Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Here’s the truth. I’m a big fan of . . .

As a kid, my family never saw a Star Wars movie. Dr. Who was literally followed by a question mark because no one knew anything about him except to turn the channel when the weird logo and music popped up on PBS. We didn’t own an Atari or have cable tv. My dad was sure Betamax would win out over VHS. In short, my family did not excel at anything geeky. We chose James Bond over Obi-Wan, Skipper and Little Buddy over Battlestar Galactica, and the escapades of singing siblings over Superman.

An unspoken requirement to marriage was that I needed to at least have a vague understanding of Star Wars to keep up with conversation in Ryan’s family. (And also watch one one John Wayne movie, but that’s another story.) And, as it turned out, I liked the movies. A lot.

Next, came the easy move to video games. For months, Doom and Wolfenstein would win out over TV. The Baron of Hell and I became late-night buddies on the computer. My fandom began to insidiously grow.

fan·dom

ˈfandəm/noun

noun: fandom; plural noun: fandoms

the state or condition of being a fan of someone or something.

  • the fans of a particular person, team, fictional series, etc., regarded collectively as a community or subculture.

Now, I can proudly boast that I have very high levels of “geek” in my veins. I’m hooked on anything from Marvel to Harry Potter or Dr. Who to Game of Thrones. (Please don’t even get me started on how much I love subtitled Kung Fu movies . . . ) Basically, if any book, movie, or tv show has a trace of science fiction, fantasy, superpowers (and/or Benedict Cumberbatch or Jackie Chan), I’m all over it. (We have a small Dr. Who themed Christmas tree. Yes, I really did that.) 

I seriously love being a fan. I love the mini-fig tchotchkes in my office. But, don’t be deceived—all this is for more than just complete entertainment and personal amusement. I figured out that my fandom has a real-life benefit: My fandoms help with my job!  

My fandoms encourage creativity. As I absorb creative ideas and stories, my grey matter is creatively fed, my thinking expands, and the more creative I become. Ergo, I have new ideas. As I learn about  stories of magical other worlds, unbelievable super powers, sprawling kingdoms and deep recesses of space, I’ve got more ideas to nurture and mull over and put to use. These stories inspire new thinking and creativity.

My fandoms help me keep up with trends. Everyone can see how much space licensed toys take up on toy shelves. Understanding the stories behind the toy is necessary in order to be able to design for them if we need/want to.

[Me to Ryan: I think we might need to buy this Thor action figure to see how his hammer slamming mechanism works. Ryan to me: Yeah, we probably do. *secret fist pump that I got another Thor for my office*]

So, whenever the master license for Fortnite gets assigned and toys need made, Gigglicious is ready to design courtesy of the hours and hours devoted to game play by our younger employees. They are smack on top of that trend.

Making and taking time to get off auto-pilot. For Gigglicious to creatively move forward, we frequently need to step out of the routine in order to spark new thinking. Ryan tends to finds inspiration when he’s vacationing and away from the studio.  My spark comes from filling my brain with all kinds of stories, so I am always on the hunt for new things to absorb and draw upon. Sometimes just physically being in the library gets my brain moving.

What can you take away from my story today? Here’s my answer: You just never know when what you do, what you read, what you watch, and what you love can become the inspiration for something much, much bigger if you are open to it.

I have frequently indulged in all sorts of fancies for hours together, and at times when people thought I was very busy. I am sensible how detrimental this is as regards loss of time; yet without some such “fantasy-cure,” I should have never made it to this age. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799)

Part 1: The Creative Process and all the Einsteins out there in the Universe

It’s a big world out there with ideas swirling around like crazy.  Just take one trip to a big box store and see the expanding garden hoses and you’ll get what I mean.    Who knew that was a good idea and would sell like hotcakes?!  (That’s not really an endorsement, I’ve never used one, but the commercials are CONVINCING!)  There are lots and lots of Einsteins in the Universe.  The difference is that an inventor stops to make the good idea and tries to figure out how to get it to the public so they can share in the good idea with them! (and tries to make a few bucks in the process…)

When someone finds out we invent for a living, a very popular response is, “Oh, I have an idea for something that everyone will use” or “I come up with ideas for stuff all the time, but I don’t know what to do with it.”  Yep, we all do it.  Something just occurs to you: “I wish that I had a FILL IN THE BLANK to help me FILL IN THE BLANK.”  That’s what makes good ideas.  It just happens that our FILL IN THE BLANK is to help kids and adults BE HAPPY AND HAVE FUN TOGETHER.

Pardon the cliche, but we kinda think ideas are a dime a dozen.  Most aren’t good and few are really, really exceptional.  We have all kinds of ideas all the time and at Gigglicious, but we never hang on just one.  Some inventors do. They come up with one idea and schlep it around to toy companies for years.  That isn’t our business model.  Our logic is that if one didn’t work, we can come up with another one.  We keep the old idea in the arsenal and bring it back out if we see a fit with someone or have something to add on to it.

But, maybe you are curious about HOW we come up with the ideas for toys, games, and novelties?  Inspiration is everywhere and we simply try to stay conscious about keeping an eye out for it.  That’s the secret.  We aren’t geniuses, we just think about toys, games, and mechanisms ALL the time.

Albert-EinsteinInspiration can be found in a trip to the toy section, surfing the internet, our own kids playing a made up game together, a magazine article, a conversation, a vacation, and even a trip to the home improvement store.  Sometimes we sit down and consciously noodle about a particular niche we want to fill for a specific company.  Often, for the measly cost of a Chinese dinner, our kids will sit and draw and think with us.  (Turns out it’s a small cost because they are good at designing!)

I couldn’t sleep the other night, so to fill the time, I figured I’d start ideating.  I generally start by imagining a that I own a toy store.  What toys would I want to see on the shelves?  That gets my brain running.  I came up with four reasonable ideas and another handful of ideas that seemed revolutionary at the time, but not so magical once the sun came up.  (Everything you think of at 3 am always seems to be a stroke of genius, right?)

Inspiration doesn’t always come when you want it to and mostly does when you aren’t paying close attention.  So, we just work to be conscious of the thoughts in the back of our heads.  No magic formula for coming up with ideas, just patience and putting in the time to think and imagine.

So, we came up with an idea!  What’s next?  Stay tuned for Part II!

If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.  ~Albert Einstein

Ideas are like wandering sons.  They show up when you least expect them.  ~Bern Williams