What if I told you that the original concept of Harry Potter was born on the body of a napkin?  It may seem far-fetched, but in reality, some amazing ideas were first captured on “scrap” paper.  If you’re familiar with one of our favorite Blueline Gallery submissions, Napkinisms: Ideas From Creative Greats by Wayward Arts, you already know how a napkin can be an essential tool for creatives to hold on to an amazing idea when inspiration strikes. From scraps to success, take a look at how these innovators took their fledgling ideas and cultivated them into spectacular accomplishments:


  • K. Rowling: As mentioned above, while on a delayed train from Manchester to London in 1990, J.K. Rowling wrote her initial ideas for “The Boy Who Lived” and “He Who Must Not Be Named” on a napkin.


  • Richard Berry: The creator of “Louie, Louie”, inspired by a nearby Latin band, grabbed the only thing in front of him – toilet paper:

“I was back in the dressing room waiting to go on, and I heard the Rhythm Rockers playing an instrumental. I heard the congas and everything, and I thought that I could write a really interesting song to go with that kind of music. The title `Louie Louie’ just kind of fell out of the sky. I didn’t have anything to write the words down on, so I took a piece of toilet paper and wrote the lyrics on the toilet paper.


  • Stephen King: In his book, On Writing, fellow author Stephen King accounts on how he created the idea behind his book, Misery. While travelling on a flight to England, he fell asleep and had a dream about a popular writer in the clutches of an unstable fan.  Once awake, he jotted the following notes on his cocktail napkin:

She speaks earnestly but never quite makes eye contact. A big woman and solid all through; she is an absence of hiatus. (Whatever that means; remember, I had just woken up.) “I wasn’t trying to be funny in a mean way when I named my pig Misery, no sir. Please don’t think that. No, I named her in the spirit of fan love, which is the purest love there is. You should be flattered.”


  •  Paul Lauterbur: The MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) was first outlined on a napkin by Paul Lauterbur (Nobel Prize winner) while he was eating a hamburger at a diner. His idea went on to become a significant medical breakthrough helping save thousands of lives.
  • Aaron Sorkin:  The Hollywood producer and screenwriter was tending bar when he decided to organize a few good thoughts on napkins.  According to Sorkin, “I wrote A Few Good Men during the first act of La Cage aux Folles . . . I would come home with my pockets stuffed full of cocktail napkins.”
  • Maryiln Monroe:  Monroe’s book, Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters, was written in at least in part on cocktail napkins.
  • David Bowie:  And lastly, rock legend, David Bowie, fleshed out his extraterrestrial glam rock alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, all on the contents of a paper napkin.


So next time you have a burst of inspiration, don’t shrug it off – grab a napkin, envelope or whatever paper you have handy! Need visual inspiration to get started on your next printed piece? Visit our Blueline Gallery.