How my single spark of curiosity lead to global acclaim, multiple commissions, an online store, and a load of new knowledge.

The craft which lead me towards global exposure, a good sum of passive income, multiple commissions for several big companies, and most importantly a heap of new knowledge, all ignited out of a single spark of curiosity. The start was that simple, but the journey was quite complicated.

Some time during 2008 I was randomly browsing the interwebs, looking for inspiration, when the digital forces lead me to bertsimons.nl. There I was presented with multiple works of Bert Simons, a Netherlands based designer of various things. The link I followed specifically pointed out his 3D paper head replica, which anyone could download, print, assemble, and send a photo back to him to be included in a gallery. What a strange concept, I thought to myself. Who would want to build another guy’s head? I left, slightly impressed and completely creeper out.

Two weeks later, Bert’s DIY paper head project resurrected in my mind like a vision from God, like a bolt of lightning to the back of the head, whack! I rushed online to get another look at this very strange, but very intriguing doodad. However, not being able to recall his name led me to a tireless two day search until I finally landed at the destination. There it was again, so unmistakably,… different. Why did he make it? More importantly, HOW did he make it? I had to build it just to find out if this thing was for real and not some clever CGI trickery.

After downloading Bert’s DIY templates, printing, cutting, folding and gluing a type of media I never made before, sure enough, I had a printed replica of the guy’s head sitting in front of me. BRILLIANT!!! I goofed-off with it for some time and eventually emailed Bert photos for his replica head gallery.*

I couldn’t stop thinking about this unique project, trying to solve in my head all of its technical aspects. I thought, if Bert can design such a thing, then I will too! Thus, I set on a 80 hour journey to create a replica of my head using paper. In the end I succeeded, but oh boy was the end result hacked. I had at the time only basic 3D modeling skills which I obtained here and there. This challenge forced me to learn UV Mapping and texturing. Not knowing about specialized paper engineering software I drew all fold lines and glue tabs in Photoshop! The experiment was complete, a paper replica of my head sitting there staring at me.

In my living room, making final touch-ups on… myself.

I was completely hooked. For the first time I was able to design something digital then assemble it into a three dimensional model and let anyone around the world do the same. During the next seven years this newly discovered set of skills led me on a wild creative adventure of new experiments, lessons, tools and everything else mentioned in the title of this post.

What does this story of random inspiration and personal discovery have to do with you? When you come across something which stuns you with curiosity, don’t let it pass you by. Think about it, study it, learn it, dream of it, and most importantly work hard at it. This surge of curiosity could lead to new hidden talents, new skills for your day job, a source of passive income, a source of inspiration for others, or a solution to a humanitarian problem.

What spark of inspiration is igniting the creative flame within you today?

Taras at VisualSpicer.com


* Bert and I have had several interesting communications since then, discussing projects and sharing design methods.