The Writing’s On the Wall: Our Idea Paint Adventure

If you’ve ever been in a meeting with our Front End Developer Chad Hietala, you know that he likes to draw out his explanations of complex web thoughts.  For those of us who consider technology speak to be a legitimate foreign language, Chad’s hieroglyphic drawings are greatly appreciated.

One day, we were talking about Chad’s drawings when our Creative Manager Andrea Yinger mentioned Idea Paint.  It is paint that allows you to turn an entire wall into a whiteboard.  You can draw away and just erase when you’re done.  I’s the same thing you did as a kid, but this time Mom won’t yell at you.

So, with the idea that it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission, we made our plan to turn sections of UR office walls into Idea Paint city, along with sections of magnetic paint, too. It was decided that we could tackle the job ourselves without asking for assistance the from university offices who do the painting.  We decided the perfect time was the day before Thanksgiving: things would be slow, we could dress like slobs, and go home early. It would be fun.

Well, I wouldn’t exactly go right to fun. It may have been more fun if we would have read the instructions first.


Turns out that Idea Paint has some really noxious fumes. When I arrived at Northbank a bit late because of a doctor’s appointment, I was hit with the smell when I entered the elevator on the second floor (from our fifth-floor office). Oh no.

When I got to the door, my Idea Paint-covered staff met me with, “We are in big trouble.”  Super.

Turns out, our friends in the UAW Legal Services who share our floor were being blasted with Idea Paint smell.  It was everywhere.  Luckily, the wonderful Ed of Northbank Center actually understands the air flow in this old building, and he was opening windows, directing fans, and blowing the fumes out of the place.  And, he was laughing at us the whole time.

But the smell of Idea Paint isn’t the only fun part.  Turns out Idea Paint doesn’t come off with regular paint-removing items.

Staffers tried soap, turpentine, scrubbing repeatedly.  Nothing.  The stuff splashes, so they were really covered in Idea Paint.  I almost joked that we could write on them to test it out, but then I thought better of it. It was an idea I needed to keep to myself.


In desperation, Alaina Wiens called the good people at Idea Paint.  They reaffirmed what we already knew: the stuff doesn’t come off easily.  They then recommended that we use Brillo pads. “It might take about a week, but your best bet is just to take a Brillo pad into the shower.”  Alaina took our poor paint people to Home Depot for the remedy.  I think by December 1st, all traces of Idea Paint on our staff were gone.

Idea Paint has been up in the office for a few months now.  I’m happy to report it works great, and we didn’t get in any trouble for not following proper painting procedures.  Come check out our latest Big Idea for the sake of creativity and innovation.

Jen Hogan