Toilet Paper and Creativity

The Web is an amazing and strange instrument, mysterious to those of us who didn’t grow up in the cyberspace era. It’s Saturday morning, my mind is on idle; I’ve checked my e-mail, peeked in on my blog to see how many hits it had gotten in the last week, checked a friend’s blog, all in hopes of some moment of inspiration that would grow in the crawlspace of my mind and lead to another blog post idea. I click on Google, and type in Visual Arts, just to see what will happen.

There seems to be no particular definition for visual arts. It’s definitely not a ‘one size fits all’ sort of proposition. For me, it’s a visual, rather than tactile or auditory experience, that elicits an emotional response. Still a pretty broad category. It could include paintings, drawings, computer generated art, sculpture, photography, silent movies, installation art, even mime. As I scroll through the infinite possibilities at my fingertips, I come across the School of Visual Arts website and see some photos that stop me up short—rolls of toilet paper. Yes, toilet paper—glow in the dark toilet paper, paper with a Valentine’s Day motif, paper printed with Kakuro puzzles or Origami directions, to name a few. One roll was all black. Ponder that.

Not only do I find myself chuckling heartily, but I begin to wonder just how one would create personalized toilet paper. Okay, so that’s another part of my definition for visual art—it’s inspirational, it loosens any hold on logical or rigid thinking, gets the brain cells firing.

Maybe personalized toilet paper isn’t your thing, but you have to admit, as a concept in the larger scope of design, it may have some merit. What would be my signature toilet paper if I were to go out on a limb for this? Since one of the things I enjoy most in life is composing music, finding a way to transfer sheets of music onto a roll of toilet paper would make me chuckle. Admit it, aren’t you just a tiny bit caught up by this idea? Don’t you wonder just how someone would actually pull this off? Those of you stuck in the literal will probably answer, “Oh, about six sheets at a time.”

If it gets you thinking though, that’s creativity in action. The product is secondary. It all starts with those creative juices flowing, refusing to be suppressed. What you do with this (product wise) is up to you; but for a moment, just enjoy the feeling of being in touch with that source and surge of creative energy that’s available to us as our birthright. No one can take that away.


  1. Mark Adair says:

    Hahaha. Nice post, Jo. I confess I'm thinking about writing an entire novel on toilet paper…at least a short story…maybe an intro to a short story…would you believe a one line summary. Thanks for helping me think outside the…um, roll…and for making me laugh.

  2. Hi
    Couldn't agree more. Don't think I will go the toilet paper route. But the important thing is getting the creativity going.

    PS I found myself writing the above very carefully. I started with a double entendre accidentally; wanted to avoid that. 🙂