Idea #24: How to Use Ear Plugs Without Looking Like a Goofball

See also Idea #20: Why Music Venues Should Be Required to have Publicly Accessible Sound Meters

The Problem

I go dancing quite a bit but the venues play the music at unsafe levels. The immediate solution is earplugs, but reusable earplugs are just gross. And disposable ones make you look like a hammerhead shark.

The Solution

Watch the video!

Idea #22: A Coloring Book You Have to Ink First

The Problem

Coloring books come pre-inked so my children (or whoever is coloring) will never be challenged to use a pen or brush with precision. In addition, I'm a firm believer that a strong background in tracing leads to great drawing abilities.

The Solution

Not surprisingly, the solution is a coloring book that doesn't come pre-inked. In fact, it could be a whole line of coloring books ranging from typical children-style versions with cartoons to grown-up versions with more complex illustrations. I would be interested in this grown-up version if it had pencils from my favorite artists (or a variety) for sure and perforated pages so you can detach the art and hang it up after you've created it. Perhaps for the uber nerd a variety of styles would also be included to challenge your inking abilities.

Of necessity, the paper quality would need to be suitable for holding ink, and the entire product line would of course not be suitable for very young children.

Idea #21: Per-chapter & per-page purchasing for non-fiction Books

The Problem

Non-fiction books are like a music album - 8 out of 10 of the songs I just don't want, like, or need. Why should I have to pay for the stuff I'm not interested in just to get access to the information I am? 

The Solution

Per-chapter and in some cases per-page purchasing of book content. Give me a TASTE of each chapter of the book, then let me decide if I want everything or just certain chapters. It's no different than what iTunes did for the music album.

Why this would be useful

Art Collecting & Study

I can only speak for myself, but in the world of art books I simply don't feel like I have the need to purchase all of an artist's content or sketchbook. In many cases I only like a selection of an artists' work. Do I really need to drop $30 or $50 just to get the 3-10 images (not even digitized ... ) in print form that I want? This same concept could also encourage numerous smaller micro-payments on something as simple as an Instagram post. Can you imagine if each time someone liked your content they were instead donating .05 to you?  Maybe that's another idea altogether ...

Business Study

A lot of business books fill their pages with case studies. I hate that crap. Here's a $5 book with 2 basic ideas and here's $10 of case studies proving why the 2 ideas are worthwhile. I would shoot myself if I had to listen to all these case studies on Audible. I don't care about case studies. Just give me the meat and cut the rest. It will also allow us as consumers to tell you what we really are looking for.



Idea #20: Why music venues should be required to have publicly accessible Sound Meters

The Problem

I go dancing a lot and sometimes I wonder if my hearing will be damaged from the loud music. Why should I have to wonder this? Don't I have a right to know if a band or DJ is playing their music too loud? It's not subjective - it's science.

The Solution

Pass laws that require music venues to maintain public sound meters both near the speakers / band and on the opposite end of the room/venue. These meters should be easy to read so that even an idiot will know whether the sound being produced is within a safe level to prevent permanent hearing loss. At least at that point it's a matter of choice, not chance.



Idea #19 - Why Science should pay the world's best digital artists to visualize their dreams

Dreams are cool. Dreams are weird. Dreams are mostly ignored.

But why do we ignore them? If there is anything fascinating in this life, it’s dreams. What is it about dreams that makes people reluctant, even apprehensive to talk about them?

Is it because dreams still confound us despite our best efforts? What we know is minuscule compared to what we don’t know.

Outrageous claims surround dreams. Seeing the future. Meeting loved ones. Inventing. Knowing impossible things. But most of all: why even have them to begin with? Where exactly is the dream world? What is it? Because it’s not this world. It’s not even like using one’s imagination. It’s something altogether different. AND I FOR ONE WANT TO KNOW WHAT AND WHY!

In the last 20 years, for the first time in history, artists have been empowered with a digital revolution. Artists are faster, better, and more versatile than ever before. Talented digital artists can paint, draw, and sculpt almost anything they can imagine in a matter of minutes, and I believe that such a gift should not be used solely for entertainment. We need some of these artists to help us decipher the world of dreams from the inside out.

A world-class artist could easily paint a few digital paintings and numerous drawings during the hours immediately following a dream. With advances in VR on the near horizon, it will not be long before a digital artist will even be able to recreate the environments of his or her dreams in a way that others can experience them “like a dream."

If you could live someone else’s dream, would you want to? If you were seen in someone else’s dream would you be interested to know what happened? If you spoke in someone else’s dream would you want to know what you said?

If there were a YouTube channel that told other people’s dreams using world-class artwork would you subscribe to it?

If we had dozens of artists “drawing their dreams" on a daily basis do you think we would learn more about the dream world in a year? In 5 years? In 10?

I believe it’s a no-brainer. As an artist, an adventurer, and a dreamer, I see the dream world, not Mars, as our next great frontier. It’s a fascinating universe of discovery, symbols, and chaos.

Let’s start making our nightly dreams - not our waking dreams - a reality - and see what happens next!

Idea #18: Why I Chose to Give Away My Sketchbook Rather Than Shelve It

This idea is currently being executed in the form of Free Sketch Night @ 311 Gallery each First Friday Raleigh.

The Problem

Real animators are rare, and as such most people never meet one unless they go to a comic convention or live in LA. I didn't find exposure to real animators until college in my mid-20s, and all through school I was behind my peers because of it. If you think a good piano teacher is hard to find -- try finding a good animation instructor!

The Solution

Host a regular Free Sketch Night in the community with the primary purpose of increasing local awareness of animation and animation careers.

Rather than hoard my drawings until I die in sketchbooks that just collect dust I choose to draw on looseleaf paper and give all my sketches away each month at a local gallery during our monthly art festival First Friday Raleigh. In addition, I draw custom sketches from 6pm - 9pm.

Participants can choose to wait for a custom sketch of anything THEY dream up, or pick a sketch (while supplies last) from my free sketchbook.

How does this help me as an artist?

First, allowing others to "borrow" my skill set for a few minutes to bring to life an idea of their own devising is extraordinarily fulfilling for me!

Second, it keeps me drawing regularly and pushes my boundaries because I don't want to disappoint!

Third, it helps drive traffic for the host gallery, which helps my community which I live in.

Finally, sketch recipients are encouraged to share their sketches on social media and tag me, which never hurts!

Idea #16: Digital Color Space Diagrams for Real Paints

The Problem

I’ve been considering getting into painting (like real painting … with oils), but there is a very large selection of paints to choose from in this world. Because of the highly technical ways of creating paints (also called chemistry), it is widely known that all brands and even all colors within a brand are not created equal. Buying paints randomly is not practical as quality tubes can cost $40+/tube. I can go to a few artists and find publicly posted preferences, but what I really need is a way to determine the color space of a given tube/product line and compare/contrast the technical specifications of the paint.

The Solution

A 3D diagram like the color space utility on Macs, primarily used for monitor and printer color-syncing, but for real-world paint brands. Such a tool can *perhaps* be created from information contained in the technical specs of the various painting companies that is sometimes published. More likely, however, someone out there will need to just buy every single paint, use them, let them dry, scan them in, and process them the same way printer color spaces are processed.

A quick note about color spaces

Color space can be intimidating, but it’s just not that hard so don’t get scared by it. The image below compares two color spaces using Mac’s ColorSync Utility. The white one is obviously larger and has more color than the other.


By comparison the image below is the inverse. You can see how a tool like this could quickly help you compare one product line of paint to another.


Idea #15: Why Ex-Disney-Infinity Employees Should Form a New Company

For those that may read this and aren’t aware of it, Disney laid off around 300 employees this past week, most of them in Salt Lake City. 

Having gone to animation school with many of these professionals, I have seen a flurry of “goodbyes” “so sorries” and “hope for the bests” posted on Facebook the last few days. This is the natural reaction to such news. But I think that there is a HUGE opportunity that will be lost if quick action isn’t taken by those laid off to form a new company and capitalize off the national media coverage your lay-offs have created. In short, this is what I am suggesting: 

The top 20% of those that were laid off  (top 40-50 people or so) need to physically gather at someone’s house and form a new company THIS WEEK and publicly announce two things by mid next week: 1) we’re staying in Salt Lake City and 2) we’re still going to make great video games, the first of which will be launched on Kickstarter in June. 


1.  A unified public announcement in the next week from 40+ ex-Disney Infinity employees will certainly draw national attention. 

Why? Because it’s a GREAT STORY, people! EVERYONE wants to do something awesome when they get laid off, but usually there’s not enough people do it with. In this case, there’s both a physical proximity and a TON OF PEOPLE in the same boat. In addition, there’s also a HUGE audience for Disney Infinity and every major national newspaper has already announced your LAY OFFS as hit stories (I found out from my iPhone news app, not Facebook, for example). A quick google search shows stories in LA Times, Washington Post, NY Times, etc etc etc. Following it up with a great comeback and reaching out to all the people that wrote the lay-off stories to help you spread the word of the new endeavor just makes sense! The opportunity is staring you in the face – TAKE IT! 

2. Your alternative to staying together is to compete with each other for jobs you probably don’t want anyway and that the lower-performing 80% of employees are plenty qualified for.

The reality is not everyone can jump in this adventure bandwagon because …

3. A small elite team is attractive to investors and super hard to gather in one place (ask your HR!), while a big bloated team is an impossible sell and not good for start ups.

Unfortunately, the new company will have to be an invite-only venture.

4. Staying together and forming a new gaming studio allows you to return to what you do best – making original IPs for families.

Remember that canned Jabberwocky game? Make something like that.

5. Together, you are the Infinity Team and Disney Infinity is a household name.

So if you’re ever going to try to sell a NEW PRODUCT or GET INVESTMENT, NOW’S THE TIME before the team disperses in 6 weeks to new jobs and everyone becomes “a person that worked on Infinity” not THE PEOPLE THAT BROUGHT YOU DISNEY INFINITY. You’ve been to infinity, now it’s time to go beyond it!

6. Kickstarting a new game, as a unified ex-Disney Infinity team, in the next 6 weeks, is incredibly valuable and VITAL for your success.

Here’s a list of things it does for you, with virtually no drawbacks

  • As the “laid-off” underdog, it matters not whether you win or lose the Kickstarter;  the public, the media, and any future employers will love you for trying
  • It allows you to prove your abilities to yourself and others by making something amazing in the next 4-6 weeks and presenting it to the world
  • It will financially validate your new company. If the world loves your new idea, they will preorder it even if the delivery date is years out. They WANT to help you live your dreams. Give them a chance to. There are plenty of precedents of years-long preorders for video games on Kickstarter (Star Citizen comes to mind). If it doesn’t work the only thing you lost is time and 6 weeks of bills
  • It proves your real-world value to investors. Saying “we raised $1 million on Kickstarter already” is a lot easier to pitch to investors than “we will make a great game for sure”
  • If the Kickstarter is successful, it buys you time to find investors or, at the worst, buys you time for the other 80% to take the current job opps on the market and leaves you time until it’s not so saturated with talented folk. As the previous leaders of Infinity, it seems like the moral thing to do, otherwise, you’ll steal jobs you’re not a good fit for from people that are a good fit for them. 

7. Staying together will improve your local economy. 

Disperse and the animation industry in Utah will suffer.

8. Half or more of the 20% can still be applying for jobs. 

Only the people required for the Kickstarter pitch and acquiring investors or running the show need to be focused 100%.

The rest just need to have a public “gentleman’s agreement” that if the kickstarter is successful in mid-July they will come on board, but they can still be looking for that new opp. It’s only when people have a job offer in writing that they have to make a decision

9. You can know you did your best to create dream jobs for all the people you care about that are in a less-than-ideal situation, too.

Win or lose, you can rest easy at night even if you end up in a job that’s just not so great.

10. Finally, the last reason you should do this is to help ward off the fear of the unknown for yourself and all your friends, and every other laid-off person that hears your story.

Being jobless is scary. I’ve been there. Having a friend that says “We’re going to make a job if we have to!” and helps you do it can make the difference.

So. That’s my two cents Hopefully it’s helpful. Good luck y'all!