What attracted you to taxidermy?
“I started collecting dead animals and putting them in my freezer. I felt like there was a purpose for them other than just roadkill. I got to the point where there were too many and I needed to do something with them. I then thought I could recycle them through taxidermy.”
How many dead animals did you collect before you decided you should do something with them?
“About a freezer full.”
What did you have in there?
“A raccoon, possum, mice, rats, squirrels — lots of rodents.”
What was the first roadkill you picked up?
What age did you start collecting?
Where are you from?
“I grew up in upstate New York, then moved to Astoria when I was 10.”
Did you have special training for taxidermy?
“Yes, first I took a six hour class at Paxton Gate in Portland. Three years later I went to school at Advanced Taxidermy Training Center of NW Montana in Thompson Falls, Montana. There were six people in the class, a lot of one-on-one time. They taught us how to do everything. We did nine animals in six and a half weeks.”
Taxidermy has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, do you feel like it’s evolving?
“I do. I think it’s becoming something that’s for everybody.”
What was makeup of the classes?
“It was definitely predominantly male, but there were three girls.”
Do you feel women bring a different perspective to taxidermy?
“Definitely. I think females bring delicateness, attention to detail and lots of care. In my class, a lot of guys got really frustrated — they would just start sweating. But I never get super stressed. It was interesting to see personalities of people doing taxidermy.”
What qualities make a mount come alive?
“The eyes. When you look at an animal, a lot of communication comes from the eyes.”
Do you have a forte or specialty?
“I really like smaller animals. I also want to do pets for people.”
What’s the price range for a mount?
“Usually around $200 for plaques, rugs about $400 and game heads ranging from $450 to $700. There are some things I do for $100. I want people to be able to afford the art.”
What’s your favorite part of the process?
“I love doing the eyes. When they’re set in place and you can just look at them and they almost look like they’re looking back at you. I love making things look beautiful and alive indefinitely.”
Who’s had the biggest influence on you as an artist?
“My older brother, Josh. He works on art and is my best friend. He’s always encouraging me to do what I love to do and pushes me.”
Have you done any unusual or avant-garde mounts?
“I want to do a three-headed mouse on a rat body, that’s my next plan. I want to eventually have an oddities store where I’m creating constantly.”