm on my way out of taxidermy, not on my way into it. Strive to improve with every mount. Attend a state show and watch someone like Ben Mears or Paul Witt mount a deer. You will get closer to your goal by "real world" experiences vs the internet.
  5. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I believe that one should have many practice mounts done before accepting customers. My opinion is that one should have a year or two or more of experience and practice using many forms of training such as many DVDs, books, competition, internet and one on one.

    It has been my way of doing things to hone my skills over a long period of time before offering to work for customers. I probably had done 50 or more deer heads before doing one for friends or family and many many more practice heads before taking on a true customer.

    I had change out heads and set eyes on those using the technics I learned from the many videos and books I bought from the suppliers and tried each method. The same with ear butts and nostrils, lip lines and hair patterns. Gleaned all I could from local taxidermists and then came DVDs and the internet, which meant more practice with new methods. I studied and mounted turkeys for 7 years before I ever did anything for a customer more than a tail mount. I had done many head/breast/ tail wall mounts before I did one for a customer. I retired before I could do a life size for customers although I had mounted many life size turkeys for myself.

    I did antler mounts for customers after a year or so learning different technics and offered a discount if they brought the whole head so I would have a head skin to mount on my changeout heads. I used the same antler set for each practice head.
  6. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I forgot to say that your mounts are not bad at all for 11, 12 and 13th deer. I have seen worse on some peoples 800th deer. You have some good points going on with room for improvement. Keep striving to be better on each mount.

    Also, joeym is right. Hands on is the best way to go if the instructor is a good one.

    By the way, joeym is a much better taxidermist than he says he is. I think his work would pass with good marks by most internet judges.
  7. Fermis

    Fermis Well-Known Member

    As a casual observer, trying to have a discerning eye for this...
    Something doesn't look quite right...but I couldn't tell you what that is.
    As a customer...I wouldn't hide them off in another room (I have several mounts, fish,deer small critters) that are "hidden" in other rooms, because they are not the most pleasing to look at).

    I have always been my own biggest critic. Hindsight is 20/20 and I always have a habit of looking back on any type of project I do and seeing the flaws and having trouble getting past them.

    My "expertise" is in scale model aircraft. I have built well over 1000, probably close to 2000 over the years. I've won a few hundred awards at local, regional, and even National shows...many 1st, best of "whatever category", special awards, even Best of Show. They've even been in a few model magazines. I've made thousands $$$, from these models and they are spread out over the country.
    That's not to brag...the point is, I have yet to build a model that I am any more than about 90% satisfied with...let alone perfect!
    Chasing perfect is a good thing...just know that you'll likely never get there(at least not in your eye!). The builds I loved and was satisfied with ten years ago...now, to me look like they were done by a child!

    *edit...after typing all this out, I re-read your post and had a 2nd look at the pics. Had you not pointed out the eyes as your area of concern, I probably would not have noticed the differences from one side to the other. Much the same, most people would never notice if the wings on one of my models weren't perfectly aligned...until I pointed it out!
    Bruce M, Clovis Point and drob like this.
  8. Museum Man

    Museum Man Well-Known Member

    after spending at least 50 years in taxidermy I can tell you that I still am very critical of my work. I can always find something I could have done better. That being said, just continue to try and produce the best work you can, use any study products you can to improve your work, and continue to learn. I feel I am still and always will be learning. That will keep you going forward in the industry. Good luck
  9. Clovis Point

    Clovis Point Active Member

    I really appreciate everyones advice. I'm starting to realize that I was probably a little too all up in my feelings the other night... I got to thinking about it and every customer has seemed genuinely pleased and two have actually paid me more than our pre-established price (one of them was a skull mount but still).
    I've been messaging a few of you and am planning some different posts on here to address what I think can have the biggest impact on improving my work. Like trying tanning, earliners and premade ear butts for starters.

    I would NOT have made a post like this on any of the FB groups... contrary to what Carolyn said I feel like the FB groups would have all torn me a new one. On fb I have been accused of "doing such a disservice [I am] practically robbing my customers" because I use DP instead of tanning... seems like everyone on there is willing to talk themselves up but they dont REALLY show their work. Maybe a pic taken from one angle and from far enough back that there is a foot above the antlers all the way to the floor in frame. Or one taken by a professional photographer that I can tell has been edited. Or they will show a perfect sculpted eyeset but only before they pull a hide over it and lay and tuck everything. Its kind of strange normally on the internet when people have to use their real name they are less of an A-hole than when they can operate anonymously, but in regards to taxidermy its the opposite it seems to me. On FB people have ego and and reputation at stake and feel as though they have to present a perfect front and show no weaknesses. Whereas on here where most operate under a chosen screen name its almost like the anonymity allows people to be less guarded.

    The check is in the mail for joining my state org... my mentor is on the KTA board and thats one of the very first things he stressed to me.

    Fermis - its funny you mentioned having "hidden" mounts... the first deer i ever did solo was for a guy whos been a good friend my whole life, our dads were buddies, and him, his wife and dad, contributed 4 of the first 5 deer I ever mounted. We have a prearranged agreement that I do his stuff at cost , but get full creative liscence, and if I need the deer, like at the beginning of the season and I need sample work for customers to see or when I set up a booth at a local hunting farm and garden expo I can go get them off his wall... anyway we have a running joke about that first deer i did solo- that it is best hung in a poorly lit room :D

    Tanglewood - In an ideal world i would have prefered to have been as prepared as you were. I cant imagine how a person could have access to that many deer to mount, let alone paying for all those materials out of pocket. It was a major sacrifice and investment for my family to fund paying for my instruction, plus all the supplies I would need, and materials... That was a big reason I needed to take on customer work, I had learned this process, but if I had waited another year, and only been able to get my hands on 3 or 4 deer (whatever me, my wife, and the aforementioned friend could get on the ground) i felt like i was going to lose it and forget. The other side of that whole practice makes perfect thing is no-practice makes you forget.
    Micah Howards likes this.
  10. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I totally understand. How I got that many deer to practice on was to start an antler mounting business and offer a discount if you brought me the whole head that was fresh. I had plenty of money and deer heads every year until I didn't need heads anymore at which time the discount for the whole head ceased.
  11. 15pt

    15pt Well-Known Member

    I use to get all the extra capes I needed by offering a free skull mount for the cape if it was a nice cape. These days I process, so I tend to snag any nice looking capes.
  12. Fermis

    Fermis Well-Known Member

    You could probably get all the practice capes you could want from the local butcher shop.

    Years ago, I had the gumption to jump into deer heads...inspired by some books I got for x-mas. Kansas had an extended antlerless season (1st 2 weeks of Jan)...I called the local butcher to see about getting a head or two. No problem!

    As I was caping out a doe, a guy brought in a monster buck (already shed his antlers)...I had a nice set that could go with it. Got it home and got to work....then...by the hundreds it seemed, ticks started pouring off it. Everything went into a Hefty bag and off to a dumpster behind the school. Of all things...ticks absolutely disgust me, and completely killed my desire to do deer.
    msestak likes this.
  13. Dave York

    Dave York Well-Known Member

    In my former vocation I had the belief I could always do a job more efficiently=Faster. So now I know I’m every piece I do I know there is room for improvement. Turkeys are the worst for me. I can groom breast feathers everyday from a week. It seems each day I look at it a feather is out of place.
  14. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I know what you mean! I have come to the belief that when it comes to turkeys, there may not be a literal ton of feathers on one, however, there are figuratively 2,000 pounds of them. To keep from going insane, I set a limit on preening. There is point where good enough really is good enough on them.
  15. Rick Carter

    Rick Carter Administrator

    Yes. your work is as bad as you think it is. In fact it far worse than you think it is. So is mine and everyone else’s that does taxidermy. The good news is that you recognize the shortcomings. You can always fix the things that you know are wrong. Compare your work to live animals. The more you know, the more frustrated you will become in trying to duplicate life. Every few years you will look back at previous work with greater disappointment. The worst thing you can do is to be so in love with your creations that you stop recognizing the truth.
    rarestjewels, Lance.G, EA and 3 others like this.
  16. Clovis Point

    Clovis Point Active Member

    I'm going to print that quote out in extra large font and post it on the lid of my freezer so I see it every day. Thats one of the most inspiring things anyone has ever said to me. (not kidding)
    Tony Corleone and Rick Carter like this.
  17. Westcoast

    Westcoast Well-Known Member

    My advice would be to get some training with a good instructor. You need to walk through the process with someone who knows exactly what they are doing, then replicate that.