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The Artistry of a True Taxidermist

The literal definition of a taxidermist is a craftsman who recreates anatomically correct presentations of an animal utilising the animal’s skin and skeleton to present a trophy of a hunting safari or a scene utilised in museums or for scientific study.

The word taxidermist, from taxidermy, is originally derived from the Greek words, “taxis” meaning “to move” and “derma” meaning “skin”. This shows the difference between someone who simply “stuffs” animals and someone who is a true taxidermist with the ability to sculpt and create lifelike movement in the skin of the animal. Understanding the animal’s anatomy, habitat and nature give the taxidermist the ability to interpret these into a piece of wildlife artistry that alights visions of adventures, romance and treasured memories.

What makes a great taxidermist? 

A true taxidermist is a custodian of a hunter’s memories. Their vision to create beautiful presentations of such valued moments in time makes their responsibility to their clients even more valuable. Each piece of wildlife artistry carries a story of hardship and triumph. Each piece is sentimentally intertwined with the hunter’s journey and thus cannot be replaced at market value.

Splitting Image Taxidermy – true global taxidermists

Douglas Cockroft, Managing Director of Splitting Image Taxidermy , has loved wildlife all his life and has always carried a deep respect for every creature. As a grandson, he was taken on adventures by his grandfather throughout Africa to experience the cultures and diversities the continent held. As a father, he takes pleasure in giving the same gift of wildlife and all the wonders of nature to his own children. Douglas became a taxidermist, not as a boyhood dream, but by an amazing turn of fortune and an unknown gift – the ability to interpret wildlife using the craft of taxidermy.

Throughout his early life as a professional guide and photographer, Douglas met many outdoor-enthusiasts who contributed to the insight he has gained into wildlife. Years later, he has translated that knowledge into this incredible craft as a professional taxidermist. With a lifelong love of wildlife, a passion for creative thinking, and a bit of luck, Douglas was offered the opportunity to learn the foundations of quality taxidermy from several artists. Over time and with patience, he has been able to apply his skills as a taxidermist to most of the African species and a large majority of those hunted in North America, Europe and Asia.

Strong relationships and skills development

In an industry guarded by secrets, the path to the present was one built on strong relationships with other taxidermists and craftsmen from across the globe. Over the years, Douglas has honed his own skills but more importantly, has passed these skills on to other amazing artists who in turn have helped build Splitting Image Taxidermy into the global taxidermy studio it is today.

True love of wildlife as a taxidermist

A good taxidermist should be accountable, focused, and have a profound love of wildlife. Each artist is accountable for the sacred memories of the hunter. These are worth more than money as the hunting experience surrounding each animal cannot be replaced. The ability to focus on the small details of each task, to focus on the details that have made this trophy so important to the owner, and the ability to focus on being respectful to the animal, will create taxidermy that will live on forever. A taxidermist’s love of wildlife is invaluable when learning the anatomy, quirks and characteristics of various species. A deep understanding of wildlife will help a taxidermist in creating a true representation of an animal and in perfecting his craft.

When choosing a taxidermist, it is important to remember that your memories are irreplaceable. Would you put them in the hands of a person who does not respect or understand their value? Art is in the eye of the beholder, so you must believe in the craftsmanship displayed by your taxidermist and be at ease with the artist managing your prized possession.