Thursday, October 18, 2018

"Good Design Matters for your Business" - Zoe Adams-Jones Shows You How to Create Fabulous Social Media Posts Using CANVA.

We all want to do a better job with our social media activity. We know how important it is to increase our customer base and to connect with our current customers. However, producing engaging content and having content consistency is not quite so simple.




I am always looking for an easy solution and when it comes to design, Canva is simply perfect! Canva, for those of you who have not used it before, is a graphic-design tool website. It uses a drag-and-drop format and provides access to more than a million photographs, graphics, and fonts. It is used by non-designers as well as professionals. The tools can be used for both web and print media design and graphics. It offers a wide variety of content types that include Facebook and Instagram post templates, posters, brochures, and so much more!



Canva is free. However, you can upgrade for a nominal monthly fee to increase its functionality. Personally, I would start with the free version and then upgrade later if you feel you need the extra functions.


Zoe Adams-Jones


Recently, the wonderful Zoe Adams-Jones, CBA, of Jaz Trading in Queensland, Australia, made a live online tutorial - "Creating Easy Professional Graphics using Canva" - that she shared with the Australian ballooning community and to her followers on Facebook. Zoe has a background in digital marketing and has many years of experience in this field. She very kindly agreed that we could share her tutorial with the readers of the Very Best Balloon Blog.

I had previously "had a go" at using Canva, but because it did not work for me instantly, I gave up. As with anything new, you need to invest just a little bit of time to go through the steps. Zoe's tutorial will guide you through the simple steps of how to use Canva with ease, and within no time you will be producing fabulous marketing materials that you can use across all your social media channels.

I recommend that you open up Canva first (www.Canva.com) click on "Create a Design" and have a little play for a few minutes. Then watch Zoe's tutorial and everything will start to make sense!




I hope like me that you enjoyed Zoe's tutorial. I know that once I had watched it I was more than ready to have another go, and this time I found the software very easy to use. Dare I say that I am finding it a little bit addictive and will have a play whenever I have a few minutes spare! You can also download Canva as an app on to your phones and iPads! 

Here are a few designs that I have recently made using Canva for Instagram and Facebook. 







Using quotes on your Facebook page and Instagram posts can lead to good reactions from your audience. I added a quote over one of my balloon images and wished my followers a "Happy Monday," too!

Since social platforms are about being sociable, your followers desire content that is inspirational, informative, positive, hopeful, entertaining, or humorous. 

Here are a couple more designs that I created on Canva using two of my design images and added some text to promote my company and website. As you can see, I have been playing with backgrounds to see which looks better. I think that the second design looks more complete! 










Here is another example of with and without a background. Again I feel that the design with the background is more complete.








I still have much to learn, but I know that by using Canva I can transform an Instagram or Facebook post into something really exciting and eye-catching, and that is exactly what we are all trying to do.

A huge thank you to Zoe for her fabulous tutorial. I know that it really gave me the tools and information that I needed to get me started! I hope like me you are enjoying Canva. I would love to see some of your work! 

Happy Ballooning!

Sue


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

OnArt - "Convention of Balloon Artists" 2018

OnArt - "Convention of Balloon Artists," a Qualatex-sponsored event, has just celebrated its 11th Anniversary. From the 5th-7th October, 2018, the hotel FrontAir Congress in Barcelona, Spain, became home for nearly two hundred delegates, sponsors, and organisers, including eleven fabulous instructors from around the globe — twenty different countries, in fact!  



Fabulous "Barcelona" balloon wall and "Motor Bike" 
designed by Vadim Sushkanov, CBA.

OnArt founder Jósemarie Álvarez with his wife Cristina Cano of Globofiesta Party S.L.,   first started the balloon artist event in 2008. For me, this was very special as I was one of the first instructors to teach at this fabulous convention.


This three-day event promised to be action-packed, fun-filled, and with many amazing learning opportunities! It did not fail on any level. 

The event kicked off with a CBA examination under the watchful eye of Keith Stirman, CBA. Congratulations to the thirteen new CBAs who passed!



The welcome party was the perfect opportunity for everyone to meet up. The fabulous party decor below was created by Edward Muñoz and Vadim Shushkanov.


Beautiful "Candy'" theme entrance decor by Edward Muñoz

Fabulous "Candy" theme decor by Edward Muñoz


 "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" 
by Barbara Rosatelli 




Competitions are always a big part of any balloon event. Delegates had the opportunity to enter five different competitions: 
Table Decoration: Communion
Balloon Bouquets: New Born
Column Design: Happy Birthday
12 Minute Twisting: Open theme
Balloon Hat: Open Theme

Here are some of the fabulous competition entries.



"Flying Baby"
Marion Rudolph


























1st place Balloon Bouquet - "Flying Baby" by Marion Rudolph.
1st place Birthday Column - "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" by Barbara Rosatelli.


Carlo Vavenotti
"Country Communion"





The competitors who entered the table competition had to imagine a very demanding customer who wants a special table decoration in the communion of their child. 
Mariann Nagy
"Green Dream"
























They were required to design an unforgettable table that could include some type of structure, Columns, bows, table arrangements or helium balloons.

There were two 1st place winners in this category: Carlo Vavenotti - "Country Communion" and Mariann Nagy - "Green Dream."

OnArt always has a fabulous group of international instructors, and this year was no exception! 


Beautiful Table Setting Displays by
 Toñy Moncada



Fabulous Halloween characters by
Laura Sanchez
18th Birthday Column
by Valter Saladino











With Vadim Shushkanov, CBA, and Olga Baranova, CBA, both from Russia, Keith Stirman, CBA, from the U.K., Edward Muñoz, CBA, from the U.S.A.,  Tania Martín, CBA, Laura Sanchez, CBA, and Toñy Moncada, CBA, from Spain, Miguel & André Rego, CBA from Portugal, Valter Saladino, CBA, from Sicily, and  Nikita Fric, CBA, from Slovenia.










Stunning Photo Frame design by
Edward Muñoz



















































Congratulations to the OnArt Team, Jósemarie Álvarez, Cristina Cano, Joao Laranjeira, CEO Balõs Festa, Portugal, Tania Martín, and Noe Bertomeu for organising such a fabulous event!

And thank you to Qualatex and the Pioneer Europe Team, Premium Balloon Accessories and John Bowler, and Hi-Float for their support. 


Entrance Decor by
Valter Saladino
This was an International event with classes taught in both English and Spanish. If you are interested in attending any future Qualatex-sponsored events, check out "Qualatex Events" on Qualatex.com

Happy Ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com























Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Taking the Fear Factor out of Organic Decor - Top Tips from Three Industry Experts!

Does the thought of creating an organic style balloon installation give you sleepless nights and fill you with dread? 

Fear no more - I have instilled the help of three amazing organic balloon art designers to share with us their top tips that will steer you through those worrying and confusing times!

The fabulous Caity Byrne, CBA of All About balloons in Washington, D.C., USA, has some truly great advice to share!

Caity Byrne of All About Balloons
"Don't be afraid to play! So many times, I have pulled out the color I think is just right for an organic piece, only to realize I'm completely wrong. I've pulled out other colors I'm dubious will look good together, and I end up with my new favorite palette. The cost to experiment is so minimal compared to the potential return on investment.
The principles and elements of design are of paramount importance in organic decor. Whether it's balance, scale, whatever- they should all be kept in mind when designing, planning, and constructing a piece. A 3-footer is completely out of proportion when nestled in with a bunch of 5" balloons, for example. An 8' swag behind a 25' stage is going to look completely underwhelming and out of place. A 25' swag on an 8' stage can be done well, provided there is balance (but not symmetry- gross!).
When it comes to actual hands-on construction of a piece, the most important thing I cannot stress enough is to keep balloons round! In my opinion, there is no place for anything other than round balloons in most decor (excepting helium balloons on a string, of course). Round balloons stack much more nicely and give movement to the piece. How many times have you seen an organic piece while strolling through Instagram only to have your eye stop abruptly on a pear-shaped balloon (or a bad color or size)?
The best business advice I have is particularly true in organics: don't be cheap and don't be lazy. Use Cloud Busters if the piece warrants it! Grab those foils and add them in for flair! Use SuperAgates- they're worth it! Take the time to make the confetti balloons and make your piece over the top. Your clients will be thrilled and your future clients will be calling!" 


Want to know how Caity makes her fabulous organic decor? She has two educational downloads available to purchase from gumroad.com/allaboutballoons.

Here are some of Caity's favourite organic installations


This was the first organic piece that Caity ever did. It was in the East Room of the White House for the Obama’s final Halloween party.

"The rainbow ceiling is a close second for favorite pieces ever! I may have used literally every Qualatex solid/agate balloon in existence. It was such a happy piece and an extraordinary challenge in terms of color placement and rigging."

"The ombré wall was so elegant, in such a beautiful venue, and for a celebrity - which never hurts!"
Tina Giunta of Shivoo Balloons.




We all see and admire the stunning work of Tina Giunta, CBA, of Shivoo Balloons in Melbourne, Australia. Tina has created so many fabulous organic designs. I knew that she would be the perfect person to ask for top tips!












  1. One of the most important rules when making organic design work is to make sure that the balloons are round. Round balloons just want to snuggle together and leave less gaps than if they were inflated to the usual oval balloon shape.
  2. Don’t over-fill the gaps. It is important to leave some negative space in the design so that it doesn’t look stuffy and overdone.
  3. When making the Garland, attach the clusters to the line loosely. This allows you to shape the Garland with ease when attaching it to a wall or frame. It also allows room for the balloons to position themselves in the spaces they want to go naturally.
  4. If your Garland starts from the ground, ensure that the bottom balloons all touch the floor. This gives the design visual stability.
  5. Because this style of decor is so free-form, it’s very easy to get caught up in the finer detail! When you are close up you see gaps and feel the need to keep adding and adding, until you realize that it’s too busy or the overall shape is not working with its surrounding space. For this reason, it’s very important to walk away from your piece every so often and come back with fresh eyes. 

"This design was just so dreamy! I love working with pure white balloons. When I finished it, I sat on the floor and just took it all in for a while. It definitely helped that the venue was beautiful…I think it was the contrast from the Red brick and all the wood in the room. The glass ceiling let in so much light, everything just worked together perfectly."
Our final expert is, of course, the truly awesome Chris Adamo, CBA, of Balloons Online in Sydney, Australia.


Chris Adamo, Balloons Online
"My top tip for organic decor is related to the WBC story. Organically textured garland in and of itself is like paint. Once you know the basics of how to use different brushes (textures) and colours (the balloons), anyone can start painting. The real artistry comes to life when you can use that paint to tell a story. This differentiates the same old organics with something beautiful and memorable.
Story telling relies on integration with the environment, not the room or the space but the event as a whole. You need to understand all aspects of the event and the elements at play before you make your first brush stroke."
"After much consideration, my favourite organic installation would have to be the piece we did in the trees at WBC. It was a huge honour to teach the basics on creating organics, but when we unexpectedly at the spur of the moment wove the garland through those trees, we gave the balloons life."
Thank you so much Caity, Tina, and Chris. Your top tips are all fantastic, and I will certainly be putting much of what you say into practice when I next work on an organic installation! I cannot express enough how kind and generous our industry is when it comes to sharing and helping others to grow their businesses. It's is truly appreciated! 

Happy 'organic' ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com






Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Pump Up Your Business with this Amazing Tool for Calculating Helium Costs

What can I say! The balloon industry is made up of some truly generous people who want to help other "Balloonies" succeed and grow their businesses successfully!

Last week the fabulous Michelle Severino, CBA, of Party Splendour in Peakhurst, NSW, Australia, sent me a copy of her amazing Helium Cost and Volume Calculator to share with the ballooning community. Michelle says that this tool has been invaluable to her business and hopes that it will help others, too!

The calculator is very easy to use. You will be able to find Michelle's original calculator in both the Qualatex and QBN Facebook Groups in the FILE section in both Excel (PC) and Numbers (Mac) formats (unfortunately, I cannot share these files on Blogger.)

To start, you will need to change some of the fields to suit you and your business. I have marked these on the image below and colour-coded them with descriptions.



Those of you who are more familiar with creating documents using Excel and Numbers will be able to customise this form very easily.


  • CYLINDER SIZE: List all the cylinder names and sizes that you use. The form is currently set up to take three different sizes. 
  • CUBIC FEET: For each cylinder size listed, add the cubic feet volume if you work with cubic feet.
  • PRICE/ Cu ft: Change the currency to suit your country. 
  • CUBIC METERS: For each cylinder size listed, add the cubic meter volume if you work with cubic meters.
  • PRICE/ CUBIC METERS: Change the currency to suit your country
I have customised the Helium Cost and Volume Calculator to suit my business in the UK. I have changed the cylinder sizes to three different BOC cylinders that I use. For each cylinder size, I have added both the cubic feet and cubic meter volumes - I don't think that you need to add both, but I did. I then changed all the currency values to U.K. Sterling. 

I know that this tool will help me greatly when I am quoting for a job and calculating my helium costs.


So, if you are not already a member of the Facebook Qualatex or QBN Groups*, join up and download this great tool!

A huge thank you to Michelle for being so kind and very generous for sharing this fabulous tool. I truly believe that this will help so many businesses who don't already have a helium cost calculator. I am sure that Michelle would love to hear some feedback from you.

Happy Ballooning!



Sue
www.suebowler.com

*The QBN Facebook Group is only available to QBN Members and CBAs.



Thursday, September 20, 2018

Chris Adamo Does It Again!

I have some fantastic news to share with you! Chris Adamo, CBA, of Balloons Online in Sydney, Australia, has just added some amazing new features to his Balloons Online Design Tool software.

With immediate effect, you can now design Arches and Columns.


Simply log into http://www.balloons.com.au/tools/  and follow the CLICK HERE TO START as shown in the image below.




Once you enter the software, you will be taken to the Design Template page.





To find the template that you want to work with, click on ADD MODEL - this is on the right-hand side of the page. 

Here are all the options available:



  • Column
  • Arch
  • 6" Grid
  • 12" Grid
  • 12" X-Pattern
  • Duplet Square Pack
  • Alternate Size Pack
  • GRIDZ
  • GRIDZ Alternate Vertical
  • GRIDZ Alternate Horizontal

Once you click on the template option, the software will open and give you the template that you have chosen to use.





Chris has added so many fabulous features that make using the software even easier.


Drag and Drop


Simply choose a colour from the colour palette, run your cursor over the balloons that you want to fill with that colour, and the balloons will automatically fill; you do not need to click on each balloon individually to fill with colour.


Block Paint


Tick the BLOCK PAINT box, select your colour, and then run your cursor over the balloons that you want to fill. This will fill. This will fill in as a block, which is a great time saver.


Tidy Up


The Tidy Up feature removes any of the balloons that you are not using on the template.


Here is an example of an Arch that I designed using the Arch template. By using
 the Tidy Up function I removed all the excess balloons, leaving a clean image that I can show to my customer. I then cut the image out using the "Grab" function on my computer.



Chris has made a very simple step-by-step tutorial that will guide you through all the steps to use these great new additions. If you have not already been working with the Design Tool software, you are going to love this!


Please make sure that you give Chris any feedback and show him the projects that you have made using the tool.




A huge thank you to Chris for sharing this amazing software with the balloon industry!

Happy Ballooning!


Sue
www.suebowler.com

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Halloween's Coming, - Let's Go Totally Catty, Batty, Deadly, Ghostly, and Scary!



Halloween is creeping up on us. It's time to get ready with our "balloontastic" designs and excite our customers with witches, ghouls, and ghosts!


The key to any successful holiday sales campaign is in the planning, preparing and of course, organising.








Get displaying!

The purpose of good displays and visual merchandising is to attract, engage, and motivate customers towards making a purchase.

Good visual merchandising can help:

  • Create interest and excitement 
  • Prolong dwell time (we want people to stop and look) 
  • Increase customer understanding of what you can offer




Think about all the potential display areas that you have:

  • Windows 
  • In-Store Displays
  • Till/Checkout area
  • Wall Space
  • Ceiling Space
If you own a die-cutter like a Cameo Silhouette, create some fun and exciting decals for your shop window and other display areas.

I found this cat image at Snazzy Little Things.com. It has a great selection of Halloween window silhouettes that are free to download.


Display what you want to sell

Make yourself stand out from your competitors. Don't be afraid to showing pricing. Without prices we do not open sales opportunities. In fact, we close doors. 

If you don't own a store or shop, use your website and social media channels as your "window display!"

Social Media Marketing Campaigns

According to Social Media Examiner.com, some brands simply refuse to post about Halloween, and that’s a shame. Most social media users get into Halloween, and it’s a great time to run a cutest costume contest, encourage people to share images, and more.

Mix up your posts


Show a range of design ideas that you will have available for sale. There are some fabulous balloon bouquet and decor ideas on the Qualatex website's INSPIRATION section like the Old "Skull" Halloween Party design.


Post a fun picture of you and your team dressed up in Halloween costumes. Halloween is the perfect time to share you and your company’s fun side!  People love to connect with real people and want to know who the people are behind the brands they love.  This is a way to make them feel more personally connected to you, to get to know your sense of humor, style, design, and personality.  Not only is this fun for your followers, but it also fun for your entire team.  This should go without saying, but be sure your costumes are tasteful and not offensive, as everything you share – even in good, clean Halloween fun – is a reflection of your overall brand!


#Hashtag it!

Here's a few to get you started! 

#Halloween #Trickortreat #HappyHalloween #HappyHalloween #Party #Halloweenparty #Halloweenmakeup #Halloweencostume #Candy #Scary #Hauntedhouse #Holidays #Celebrate #Skeleton #Jackolantern #Bonfire #Cold #October #Devil #Skull #Pumpkin #Zombie #Fancydress #Creepy


You could even share some Halloween Safety Tips. Here are a few from the Safe Kids Worldwide website:
  • Keep costumes both creative and safe.
  • Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.
  • Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision.
  • Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers. 
  • When selecting a costume, make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls. 



Download and display the Qualatex  Halloween poster




Halloween offers a unique opportunity for businesses to launch some fun and interesting marketing campaigns. Halloween-themed promotions can help your business gain some interest and bring new customers through the door.

I hope that is helpful to some of you? I would love to see and hear what you are doing for Halloween!


Happy Ballooning!

Sue
www.suebowler.com