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A short interview with Jack
How did your taxidermy start?
I misunderstood a uni project about feasibility. One summer my girlfriend found a dead mouse in my garden and I decided to do taxidermy with it for a laugh. I did by a candle light in the back garden with a goose watching me, I had a pet goose at the time. It just stood there, watching me in horror. So yeah, I did that and carried on with it. Did a couple more mice, couple more rats but I wanted to make it into something usable. So I showed the mouse and a rat to my lecturers and it didn’t go down very well, they thought I was joking. I said that it’s not a joke, I just wanna make bad taxidermy. Everybody does it properly. People who do crap taxidermy eventually get better at it. But I don’t wanna get better. I wanna make the best bad taxidermy you can get. So I just make it bonkers. Afterwards, I put it on imgur and it went mental overnight. Thousands of people liking it and looking at it, requests to buy stuff so I just went along with it. It was a happy mistake.
How long ago was all this?
Nearly two years ago.
Do you get any requests for any custom work done?
I get all sorts. Some of them are very strange. The weirdest one was from this bloke that wanted me to make a fox fucking a badger up its ass. That’s what he wanted. So I said nah, I can’t do badgers because you know they are a protected species, so I can’t really get it anywhere or sell it. And it would be frowned upon by a lot of people anyway. So I explained it to the bloke and then he changed his request to something else. It was very ambiguous the way he worded it. He asked for a fox interfering with a hedgehog. Now that’s a spectrum there, isn’t it. I didn’t do that.
Would you do it if the badger wasn’t a protected species?
I don’t know. I did try and start a range that I was calling “My inter species erotica” range, which was a little chick, with fake plastic feet, holding up some splash-proof trousers and I gave it this whole backstory that it was going to like a party and a swingers club and I was going to make all of this as a scene. But I don’t want to make it seem that all of this is just to shock people. I wanna make them laugh more than anything.
What are the responses you get from people about your work?
I think it splits down the middle. People sometimes don’t like it because they don’t understand it, they think that there is a hidden meaning to it but there really isn’t. I just like doing it. The bad responses range from calling me Norman Bates, all the way to threatening my own life. This old lady kept messaging me saying that she wanted to hang me up, cut my calves, bleed me and shove things in my asshole….Yeah, that was a wild one. But then on the other side I get called a genius. I don’t know why. I wouldn’t consider myself a genius, a nutter maybe. So a lot of people seem to like my work and find it funny, which I am really happy about. The best thing that somebody said about me is that it’s not often you get to watch the origin story of a superhero villain unfold right in front of your very eyes. I want that on my gravestone.
How did you learn to do taxidermy?
Well I used to be a butcher. So I learned how to skin and butcher animals. And the taxidermy side is that, plus a little bit more and a bit of sewing.
So what is the work process from start to finish?
You go on buy some rats from the pet shop. Frozen, not alive, I’m not crazy. You defrost them. But not too much so they don’t go soft and floppy because then all the blood would go everywhere and you’d have to clean up more, the blood would get on the fur, so you’d have to wash that as well. Then I tend to cut down the back because that’s where I put the zip. You skin it and scrape the fat and remaining tissue off the skin. Then you dry it, sanitize it with Borax and then leave it for a couple days so it’s nice and dry. Stuff it, make a wire skeleton, stick that in, sew on a zip and that’s it! And stick a pencil sharpener up its arse.
How long does this all take?
One rat from start to finish takes about three days.
So where can people see and buy your work?
I use Facebook, Instagram and I sell all my products on Etsy. I also got featured on this massive Facebook page called crap taxidermy, which was sick. That’s like the holy grail for me.
Where do you come up with your ideas?
It just pops into my head. Normally I just sit in my studio and just screw around with things, see what I can do with them. I sometimes almost black out when I’m doing all this, then when it’s done I just look at it and burst out laughing at what I’ve just done. I like that I can surprise myself.
Do you have any favourite creations?
The bunny toaster is one of my favourites. One day, I was walking around Asda with my girlfriend and saw this toaster. Reckon I could fit a rabbit around that? I also like the 90’s rat star.
Do you have any future projects in your mind?
Yeah, I want to make like a pokemon series but with real animals. I was also thinking of starting this range called Animalgamation. The idea is that you could rearrange parts from different animals and make your own custom creature. I also wrote a book called “The uneducated guesses”. I collected words to which I try to guess the meaning. Every word has a definition and an illustration as well.