We all know that with any art form or skill, the price of the outcome can vary wildly based on things like reputation, labour and many other factors. But here is an insight in to why taxidermy is deemed to be expensive in 2023.
After all, it’s just stuffing a dead animal, right? Wrong.
Amidst the ongoing cost of living crisis, people are understandably seeking ways to save money wherever possible, even when it comes to taxidermy mounts. But what’s the difference between the taxidermist charging you £100 for the bird you want preserved, vs. £500 from the other?
Behind the scenes of taxidermy lies a wealth of intricate work that often goes unnoticed by those outside the industry, accounting for a significant portion of the cost. However, I firmly believe that the true value of taxidermy goes beyond merely labor-intensive efforts; it hinges on factors like quality, professional expertise, and artistic license.
Speaking from personal experience, I fell into the trap of accepting every commission that came my way, as societal norms often pressure us not to turn down any business or opportunity that comes our way. Although I have never lost love for the craft since the day I started, during this time I was always preoccupied with thoughts about the next project, when I was working on another. This left me with no room to creatively breathe.
Consequently, I eventually experienced burnout, both physically and mentally, prompting me to reevaluate my career and work ethic.
Taking a much-needed break and clearing my schedule turned out to be a game-changer. The release from the pressure to perform and hastily turn around specimens allowed me to break free from the constant chase to take on more projects and meet deadlines.
Once this burden was gone, I felt so free to enjoy my work so much more. I now had the luxury to be completely present with every specimen I worked on, absorbing every perfect, beautiful biological detail, observing them with the curiosity and wonder of a child once again.
My creativity and artistic vision also flourished. I had time to carefully construct and plan projects, to learn new techniques, experiment, indulge in pedantic detailing, to advance in my field, which ultimately leads to my work being more distinguishable from others – not just another ‘bird on a stick’.
The simple truth is this: when I gift myself ample time for projects, the quality of my work soars to new heights, and I take immense pride in the results.
In hindsight, it all seems rather straightforward, doesn’t it?
And that’s precisely why I’ve made the choice to severely limit the amount of commissioned work I take on. By doing so, I can ensure that I deliver the best possible results while also freeing up precious time for my own creative pursuits. It’s a win-win approach that allows me to excel in my craft and embrace my artistic journey to the fullest.
The following list contains the average cost of materials, labour and overheads based on a typical bird mount, seeing as I specialise in avian taxidermy.
This of course, is just an average and some specimens, such as owls, may take me a full couple of hours to dry sufficiently and if I am skinning waterfowl, you can easily double the time it takes me to process given their very high fat content, making them way more time consuming to thoroughly clean and wash.
“You get what you pay for”
The cheapest quote doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a terrible mount though and the most expensive doesn’t always ensure quality work either.
Let me share an example that highlights the difference between price and quality of taxidermy. Recently, I received an inquiry from a newly practicing taxidermist who had yet to work on a mammal—still very much a beginner in the field with a few months practice. They sought advice from me on how much to charge their client for a badger commission they had just acquired.
Now, I would never belittle anyones skill level or natural ability, we all have to start somewhere! However, when it comes to offering services to the public without prior experience working on a specific project, and then charging professional prices comparable to someone with a decade of dedicated experience, it can give rise to potential issues.
In my view, it’s good practice for a taxidermist to retain recently mounted work for slightly longer than the time it takes to dry completely. This allows ample time to ensure that everything has set correctly. This period is crucial, as any issues that may arise would likely become apparent during this phase. For instance, if a taxidermist promises to turn around a medium-sized bird mount for you within a week, I would consider it a red flag.
Remember, investing in quality taxidermy requires careful consideration and research. It’s essential to ensure that the taxidermist you choose has the necessary expertise and a proven track record in producing mounts similar to what you have in mind for your prized specimens.
In conclusion, the reason behind the seemingly high cost of my taxidermy work is a culmination of a variety of factors that reflect my dedication to the craft and my deep love and respect for wildlife. Beyond the intricate materials and labour costs involved, the true value lies in the artistic ability I bring to each project, as well as the years of experience and unwavering commitment I have devoted to enhancing my skills (with still so much to learn!).
As a taxidermist, I understand the significance of quality over quantity. Taking the time to immerse myself in every project allows me to bring out the exquisite beauty of each specimen, creating a mount that not only captures its physical form, habitat and biology, but also resonates with the observer on a deeper level.
Moreover, my decision to limit the number of commissions I undertake stems from my pursuit of excellence and the desire to ensure that every project receives the attention it deserves. By doing so, I can maintain a level of artistry and craftsmanship that helps set my work apart, leaving a lasting impression on those who appreciate the art of taxidermy.
So, the next time you come across what seems like a higher price for taxidermy, remember that it should be a reflection of the dedication, skill, and passion poured into creating a unique and exceptional piece of art.
The investment in my work is not just for a preserved animal; it is an investment in artistry, respect for nature, and the celebration of the incredible creatures that inhabit our world.
By choosing my taxidermy services, you are not merely getting a mount; you are welcoming a piece of art that immortalises the essence of life and beauty in the natural world.