A. There’s always tea on it. Either iced or hot.
B. There’s usually a cat on it. See him sitting on the monitor at the right? His name is Panther. His mother Willow is usually somewhere else.
C. The remote control is for my stereo. I always work with music on.
D. Yes that is a Dalek toy from the most recent season of Doctor Who.
E. Yes I have taped Post-it notes to my monitor. Apparently they don’t stay sticky forever.
F. The cell phone dock is a vintage rotary phone with a bluetooth handset.
G. I can’t seem to keep a mousepad for long, so the current one is just a piece of corrugated cardboard.
H. The work on my screen is a recent piece I did for the Atwater Village Theatre in LA.
NOAH SCALIN: Both of my parents are artists. I grew up in a household where biological images, including those of skulls & skeletons, were commonplace and considered intriguing rather than repulsive. Initially, I liked them because I was interested in how things worked and loved knowing what was beneath the surface of our skin. In college, the meaning shifted to the concept of memento mori: a reminder of death that inspires one to live life more fully. Skull-A-Day was really the pinnacle of that mindset, since I spent the year meditating on the skull while being more engaged & present in each day than I had ever been before.
I think by its very nature, a site run entirely on submissions never gets stale.
NS: I’d been a fan of the Mütter Museum for a long time. Anna Dhody, the museum’s curator, got in touch with me out of the blue. She initially asked me to give talk for their annual Dia de Los Muertos celebration and we developed a friendship. When she later got in touch about the book, I immediately offered to come up and make a piece at the museum. I had no idea what I would create; I just showed up with my camera and said, “What can I work with?” She brought me to the basement and after showing me a few other things, pointed to dozens of stacks of acrylic coated brain slices and said , “Could you work with those?” Of course I jumped at the opportunity.
I felt honored to examine so many human brains and not only handle them, but create something new with them. Each person died of some brain related problem. I was able to see how those manifested in a way that no book or scan can replicate. I thought a lot about those people’s lives and deaths as I worked, though the experience was ultimately quite lighthearted and a lot of fun.
NS: The most challenging were the simplest crafts: cross-stitch and latch hook. They don’t take much skill and anyone can do them, but the fact I was trying to complete the projects in a day made a pleasant pastime a monotonous and painful ordeal. I felt I was getting a tiny glimpse of what it was like to have a sweatshop job. It made me appreciate the work that so many people have to do everyday for so little pay.
The meaning shifted to the concept of memento mori: a reminder of death that inspires one to live life more fully.
NS: I believe the one I carved out of my own tooth is the smallest.
FYD: What are the top three most radical skull submissions you’ve received?
NS: That’s a tough one since we’ve been posting a skull everyday since I finished my project in June of 2008. One of my absolute favorite submissions came from the USMC Skulz, a group of marines based in Iraq who were inspired by the site to do a bit of their own creative work. I was just blown away that in the midst of one of the worst situations they found a bit of inspiration in my site.
I also love seeing when people take my work to another level. Graffiti artists How&Nosm used my Skullphabet #1 font to create a graffiti piece and Posterchild used my Skullphabet #2. I’m enjoying things people are submitting for our charity quilt, being coordinated by one of our site’s co-editors Abby. These have been coming from people who don’t necessarily work with skull imagery and the results have been extremely impressive, like this cat.