On the surface, it might seem logical to use African taxidermy for animals harvested in Africa. After all, these are people who live in Africa and have direct experience with local fauna. Wouldn’t they be most qualified to determine the most natural poses and settings? You might think so, but you’d be wrong. If quality is the goal, don’t make the mistake of choosing your taxidermist based on geography.
Understanding the Art
At its core, taxidermy is an art form. There are seven elements of art, and an artist uses these visual tools — form, line, shape, color, texture, value, and space — to create something balanced and pleasing to the eye. In addition to a deep understanding of these elements, an exceptional taxidermist must also understand his or her medium.
Here at Animal Artistry, owner Mike Boyce has traveled and hunted all over the world. He’s seen these animals in their natural habitats — just like the local African taxidermists — and he has a unique ability to capture that authenticity. But he doesn’t rely on personal experience alone, which is critical. Every new mount is a project that begins with research and conceptualizing. It’s how we ensure that every mount is authentic and true to the animal’s native country, from various countries across Africa to New Zealand and Australia.
Our clients are as involved in this process as they choose to be, and updates are available throughout the process to ensure that the only surprise at the end is how stunning the finished piece really is. It’s in marked contrast to much of the taxidermy completed in Africa, in which mistakes are revealed upon arrival — and far too late to remedy.
Factor for Reputation, Not Geography
Going by your gut is often the best way to find a taxidermy studio that can bring the story of your hunt to life. And since that’s not always possible if you’re on opposite continents and feeling the pressure to choose a taxidermist, falling back on reputation is often a wise move. What can be said about the taxidermist you’re considering? What are they known for? How long have they been in business? What does your guide think?
Keep in mind as well that price can be indication of the finished product. In Africa, the more developed the country and its respective hunting industry, the more you’re likely to pay — and the more satisfied you may be. But satisfaction is truly subjective, and you should carefully measure reputation and scope of work against geography alone.
There is no substitute for a mount that truly finishes your hunt. It’s what we do at Animal Artistry, and we speak from experience when we say that geography is the least useful way to rank taxidermists. We’ve worked with far too many clients who had disappointing experiences with taxidermy in the countries they hunted. The truth is, a bad mount never gets better, so go with a company that understands the art that is taxidermy.