Our InvENtor Spotlight for March features Pamela Valentine! Pamela has been a member of the Edison Nation community since 2009 and is an active Insider!
Where is your home town?
I grew up on a five acre, non-working farm in central New Jersey. There, I spent as much time as possible outdoors — building forts, playing by the creek, and honing my landscaping skills. When forced to be inside, I spent most of my time reading, writing and making art. I know that this idyllic setting has influenced me a lot in my art, and I am grateful every day for the lessons I learned in my childhood.
Where do you currently reside?
I live in the exceedingly quaint, historical landmark town of Ocean Grove, New Jersey. The town is bordered on three sides by water – the Atlantic to the east and lakes on the southern and northern edges; my apartment is situated on one of those lakes. It is, to me, an ideal situation: I get the benefits of lake life by walking out onto my wraparound porch, have less than a 10 minute walk to the ocean and am just steps away from a footbridge over the lake to Asbury Park – a rapidly developing little city full of culture and good food. I draw inspiration from my surroundings on a daily basis, and when not heading into the water to body-board (one of my three great passions), I can often be found trolling the beach for scraps of lumber to paint on.
What is your professional background?
I have been an artist and writer for as long as I can remember, and no matter how hard I try to settle into “real” jobs, I cannot escape my urges to create. I currently work in a municipal office full time, and take on whatever freelance projects I can find as a graphic artist to feed my need to create. Currently, I am designing logos for new businesses, working on a new line of greeting cards, exploring nail polish as a medium and ghostwriting a book for a friend.
How did you initially hear about Edison Nation?
I cannot recall exactly how I learned about Edison Nation, but I know that once I found it, I was hooked! Even if none of my ideas ever makes it to market, it is thrilling to take on the challenges presented here, and I absolutely love the illustration part of the submission process. Each presentation I make to EN starts with a name for my project, and then the fun part – designing the logo and drawing the product!
Have you ever collaborated with another inventor(s) on a project? If so, how was that experience for you?
I work with friends, sometimes, in conceiving an idea, and am always thrilled when someone suggests an innovation or new product to me, but mostly I work solo and I enjoy that. Presenting new designs and products to friends is always very satisfying for me. I would love the opportunity to illustrate product ideas for others in this community! I really like the challenge of illustrating new ideas, and become a better artist with each project.
What are some general industry trends you have noticed recently?
I see a big push toward convenience — anything to make our busy lives easier — as well as nostalgia in the form of us, as a society, looking back to days when leisure time was requisite in each week. I have some negative thoughts about “hipsters”, but, the design aesthetic present in today’s businesses is lovely, with all the exposed brick and hand-lettered signage, and … damn, they sure do coffee with friends the right way!
Do you find that invention ideas come to you or do you have to go after them?
I am happy to say that ideas for innovation occur to me randomly during the course of almost every day of my life. It was eye-opening to me when a friend pointed out that not EVERY brain works like mine, and I consider myself truly blessed to envision new products or innovations as easily as I do. It’s kind of fun, being me.
What advice would you tell others just embarking on their inventing journey?
- Do not hold back. What your fear may tell you is a silly idea may, in fact, be just the the thing the world is waiting for.
- Take everything as a lesson learned.
- Have fun with it, whatever it is!
What inspired you to start inventing?
I guess, as an artist and writer, I’ve been inventing all my life – creating new worlds in the form of a short story, painting a landscape that exists nowhere on this planet except in my mind. But, haha – I think being an Aquarian has been a driving force behind my forays into invention: though we have our faults, for sure, Aquarians are said to always be a few steps ahead of society, and as idealists, we look for paths to a better world.
When did you come up with your first great idea?
Often, invention ideas come when I am talking with friends, and frequently, these things start as a part of an ongoing joke. We’ll be going along and somebody will say something like, “You know what we need right now?” and as humorous suggestions pass between us (another bottle of wine, a winning lottery ticket, cookies), eventually someone will say something that clicks in my brain, and I think, “Oh. That would actually be a great product!” and I run with it. That is exactly the case with my “first great idea” – we were sitting on the beach, just chatting and the idea popped into my head. I haven’t submitted that idea to EN yet, but now that I’m reminded of it, perhaps I will…
What do you consider your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?
My biggest failure in life, I think, was not believing early on that I could make a living as an artist, and so art became something I did just for fun. Had I pursued a degree in art, my life would be much richer, I think. In the world of invention, I fail over and over again to do the deeper research needed to determine if my idea is, indeed, novel. I’ve learned that homework is important!
You have been an EN member since 2009, can you provide us with some details around your experiences and journey to date?
Wow — thanks for keeping track of that! Happy 8-year anniversary to us!
I’ve noticed that there are periods when I will drift away – for no clear reason – from EN for months at a time, but I keep coming back.
Having a platform such as this in which to promote my ideas and showcase my talents as an illustrator is somewhat addictive. I enjoy reading comments and questions from others in the Forums, and despite the basic competitive nature of Innovation Searches, I find this community to be extremely helpful and supportive to all. I’ve had four ideas make it all the way to the finalist stage, and I think that’s really cool. I think, even if none of my submissions are ever brought to market through Edison Nation, I’m having a lot of fun being a part of the community, and always list “inventing” as an art form when asked what kind of art I do. Even when I lose, I win!
What are some other fun facts about yourself that you’d like to share with the EN community?
I am an avid and adventurous cook, and EATER. My favorite cuisine is Ethiopian because of the amazing food, of course, but also because there is a deep-rooted sense of community and sharing to be had in an Ethiopian meal.
Living at the beach, I am free to body-board as often as possible, and I do. It can be an intense workout, physically, and my soul is soothed by that communion with nature. I am awed on a daily basis by the power of water.
Many of my friends are 20 or more years younger than me, and they teach me as much as I teach them.
I love Instagram because it shows me parts of the world I may never have the opportunity to visit, and gives me a ready audience whenever I am alone and see something really cool or beautiful or interesting. (I’m on Instagram as semisweetpammyv. I used to use sweetpammyv but decided some time ago to practice truth in advertising. I’ve occasionally gone under the name bittersweetpammyv for the same reason.)
I know that I am lucky to have both an inventive mind, and the ability to present my concepts visually. I would love to connect with other inventors who might need help illustrating their ideas.
And, finally: I really like answering questions about myself. As it turns out, I’m just as curious about myself as I am about the world around me. Thanks for this opportunity for introspection!
We thank Pamela for sharing some of her journey with us and for being a wonderful member of the EN community!