Albert Einstein got his ideas while shaving. Henry Ford said he plucked them from the air around him. Inventor Dominic Wilcox says it just takes a good bath to get the genius flowing.
Dominic Wilcox is a serial inventor. He carries a sketchbook around with him at all times, in which he draws designs for things that have never existed before.
He’s invented things like queue headrests, toothbrush maracas, and a ‘sitting on the fence’ seat. And that’s just scratching the surface. In the summer, he’s getting a book published that’s stuffed with novel inventions. It’s called Variations on Normal.
“People are always asking me where I get ideas from,” says Dominic. “I spend most of my life finding ideas. I don’t have a work life balance.”
In a recent talk on imagination in London, Dominic gave away the following tips for how to avoid inventor’s block, and how to make your mind into a production-line of fresh ideas.
Be on the look-out
“You have to be on the look out for ideas. It takes a mental effort. It’s easy to stop looking when you get caught up in everyday life. You have to switch-on your imagination. You have to use your third eye.”
Take things apart
“Experiment with materials. I once melted some toy soldiers under the grill to see what would happen. The material was perfect to make bowls with.”
Ignore face value
“You get ideas when you take an everyday object and give it a twist. I once made coat hangers out of paint brushes.”
“Rather than procrastinating on ideas, keep things fast. When you think about things for too long, you start to think about the problems, and then you give up on the idea.”
Have a bath
“I get a lot of ideas in the bath. I think it’s because you’re cut off and you’ve nowhere to go. I had the idea for my nose stylus in the bath. It’s an invention for using your touchscreen when you have wet hands.”
Don’t be afraid to be ridiculous
“There’s always a way back from ridiculous. Don’t be afraid to put humour into your inventions. Ridiculous things can turn into logical things, too.”