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To be a taxidermist............

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by Don Wilson, Oct 28, 2006.

  1. Don Wilson

    Don Wilson New Member

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    Do you really have to be an artist to be a taxidermist????? I look at some of these mounts and think can I do something like this??? Is taxidermy something everyone can do with hard work and attention to detail?? I'm not very artistic but am a stickler for detail. Can I really make something like this happen. I have loved taxidermy my whole life but have always been almost afraid of it. I think to myself "what if I mess this up for this guy". You cant fix alot of stuff in taxidermy...or can you???? thanks for all the info.

    Don
     
  2. GGT

    GGT New Member

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    Don, I'm fairly new to taxidermy myself and like you I was hesitant to start. I think there are two main types of people who do well with modern taxidermy. Those with artistic talent and those who follow procedures well. With the forms, eyes, ears, pastes, etc. available today, just about anyone who can follow directions well and use good reference can turn out a decent product. If you have some artistic ability, you can do a great product. The best way to find out where you fit in is to get going and start mounting your stuff and see how it turns out.
     

  3. Mr.T

    Mr.T New Member

    It helps to be artistic, now that old hashed over discusion will start again about taxidermy being an art of craft. You have just hit the bees nest with a stick.
    Even the most talented artist first mounts look rough and beginne'rish. It takes knowledge, study and hard homework even for the best of them to find and implement the finer points on an animals features to re-create a mount. But nobody's first mounts will win ribbons unless they have been coached or trained by a teacher. An true artist will have an eye for the finer details, and the ability to bring them out in a mount, just from looking at a picture for reference. Most of us are craftsman that have to make it happen just to be commercial grade. And then there are the hacks that have the motto that second best is good enough. Where you fall in is up to you, it depends on how hard you want to research and overcome the challenges.
     
  4. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    The question you ask is actually a moot point. "Art is in the eye of beholder" still rings true today. If your question is "Can I be a GREAT taxidermist without being artistic?", I have to say the answer is "no". Can you be a good taxidermist? Only the market place will bear that decision.

    The first thing I tell all beginners to do is to can these phrases: "I'm a stickler for detail" and "I'm a perfectionist." You're neither and no one else is either. All of us are capable and quite able to put out a piece that, afterwards, we wish we'd done differently, taken a little more time on, posed a bit differently or some intrinsic item that only afterwards are we able to see.

    Only one thing is certain and sure. If you truly love taxidermy and want to try it, wishing won't ever make you one. This trade is a lot like playing pinochle. You can watch it from outside, know all the rules, but until you sit down and have those cards in your hand, you'll never learn how to play. Jump on in. Grab a chair, sit down and pick up the cards. You'll decide soon enough if you can play and enjoy it.
     
  5. Dean

    Dean New Member

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    I guess you won't know until you try. Almost anyone can be taught how to do taxidermy , but only a few of them will have the talent to actuallly be good at it. On your post you said " I look at some of these mounts and think I can do something like this???" There is a good chance you can do better than some of the mounts on here. I've seen some poor work posted here. It depends on your ability and how bad you want to be at it. There are people that attempt taxidermy and find out they just can't get it. There are others that are in denial, they do poor work even though they have been attempting taxidermy for 20-30 years and still don't get it and think they're good at it. Looking at reference and actually being able to READ the reference and see what is happening are two differnt things. Some of it comes with training, some with experience, the rest either comes natural or it's not there at all. The rest is how bad you want it. If you have the talent, then drive and motivation will get you to the next level. Don you were worried about messing something up for a guy. You don't learn with customers trophies. It shouldn't happen, because you shouldn't be doing taxidermy for customers at all until you know how to do it correctly and go to some competitions and compete, win some PROFESSIONAL ribbons ( at least) and prove your ability. Then you can start to tackle some customer jobs. Again, don't PRACTICE on customers trophies, it's a good way to end up in court and get a reputation for poor work. Every piece you will have you name and reputation hanging on the wall. Good luck
     
  6. Jims Wildlife Studio

    Jims Wildlife Studio Full Time PA Taxidermist

    I agree with George and Dean, I also will stress Dean's point on working on any thing but your own animal's and bird's until you get your feet wet a little. Good Luck, Jim
     
  7. Don Wilson

    Don Wilson New Member

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    First off let me thank you guys for the input. Secondly, I would NEVER do a mount outside of my own until I felt very comfortable doing so. But still even after you have done a hundered mounts arn't you bound to mess up. How does that play out. I'm a trapper and have access to what ever I catch for mounts. I catch more coyotes then I can get rid of. I can practice quite a bit on them. Dean I know who your talking about and he is actually close to were I live. I thought about taking classes from him till I saw his work. This is the thing I'm trying to avoid. Once again thanks for the info and you guys are a great bunch. I would like to do this as a source of part time income but I'm asuming it will take quite some time before I'm ready for that.

    Don
     
  8. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Don, after a hundred mounts the ONLY excuse for a "mess up" should be a bad specimen. So, "no" a professional taxidermist should not be messing up at this point. Personally, at least I haven't ever screwed up a customer's mount. AND, I've had a few that were in terrible shape - spoiled fish with scales-a-poppin like there's no tomorrow, etc. And, I was even able to salvage these. THIS, IMHO is what makes or breaks whether or not one should be called a "taxidermist". And that is the ability to come up with solutions on your own when problems like these happen. And they WILL happen. This imho is where a lot of creativity comes to play. Maybe even moreso than the actual artistic side of things directly related to the mount.

    I agree with George in that "yes" you can become an adequate taxidermist w/o much artistic ability. But, artistic ability is key if you wish to pursue the higher levels of taxidermy. There's only one way to find out and that's to jump in feet first. I would think that if you're detail oriented, you must have at least some artistic ability? Unless of course that detail is pursued in a non-artistic field such as Accounting or something of that nature??? Again, only one way to find out...
     
  9. Don Wilson

    Don Wilson New Member

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    Man you guys are great. I think you guys have given me the puch I need to take one of my coyotes and give it a try.

    Don
     
  10. mount it

    mount it My Mount

    Go for it.Randall
     
  11. Frank from PA

    Frank from PA Frank's other brother, Frank.

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    My first speciman, 39 years ago was a pigeon. When I finished it was hilarious. The neck was about 9" long and the body was very narrow. I could see it was just awful. I was taking the Northwestern School of Taxidermy course at that time. One thing that still sticks in my mind is that it repeatedly said, "whatever you do, never quit." In no time I was well on my way. With the videos and magazines nowdays you should have a very enjoyable time. Good luck, Dan
     
  12. choo choo charlie

    choo choo charlie I feel pretty good for the way I feel

    I hope that all the guys who are so willing to share their knowledge with us new comers know how much it is appreciated!
     
  13. shaneb

    shaneb New Member

    I agree and disagree, artistic talent helps, but is not necessary. In my opinion, if you work hard, pay attention to detail, and continually strive to improve, there is nothing you cant do. you look at some of these guys who do these fantastic mounts and think to yourself man this guy must have magic hands,or wow, hes gifted. But the fact of the matter is when they did theyre first mount I would bet it didnt look any better than youre first. Moral of this post I guess is that yes, anyone who truly applies themselves can be great at taxidermy.
     
  14. armstrongbucks

    armstrongbucks New Member

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    Very nice responses guys. It is nice to see encoragement as opposed to the responses I got to my inqirey about doing my own first mount.
     
  15. Mr.T

    Mr.T New Member

    armstrong, don't have such thin skin. If you new guys look at the dates of this discusion, it ended last October 30th, 2006
    charlie has dug up some other old discusions also. Watch the dates guys and stay up to date. ;D
     
  16. RTF

    RTF Active Member

    Doing great work is only half of this business. If you lack business and management skills, you will never get ahead in this field of work. The other route would be to work for someone else and who wants to do that ?
     
  17. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    I agree with Shane. With just about ANYTHING in life, hard work, dedication and determination is far more important than natural ability. But, IF you're striving to be the Best in the World or have very high goals like this, then artistic ability becomes much more important...
     
  18. Lonny Travis

    Lonny Travis Guest

    I`d also like to add some things about compositions..how a piece is presented has alot to do with it`s appeal...I see alot of decent mounts but once people put it on a habitat everything goes to the wayside...sometimes less is more or visa versa...some people have an eye for compostion and some don`t..fortunately these things can be learned if ya really sit down and study good work from great work...knowledge is a powerful tool in the world of taxidermy and motivation will carry you a long ways..some people have NO artistic ability and it normally shows..people can always improve through hard work and study...fish require the most artistic ability in my opinion. Learning to blend colors, and layering can take years to learn to do correctly...with mammals it`s all about expression and finer details in muscle structure and prep work...In my opinion what seperates the greats from the not so greats is patience in prep work, and studying the animal your working on, but making it all come together with the habitat/base puts the final piece to test..