Q. Describe the most common types of jobs you do for your clients.
A. I go to several restaurants a week and entertain the kids while they would otherwise be wanting to run around while waiting for their food. Balloon art is a billion times better than having their parents say "sit still" every 10 seconds.
Aside from that I do plenty of private parties, and occasionally I make decorations.
Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A. Hire me! Well, I guess I would recommend asking for some pictures of samples of their work. A few times I've heard stories of people who paid (much more than I charge) and ended up with a clown who only knew how to make one shape well, and tried making a few more but you couldn't really tell what they were, etc. It's a common story; anyone good should have a few pictures to share.
Q. If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?
A. Qualatex balloons. If you are going to try to learn, Party City balloons will just end up discouraging you, because they will pop all the time. Find the good balloons and you'll have a chance at a good learning experience.
Q. What important information should buyers have thought through before seeking you out?
A. An hour for 20 kids might cut it for a clown making those awful 2 twist swords, but if you want to be wow-ed you need more time. When you're watching someone with as much creativity as I have, an hour goes by pretty darn fast.
Q. Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?
A. Two reasons: I am very creative and make up a lot of my own shapes, which you may not often see in your run of the mill balloon artists; and I carry a rainbow of markers with which I draw on my balloons to add character and color.
Q. What do you like most about your job?
A. I play with balloons, draw, and make people smile all day; what's not to like?
Q. What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A. "How did you learn how to do this?!"
I taught myself in middle-school, from a book, but I stuck with it and now I teach others and make good money doing it.
Q. Do you have a favorite story from your work?
A. No; there is too much to choose from. Whether I'm making up new shapes, or getting applause from some people I just made balloons, I have amazing experiences all the time.
Q. How did you decide to get in your line of work?
A. I've made balloons since middle school. I was in a magic shop and was like, this must be the most magical thing in the store, buy it for me, mom!
Recently I stumbled upon an ad for balloon artists working in restaurants. It was as if all my fears of having a boring life were just washed away as I rekindled the dreams from my childhood.
Q. Tell us about a recent job you did that you are particularly proud of.
A. I worked a party for the University of Pennsylvania Hillel Society themed "Ben Franklin's Bar Mitzvah"
The group throwing the party assisted me in creating bunches of printed round balloons (with Stars of David on them and some red white and blue patriotic ones as well). We then tied these balloons to some balconies and I made a large kite and a gold key out of my twisting balloons and attached it to the kite with balloon ribbon.
After that I entertained at the party for about an hour until a comedy troupe came on, making several interesting things such as lightning bolt hats, a peacock, and a Loch Ness Monster.
All in all it worked out wonderfully.
Q. Do you do any sort of continuing education to stay up on the latest developments in your field?
A. I have a thing about trying to mostly do my own work, when possible. That being said I am making up new shapes all the time. I do sometimes meet up with other balloon artists and we share our recent balloon discoveries. More often though, if I am stumped on how to make something, it is contemplation that leads me to a good design.
Q. What are the latest developments in your field? Are there any exciting things coming in the next few years or decade that will change your line of business?
A. Yes, the era of cheap Helium may be ending.
If there is no more helium there may be an renaissance of balloon twisting versus balloon inflating. I have no idea what effects that might have, really.
Q. If you were advising someone who wanted to get into your profession, what would you suggest?
A. Get the training, then find a company who hires out balloon artists. If they tell you that you need to learn some more shapes, learn em and come back. That way you get a good start and some confidence under someone else's guidance, then maybe you will be ready to do some solo work.