Artist Noah Scalin Chats About His New VCU Business Appointment


A portrait of legendary Richmonder Mr. Bojangles made with pennies by artist Noah Scalin. - NOAH SCALIN
  • Noah Scalin
  • A portrait of legendary Richmonder Mr. Bojangles made with pennies by artist Noah Scalin.

A few weeks ago, it was announced that the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business will host its first ever artist-in-residence during the upcoming 2016­–2017 academic year. That artist is celebrated local Noah Scalin, whom you may remember from his Skull-a-Day project and book, published by Chop Suey.

Scalin's duties will include helping the school institute its new strategic plan, which aims to "drive the future of business through the power of creativity." To that end, he'll be conducting creative-thinking seminars as well as guest lecturing and creating large-scale installations with students; there will also be a 30-day Creative Sprint challenge in October and during the spring semester which he'll have details on soon, he says.

Scalin told Style that he was extremely honored to be selected and he believes it was a forward-thinking move by the school.

"It’s a recognition that fostering creative business cultures leads to more consistent innovations," he says. "This isn’t about adding some creative frosting on a finished cake, this is about recognizing that creativity is an ingredient that needs to be baked into all businesses if they’re to be successful in the 21st century."

Scalin's appointment is the result of art and innovation consulting he's been doing over the last six years with Fortune 500 companies.

"This work is built directly on the lessons I learned from my own yearlong Skull-A-Day creativity practice," he explains. "The process of reigniting my own creative fires helped me discover that creative is a practice. And not only is creativity something that you can can develop over time, but it’s something anyone can practice and benefit from."

Scalin notes that what he heard most consistently from his corporate clients was that there was a real need for a more creative workforce -- right now.

"It doesn’t matter the job title, every single employee is being required to think differently about the way they get their job done to stay competitive in today’s volatile business world," he says.

"The sad thing is, I’m frequently talking to a room of extremely talented and successful people who say things like, 'I don’t have a creative bone in my body.' And they’re being asked to pivot the way they think and act and they just don’t have the tools to do it. What’s great is that artists are some of the most consistent innovators in the world and the tools and practices we’ve developed are actually incredibly valuable in this business setting as well. The most progressive businesses are recognizing this and understand why they need artist consultants."

The VCU School of Business touts that it ranks in the top 5 percent of business schools worldwide due to its AACSB International-accreditation.