Roger Scholbrock doesn’t create art. He lives it. And that’s a big reason for his recent promotion.
Over the past three decades, Roger Scholbrock has been an integral part of the quality, creativity, and collaborative spirit that makes McCullough Creative stand out. In recognition of his impact, he was recently promoted to the role of Senior Art Director and Illustrator. Copywriter Jeff Montgomery sat down with Roger to discuss how art is more than what he does. It’s who he is.
Jeff: First of all, congratulations are in order. Kudos on your promotion. Everyone at MC agrees, it is well deserved.
Roger: Thank you very much. It was a bit of a surprise. I wasn’t expecting it. But I am very honored by it.
Can you tell us what your new title is and what your promotion means?
My title now is senior art director and illustrator. In many ways, it means I will continue to be doing what I have done for so long here. I think it also speaks to my role as a mentor. It is part of my job to lead, to mentor, to pass on information, and to bring people up. I have been here almost 30 years, and it’s important to me to pass along that knowledge … to say ‘This is how we've done it. This is how we should be doing it. You’re doing a great job or maybe try it this way.’ I think that can help people get better and help the company get better.
Yeah, that institutional knowledge is so critical. And you’ve amassed a lot of it over the years—for many different types of projects. Can you give a little insight into what kinds of projects you work on here?
So I do a lot of design work, and I also do a lot of illustration work. Over the years, I have worked on a number of educational exhibits, display spaces, corporate environments, and nature centers. With all these different kinds of projects, there is a similar thread: I really like taking an educational approach to see how we can help people better understand our history and our past and learn about our environment.
One thing I learned about you early on is that you are really connected to the environment around you. Can you speak to that love of nature?
I have always loved being outdoors, being out in the woods. People have joked that I am kind of like Snow White in the backwoods. At home, I’ve got a mama racoon and three kits that show up at my feeder every night. I can keep track of how many different birds are in my backyard, how many skunks I’ve seen. This morning, my wife and I were watching a bunch of deer … We’ve got one mama with two yearlings that have been running around. Now we’ve got a mama with a fawn. So it’s exciting for me to get up and watch the sun come up through the trees. And the deer are coming out and the bluebirds are coming out of the birdhouse. And that ties directly back to my love for working with nature.
You’ve worked on a lot of nature centers. How does that passion for nature influence your work?
It all connects. Being out in nature is something that energizes me. Being able to take that and turn it into a concept to show people so that they can learn about nature and what’s around them, that is very important to me. And really, it is about more than just learning. It’s teaching people to have a passion and a respect for Mother Nature. It is about getting people to fall in love, not just with nature, but with the balance of nature and our responsibility to it.
You mentioned that you are big on mentoring, and I’ve seen firsthand that you are really committed to collaboration in general. Tell me about that and why collaboration is so important to you.
I think it is essential. If we isolate ourselves on an island, we can’t grow. Every step of the way, I am working with someone on the team. If I am working on a project that involves flowers, I will ask Annie (Koelker), because she is the expert on that. When I’m building something, or designing something to be built, I work with production so they know what I’m thinking and I can ask them, ‘Is this buildable?’ And when they say ‘yes’, we can move forward. That is the thing with collaboration here. If you don’t have the expertise, someone else at McCullough does. You go find it and draw them in.
There’s an element of collaboration with the client too, right?
Oh, absolutely. Working with the client throughout the process is so important. We always start with a meeting to discuss what their emphasis is. Every project has different goals and different needs. You know, it’s a real collaboration with the client. How much do they want to spend? How can we create something that is unique and exciting? They want to have ownership in it. So we try to work in a partnership with the client so that we’re feeding each other ideas and making things the very best they can be.
What inspires and energizes you outside of the office?
I mean, obviously my family. My wife and kids and grandkid. Those are a given. Outside of that, it is my faith, my artwork, and my fishing, With my artwork, I’ve specifically focused lately on my iconography. And fly-fishing is my retreat. That’s my way of letting go and just relaxing and getting away.
It seems like art is ingrained in a lot of what you do and who you are.
The way I think about art … it’s not a hobby. Actually, it’s a lifestyle. I’m always building something or carving something or making something or painting something. When I come here, I just change brushes. And I love to learn. That’s the key. I’m always learning something new in this job, and that keeps things exciting.