When I think of Animal Artistry’s beginnings, I often shake my head and wonder how in the world we survived.
I started my taxidermy career in my garage. It was a two-car garage located in a small, tight-knit neighborhood. Before I could even start my workday, my wife and I had to move our cars out of the garage and onto the street. This allowed me the necessary space to work. I salted animal skins on the patio floor and boiled horns on my wife’s kitchen stove — allowing the messy process of taxidermy to overflow into our living area.
A Support System
My wife was amazingly patient and supportive of my new “career,” but when I look back, I didn’t have the background or the skill set needed to setup an efficient workspace. I remember making paper mâché using bags of shredded asbestos. When I would dump that asbestos into a garbage can, it would billow up and fill the entire airspace of the garage.
I struggled through it all and learned what I needed to learn, but I am sure it was pathetic to watch from anybody who had a taxidermy background. I also did not know anything about business, but I did know I did not want to carry overhead, especially with the low volume of work we were doing.
The one thing that kept me in that garage during those days was the utter fascination I had in seeing an animal being created. Many times, I did not want to stop work, and I would return to the garage after supper and continue to work or just stand there and observe what I had done — it was mesmerizing.
Creating a Business
In spite of the many adversities, I created some pieces that were not too bad, found some clients who believed in and appreciated my work, and eventually, I was forced to move out of the garage and to a facility that was slightly bigger and more usable.
The Good Old Days
Today, those garage days are something both my wife and I reminisce and laugh about. Somehow it provided the foundation for a much bigger vision, which became Animal Artistry. I am humbled by the fact that I was able to create a successful business, and I still get to do what I love every day.