Skulls : By Noah Scalin, 180 pgs. By Todd Taylor

Jan 15, 2009

Orson Welles, whose best work came early (although his Paul Mason wine commercials were pretty sweet), stated, “The absence of boundaries is the enemy of art.” The basic idea is that if an artist has boundless resources, time, and comfort, they become trapped in their own bubble since there’s no motivation to get out of it. And the result is usually really soft, self-indulgent poo. Skulls is a great coffee table book. The gist is an artist, Noah Scalin, posted one rendering of a skull a day for a year on his website ( 365 skulls out of any medium from Vegemite on glass, to acorns, to arranged bed sheets, to chair backs, to cut-up soles of sneakers, to more traditional mediums like painting a pregnant lady’s belly with a skull. Anyone who has a long-term focus (cough, DIY punk, cough), will develop a special type of radar, seeing ordinary things that can be transformed—often with a flick of the wrist or rescued from the dumpster—into something that fits into their vision. And that’s what Skulls does. It uses the triple prongs of creativity, self-imposed focus, and discipline to show the world through a slightly different lens. It’s a world with a bit more order, beauty, and meaning. Skulls is especially sweet since there are some DIY projects in here, too. I made my nephews little 3-D paper skulls for Halloween. They dug ‘em. –Todd (Lark Books,