When you’ve been in the industry for 40 years, you make a lot of connections. In our time, we’ve been very fortunate to work with truly exceptional artists who cut their teeth in our studio before launching out on their own. It’s the nature of the business, and we always wish them well. One of these artists is Dawayne Dewey, who has truly become our favorite Wyoming taxidermist.
“My Formative Years”
Between 1990 and 1993, Animal Artistry was a much smaller shop. “I call them my formative years,” says Dawayne. “We had a small group of guys that were real talented, and we did a lot of neat work.” He remembers the challenging environment, a lot of learning, and a team routinely trying new stuff that hadn’t been done before. “It was kind of my training ground – a bunch of guys in there working together, making custom pieces and new things. It was a challenging job, but a tremendous opportunity to work with Mike for those three years. It was one of the best things I got do in the business and in this industry.”
A Studio of His Own
When Dawayne decided to go out on his own, he did so with absolute courtesy and transparency. He left nothing but good feelings between us. And in the years since he launched his own studio and built a wonderful business in Cody, Wyoming.
Dawayne is most notably recognized for his excellence in North American wild sheep, as well as other North American game. He has won multiple awards in the national taxidermy competitions in the Masters of Masters division.
On top of his skill, Dawayne is a wonderful person and truly a credit to the taxidermy industry. We wish all the best to Dawayne for the work you’ve done and in your future endeavors. We are so proud that you were part of the Animal Artistry family.
Animal Artistry Finishing Department
After the skin is mounted and dried, it is sent to the finishing department (aka the beauty department) for final touches — cleaning, grooming, airbrushing, and the artistry that truly brings your trophy to life.⠀⠀⠀
Leopard and Crocodile I watched a YouTube video the other day of a leopard trying to steal food from a crocodile. The leopard, after several attempts, was unsuccessful. This mount sort of captures the essence of that video to a more dramatic and artistic effect.
Taxidermy Special on Shoulder Mounts for the 2020 North American Hunting Season
The longer this pandemic goes on, the more negative economic consequences it has on all of us: I’m feeling it, my friends are feeling it, as well as our clients and employees—none of us are immune. And here comes hunting season. Some folks have been waiting for years and finally draw tags that are very special, others just have an opportunity to go hunting, but everybody is now second-guessing themselves, saying, “Should I take the time, should I spend the money.”
What I’ve Learned
The thing I’ve learned is you can’t put life on hold, you can’t go back and get it after those opportunities are gone. I never regret taking the opportunities when they arise. Somehow, in the end, it all works out, and I have an experience I cannot replicate.
I want to try to encourage folks to hunt this year, and for that reason, I’m offering the following specials valid for the 2020 North American Hunting Season:
Deer (Blacktail, Mule, and Whitetail) and Pronghorn Antelope Shoulder Mounts
Original Price: $955
Special Price: $725 Out the Door* & Completed in 90 Days! Sheep (Bighorn, Dall, Desert, and Stone) Shoulder Mounts
Original Price: $1395
Special Price: $1165 Out the Door* & Completed in 90 Days! Elk Shoulder Mounts
Original Price: $1725
Special Price: $1495 Out the Door* & Completed in 90 Days! *This special is ONLY valid for the 2020 North American Hunting Season (8/1/2020 to 12/31/2020). Prices are all inclusive for a standard shoulder mount—no hidden fees, no additional costs for skinning, tanning, etc.
In addition to our special pricing and 90-day guarantee, we will be available 24/7 for any drop offs. If you harvest an animal, call Stewart Brown at 775-342-7231 or 775-622-4205 for assistance outside normal business hours.
We're Here for You
By offering these specials, it’s my way of telling you that we’re with you, we’re in the same boat, and we’re not just here for the fat cats—we’re here for everybody who loves the outdoors and cares about hunting. We want to help anyway we can.
Rhino Skin Test Fit
Progress shot of our Rhino Project this week (7/27/2020). For projects like this, teamwork and communication are key. Mike Boyce (on right), owner of Animal Artistry, works alongside his team of artists.
As an art form, taxidermy is by definition subjective. What appeals to one may not appeal to another. Still, there remains at least a baseline that we can use to measure the overall quality of a trophy. And it has less to do with an individual trophy than it does the taxidermist himself. When you work with someone who truly understands his or her craft, your chances of a quality piece go up. The issue, then, becomes finding such a craftsman.
There are three signs of an exceptional taxidermist, and all of them are perfectly captured in the father of modern taxidermy.
The Father of Modern Taxidermy
Carl Akeley is widely considered the father of modern taxidermy. He was the first to use skeletons and anatomy charts to build accurate mannikins, and he was the first to apply the tanned skins to his finished forms. Before Akeley’s approach, taxidermy was less an art form and more a dead-skins-stuffed-with-sawdust-and-cotton situation. He began with a canary, but before his death he had created the Akeley Hall of African Mammals at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. It stands to this day as the gold standard of taxidermy. Each diorama is impressive in design and composition. The taxidermy itself is beautiful and way ahead of its time, while the flora and fauna are authentic and realistic.
Akeley was a sculptor, biologist, conservationist, inventor, and nature photographer. It’s a range that’s evident in the work that he created. Three characteristics about Akeley remain representative today of exceptional taxidermists:
1. He was a naturalist
Akeley led an amazing life. In the early part of the 20th century, he was being charged by elephants and wrestling leopards in Africa. Akeley, along with his wife and son, was part of an animal conservation and education effort that brought animals and landscapes from around the world to people who would never otherwise have the opportunity to see them. His goal was truly to honor these animals — it’s a level of respect that we deeply understand here at Animal Artistry. Akeley spent significant time in the field studying both the animals and the environment in which they lived, which gave him a deep understanding that’s clearly evident in his work.
2. He was an artist
Taxidermy wasn’t Akeley’s only medium. He would eventually create some of the world’s greatest bronzes, with some selling for over $100,000. And then there’s the story of The Old Lion — a bronze statue meant to symbolize the strength, courage, and fearlessness of Theodore Roosevelt after his death. Roosevelt was a close personal friend of Akeley’s, and he cast a single bronze of the lion before destroying both the model and the mold.
Akeley’sartistic ability was fundamental to his naturalism, and again, it’s something that comes across so plainly in his work.
3. He was a craftsman
Akeley was committed to creating the most realistic taxidermy he could, right down to the smallest detail. He was careful, patient, focused, and driven by authenticity — a true craftsman. His standards were high, and he compared his work to the real thing.
Signs That Stand to This Day
These three elements still provide the basis for an exceptional taxidermist. And while there may be many taxidermists in the industry, it’s simply a fact that not all can claim to be naturalists, artists, and craftsmen. Those that can, however, tend to be the very taxidermists creating work that can truly be considered an art form.
Five Considerations When You Need a Taxidermist Who Won’t Blow Your Budget
We all want a great deal, but almost everyone recognizes “you get what you pay for.” The truth in that old adage has probably applied to all of us at one time or another, and it’s absolutely true in taxidermy. Hunting itself is expensive, and the prices can soar skyward if you want to preserve those memories with an incredible trophy. To help you out, we’re sharing five considerations when you need a taxidermist who won’t blow your budget.
1. Don’t Choose on Price Alone
Dirt-cheap pricing is a warning sign of one of two things — inexperience or a bad business model that will leave you waiting years for your finished trophy. A successful taxidermy business has expenses, and it cannot afford to offer excessively low pricing without sacrificing some level of quality. If you’re considering taxidermy, this animal means something to you.
If you choose a taxidermist simply because he or she offers the lowest price around, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. What’s more, you may find yourself on the hook for remounting costs when you decide there’s no way this disaster of a mount is going in your house.
2. Be Familiar with the Going Rates
Just because you’re not falling for the cheapest offer around doesn’t mean you need to make a beeline for the fanciest place you can find. The goal is to find the very best quality at the fairest rates. Many taxidermists publish price lists online or make them available if you call. Our price list is right here — and if you don’t see what you’re looking for, we’re more than happy to discuss specifics with you. Either way, spend some time comparing pricing so you have an idea of going rates.
3. Get Referrals
Recommendations and referrals are a great starting point. Ask friends or family members about the trophies that you really admire. They’ll probably be willing to share information about what it cost, how long it took, and the general experience with a given taxidermist. If you’re getting referrals from your PH, keep in mind that there’s likely a kickback, so take it with a grain of salt.
4. Ask Questions in Order
While pricing is often the very first question out of a customer’s mouth, you’ll get a much better idea of a taxidermist’s commitment to quality and methodology by asking other questions first. Inquiring about their experience, scope of work, favorite projects, typical timeframe, and recommendations for your mount is a great way to determine if a taxidermist’s approach aligns with your vision for the finished piece. Don’t skip the money talk, but don’t lead with it, either.
5. Check Out Their Work
If you can, it’s best to meet a taxidermist face to face in their studio. You’ll get a sense of their level of professionalism, and you can take a look at finished projects and those still in progress. Think of it as a quality check — does the work seem realistic, or can you tell some corners are being cut? Can you picture your mount being created here?
You’re going to have a budget, and that’s fine. Finding a taxidermist that can work within your budget may take a little research, and you may need to adjust your expectations, but keeping these five considerations in mind is a great start. We’d love to be on your short list — contact us today!
Hi the dude in the picture. It would be cool to know the area (genetics) of the stag you have in your profile picture. I am from New Zealand and shot a stag here that is almost identical, especially the throw backs. I can send you a photo to prove I'm genuine with my enquiry.