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Valentine Antidote: Skull-A-Day

Written by in Profiles


After making stuff like Sushi Skull every day for a year, Noah Scalin launched his own line of skull tshirts, posters, buttons and more. They’re available at Skull-a-Day. Some might say Noah’s still out of his.

[By Guest Contributor Michelle Taute]

Make Something Every Day and Change Your Life. That’s the seductive tagline for designer Noah Scalin’s latest book, 365: A Daily Creativity Journal — and it’s also his personal mantra. From June 2007 to June 2008, Scalin made a skull every single day and posted it to the Skull-A-Day blog.

The effort landed him a book deal (SKULLS, Lark Books), space in art galleries and even an appearance on The Martha Stewart Show. But perhaps most impressive, Scalin did it all while running his design firm, Another Limited Rebellion, teaching at Virginia Commonwealth University, and giving talks and workshops. Against the Grain talked to him about the how and why behind making something every day.

Why are daily creative projects a good idea for designers?
As a designer myself, I know we’re all working with short deadlines and sometimes difficult clients. So there’s a tendency to fall back on default skills—things you know will work. With my daily project, my default settings are 365 more. I feel like I’ve done some of my best client work since then. The other thing is that it helped me to let go. I think I was looking to have my client work be my creative outlet, but that’s really frustrating. Clients want something different. You have an opportunity with this to make what you want every day.

What would you say to people who aren’t sure how to get started?
Don’t think too hard about it. If I’d thought a lot about it, I never would have done it. It’s too big a thing to keep inside your head. The best thing to do is start. You can change it along the way. Don’t worry about perfection. Make things. Once you’re making things, there’s a momentum. There’s a musician with a weekly creative project, and he said something like, “Start writing a bad song.  Chances are you’ll end up with a good one.”

Can you tell us some of the lessons you learned from Skull-a-Day?
I packed the book full of all the lessons I learned. The key is making stuff. After about 100 of anything, you’ve probably used up all of your existing skills and ideas. That’s when it gets good. The whole point is to have that experience of what’s next. The risk you’re taking is very small.

Do you have plans for another daily project?
Right now I don’t have any inclination to do another. I got so much from it that I’m still building on it. Skull-a-Day is on its fourth year. Some über-fans of the site are running it. Even though I’m not doing a daily project, I’m still creating every day. I’m working on a follow-up book to 365 Creative Journal, and I’ve actually turned writing it into a month-long daily project.

3 Inspiring Daily Projects to Check out Right Now
(via the 365: Make Something Every Day and Change Your Life! blog)

1.) 365 Bears Drawn on My Phone
2.) A Collage A Day
3.) 365 Portraits

Do you have a daily creative project we should know about? Or one you’re thinking about starting? Please share in the comments.Go tell Michelle you like this on her Twitter feed, too!



Thinking of starting a daily project?

This book is like a personal creativity coach—full of inspiration and ideas:


The eyes have it. From  Scalin’s Skull-A-Day project.



Making something every day forces you to get creative about things like medium.


Real skull, fully dressed, of Noah Scalin.

Photo by Mark Mitchell.

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    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Neenah Paper, Michelle Taute. Michelle Taute said: My first post for the @NeenahPaper blog: A Q&A with @NoahScalin on daily creative projects (with skulls!): […]