First published October 9, 2011 – theredlens.com
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a very talented taxidermist, in his shop, where countless deer peer down, a buffalo looms over you and once in a while a giant elk or bear will be standing too close as if frozen, but no less unsettling. Chris Douglass’ shop, Out Back Taxidermy, is not a place for the faint of heart, but he makes it too interesting to stay away.
You see, not only is he an artisan taxidermist (yes, what he does is art), but once we showed up and he had adopted countless unwanted exotic breeder parrots, all squawking loudly in a big room behind his shop. Another time, he was out back (no pun intended) tending to his bee hives, in a full bee suit. He used to run this business full-time, near Quantico, VA, but has since gone back to his earlier profession for a more secure paycheck. The economic downturn resulted in clients being unable to pay for the work they’ve had him do, which is why he’s left with a lot of animals on those shop walls. A testament to his talent, but doing nothing for his own business.
We’re from different generations, he – who has no interest for a web presence, and I – whose passion is to communicate through the web, but I knew right away that he would be fun to interview for one of my new media assignments. He started his education with mail-in courses, somewhat like me taking online classes for my Master’s degree. He inspires me when he talks about how he discovered he wanted to do taxidermy (a Smithsonian visit and Boy’s Life magazines), became self-taught, and started his own business. There’s a lot to learn from people like Douglass, and I’m more than willing to listen.