Idea Development — The Smaller Picture pg236–237

Colorful companion to my memoir The Incompetent Psychic

Faux Louvre festival booth


That summer I painted my last three stage sets at Woodminster Amphitheater, and vowed if I had to work that hard it would need to be a lot more fun or much more lucrative. I was billing $75 an hour for murals and figured out at the end of that last theatrical debacle I had netted about $14 an hour for painting aerobically on a dangerous scaffold in the blazing sun.

Simple answer was, get more mural jobs. Thing is, the pool of clients is teeny — like maybe one in 10,000 people of means will commission an expensive mural project once in their life. How the hell do you find those few hidden rich people at the exact time they’re looking for an artist? So far luck, magic and word-of-mouth was how I had managed to trip over those gold nuggets on the beach my life is.

Then another idea dropped out of a silver cloud. If I built my own festival booth I could do enough decorative painting on it to advertise my mural business, too. —From Chapter 13

A concept I discovered over decades of hit and miss trials (and worth repeating), is to be discerning about which idea is worth it to run with. Any freelance creative type person is visited with at least one original product idea every day. Most are harebrained, pie-in-the-clouds leaps of fantasy that trigger the next ‘but what if…?’ This is what notebooks are for. My brilliant sister came up with an idea to publish her notebook as ‘Copyright-Free Ideas’ for someone else to pursue.

Launching an idea for a new product is where investment gets serious. An inventor needs to be their own research scientist, contractor and shark tank to go from worthy concept to marketplace… and the eventual, fantastical reality of actual sales. This takes at minimum a full year of obsessive concentration and ten thousand dollars, which means the idea had better be a good one… good enough for people to be willing to actually buy it. My idea to interpret old masters art with up-cycled frames eventually rewarded the investment of my life. Tying it in with promoting my mural service at art festivals made it sustainable over time. The Faux Louvre series gave me passion, education, travel, connections with wonderful people and a livelihood over fifteen years.

My genius sister weighed the time and money it would take to write & publish a book of discarded ideas to give away vs doing something more fun. She’s building a house finished with moldings reclaimed from discarded carved wood furniture instead. It’s pretty amazing.

A signed copy of Mernie’s memoir is available at

Unsigned copies can be ordered wherever books are sold.