Dominic Wilcox has always been fascinated by the possibility of inventions. Born in Sunderland and now living in London, he works between the worlds of art, design, craft, and technology to create innovatively and thought-provoking objects.
Recent projects include a Binaudios device to listen to the sounds of a city, a race against a 3D Printer at the V&A and a stained glass driverless car of the future. We caught up with Dominic to find out more about his inspirations, inventions, and creative process.
When did you realise you wanted to lead more of a creative path and why was this important to you?
As a child I wasn't any more creative than the average person, I liked Lego and making model aeroplanes. It wasn't until my Art and Design Foundation course that I learned that I could express my inner thoughts through drawing, and later, making objects. I'm not a big talker, but I do enjoy communicating my ideas visually.
You’re work seems to focus on playfully reinventing everyday objects or experiences by seeing them in a new light. What inspires you and where do your ideas come from?
I think I have different motivations at different times. One time I was bored with nothing to do for weeks and so decided to start thinking up unusual invention ideas and showing them on my Variations on Normal blog, another time I set myself a creative challenge to make something creative every day for 30 days.
Quite often I think my motivation to be creative is to entertain my own mind. Some people do crosswords, I try to find surprising ideas in the everyday world around me.
Do you ever suffer from creative blocks and how do you overcome them?
I get creative blocks quite regularly. I had one yesterday sitting in the park with a sketchbook. The ideas exist in a place in the mind somewhere between the conscious and the subconscious. The challenge is getting your mind in that place.
When you are blocked you need to change your thinking. Take a bath, change your music, talk to people about the subject you are working on, go to a museum, go for a walk. Sometimes you just have to go through the hard part of filling your mind with relevant information, then sleeping on it to allow your brain to start making connections.
What has been your favourite invention to date?
I don’t really have favourites but the watch sculptures are a good one. The GPS shoes were popular and the stained glass driverless sleeper car got people going. My Little Inventors project is probably the most exciting to me because it is about inspiring many other people to be creative rather than me coming up with a single object.
In your latest project you created a glass party popper. What inspired you to create it out of glass?
The idea of putting gunpowder in a glass container was exciting to me. I had been asked to think up a new Christmas decoration by a brand but that project fell through. Nevertheless, I had this idea and thought I'd do it anyway.
I knew Ray a scientific glass maker and Christmas was coming. Sometimes doing the opposite of what we know and expect can be interesting. A party popper is a cheap, mass-produced plastic object, so making it in hand made glass by an expert maker was something I wanted to see happen.
You can see the Glass Party Popper in action in a film during Real to Reel: The Craft Film Festival (£13/£10 concessions) on 2-4 May at Picturehouse Central. To find out more about Dominic, visit dominicwilcox.com.