Our members come from all walks of life and all corners of the globe, from innovative moms and craft DIY-ers to rocket scientists and industrial designers. You name it, we’ve got ‘em all, and they all have one thing in common—they have turned to Edison Nation help bring their great ideas to market.
As the Community Manager at Edison Nation, I speak to hundreds of our members, newbies and veterans, each week. I answer questions, provide updates, and interact with you in the forums. But you know what? That’s not enough. Starting this month, I am going to be highlighting one member per month in an Inventor Q&A to give you the opportunity to get to know each other a little bit better and learn from each other’s experiences.
This month, we are kicking off this series with longtime Edison Nation member, John Vilardi.
John has been a member and inventor of EN since 2008! If you don’t recognize him from his pic and posts within the forums, you may have heard of his collaborations with EN members for 3D design work to bring their ideas to life.
To name just a few:
Want to learn more about John? Now’s your chance…
Where is your hometown?
I grew up in Huntington Station, Long Island, N.Y.
Where do you currently reside?
I moved to Leesburg, Florida, eight years ago after meeting my beautiful girlfriend Chrissy.
What is your professional background?
How did you initially hear about Edison Nation?
A very close friend of mine, Cathy Solich, turned me on to EN and I was hooked from day one.
You are an accomplished 3D artist and designer, how did you start in this industry?
I’ve drawn all my life and always was interested in the way things worked. Then came computers and it opened up a whole new world for me. I took classes at The Hendrix Institute in Graphic Communications in 2001: 3D Animation/Modeling, Web Page Design, Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator.
Right out of school I started working with Billy Tucci, Crusade Fine Arts Comics, illustrator, writer and filmmaker best known for his character, SHI. He also illustrates for Marvel, and DC Comics. I had the pleasure of working with Mr.Tucci on a short film (Some Trouble of a SeRRious Nature) doing special FX, where he really pushed me to my limits. I also worked with Sol Negrin (Cinematographer for Eddie Murphys film Coming To America) and that’s when I truly fell in love with 3D modeling.
You have worked with several Edison Nation members to date to help “bring their ideas to life,” how much of an advantage do you see in utilizing 3-D designs over standard sketches/imagery?
They say a picture speaks a thousand words. A 3D model is the next best thing for an inventor to having the product right there in your hands. A 3D model will demonstrate and educate potential buyers on your invention’s features, functionality and benefits. It’s really all about communicating your idea. Using 3D Modeling to convey your idea to a client is an amazing tool.
Once you connect with an inventor, what is your process?
After signing a Nondisclosure agreement, I try to get as much information about the invention as possible: pictures, description, similar products on the market. Anything that helps me visualize their idea. Sometimes a phone call or six. LOL! Then the fun part starts. Basic model, trying to work out the mechanics and shape, colors, textures and a lot of emails back and forth.
On average, how long do you spend working on each design?
Usually a couple of days. I try to give them just what they need to clearly communicate their idea without going overboard.
What are some trends you have noticed recently?
It seems bell bottoms are making a comeback. Seriously, anything that has to do with pets or cooking seems to be a big hit these days.
Do you find that invention ideas come to you or you have to go after them?
It’s different every time. Many times I just see the need for something and I try to work it out. Lately it’s been difficult for me to come up with anything new when I’m working on so many projects for my clients.
What advice would you tell others hoping to score a licensing deal of their own?
Most people who come up with an invention don’t know where to start or who to turn to. Scoring a licensing deal is not really my forte. Helping to produce the best possible visual products to introduce to the industry is. I’m usually hooked up with people that can do a much better job at that then myself (like Edison Nation)!
I’ll take care of the artwork and they can go after the licensing deals. I like to work with a team as long as the team works well together. It’s important that they do their part as much as I do my part. People don’t realize how much work goes into 3D rendering. Licensing a product is a long hard road and most people don’t have the time or resources (like myself).
After working in the business for 6 years I realize how nice it is to have a company like Edison Nation backing you. It’s truly a blessing.
What are some other fun facts about yourself that you’d like to share with the EN community?
I enjoy riding motorcycles although after my accident in 2012 (my motorcycle was totaled) I don’t get to ride much anymore. I found out stopping a motorcycle with my face was a bad idea. I’ll try not to do that again.
What inspired you to start inventing?
My dad. He was always coming up with ideas for toys or creating gadgets and tools. As a teenager my brothers and I helped him dig out the basement of our summer home by hand. After he constructed a ramp going up and out of the basement. He built a winch from “parts” he found at the local dump. It was just an electric motor from an old washing machine bolted to a post with a rope on a pulley. He would then switch it on to pull up a dirt-filled wagon out of the basement which was constructed from parts from a mower. It took many weekends and a lot of cold beer but we dug out the whole basement, by hand, using my dad’s inventions. Great memories, love that man. He was definitely who inspired me to start inventing
When did you come up with your first great idea?
I don’t recall my first great idea. I just know at a very early age I started taking things apart to see how they worked, and then put them back together. Completely fascinated with the mechanics. They didn’t always work when I put them back together again.
You have been an Edison Nation member since 2008, can you provide us with some details around your experiences and journey so far?
My experience as an EN member has been very rewarding. Not only with my own personal experience with the inventions I have put forth but when I see the final product and help someone go forward on their journey too. It’s been a great ride and only has gotten better over the years. My fascination of the mechanics of how things work along with my computer skills both work hand in hand. I am glad to be part of the Edison Nation “family” and to help other members. And the journey continues…
If you are interested in collaborating with John, you can check out his website here to learn more.