Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Who's your Balloon Industry Hero? Part 1

Heroes and inspirers! Part 1

Whether a hero or an inspirer, I would suggest that most of us can name at least one person who has given us the urge to do what we do today, In fact, I would like you now to stop reading for just one moment, and consider who might be your ‘hero’ and why? Can you think who it is?

If you would like to be part of this blog why not add your hero at the end by simply using the comment section, I would love to hear who your hero is and why...

After being in this ‘weird and wonderful’ industry for a considerable number of years I often think about how I got here, a maybe more importantly, what has made me stay as passionate today as I was when I first started? 

I found ‘balloons’ by chance when looking for a small business opportunity and balloons fitted the bill perfectly! But I suppose balloons really started to ‘matter’ when I started working on becoming a CBA (Certified Balloon Artist), until then I was the 'Mum' that did balloons in her spare time (do Mum’s get any spare time)? Once I started to watch the video’s, worked through the program and learning so much more than I ever imagined I became completely hooked on this whole new world of creativity! 

Debbie Magill CBA
My first ‘hero’ is someone who only some of you who read this blog will know, her name is Debbie Magill or Debbie Philpott as she was known as then. Debbie is not a balloon artist per se, but her passion for Qualatex, balloons and balloon art is as great as anyone’s. Debbie works for Pioneer Europe and has done so for more than 25 years! It was her encouragement and passion for the balloon industry all those years ago that drove me through my CBA exam and then on to attending my very first balloon convention, the European Balloon Symposium (EBS), Paris, 1996, and once that door opened I was well and truly hooked! I wonder if I had not been encouraged by Debbie to do my CBA or attend a balloon convention whether I would still be working with balloons today? 

I have other ‘heroes, people who have influenced me greatly but I thought that it would be interesting to find out from others who their heroes or inspirer’s were. I limited everyone to a maximum of 3 people knowing that it would be very hard to select only one, but easy to list many! 

The response to my request has been amazing, I have truly enjoyed reading each and every response and I look forward to sharing them with you...

Colin Myles CBA - Smiley Balloons
Sitting at home one Friday evening I received a message from one of my all-time balloon heroes, Yep that is you Sue, asking me to name three balloon heroes of mine. Over the years I have had the good fortune to meet and become friendly with some of the best artists in the world of balloons and I like to think I have gained some knowledge from each of them. Okay only three.

Number one would be my first teacher, Ian Herd, he gave me a great foundation for balloon décor, and instilled into me that for a design to look its best each element (balloon) in the design must be treated with care.

Monster Truck - Colin Myles & David Grist
Number two is my great friend David Grist, who believed in me before anyone else, not only was he a great artist, but he took time to help me, and gave me the belief that one day I could also become a good balloon artist. I feel very lucky to have worked with David on several projects.

Number three is Michael Gjerek, he is the best I have ever seen, again I have been fortunate to spend some time with Michael, and have been able to watch and learn from him, he continues to inspire me.

Tania Torre CBA - Balloon Express Sicilia

Design created by Tania Torre
The person who introduced me to the balloon art world and pushed me to work more and more, to obtain the CBA qualification, to participate to competitions, to put myself to test was Roberta Tincani Lever. For the short period she was with me she stimulated me to do my best, she suggested me to look at all the greatest teachers, to adsorb and personalize all the learned techniques. During the showrooms, the fairs, the courses, she continuously pushed me to search new designs, to care the detail to amaze the client, to study, try, study and try. All these tips contributed to my formation as balloon artist: When i create a composition, big or little, i try to keep them in mind. At the beginning the balloon art was a game for me, it replaced the teaching of classic dance (which i did for 10 years). Little by little the love for this art grown up becoming source of satisfaction and inspiration at the same time.

Elisa Helman, Elisa in Balloonland, Israel.

Only 3 people that influenced me the most in the balloon community.  That is a hard one since it is 24 years of meeting creative, giving, talented people from all over the world.  I have been so blessed with so many inspirations and role models.  If I had to choose the three most influential they would be:

Ruth Helman
My mom, Ruth Helman and Jane Naggar who had the business Creative Celebrations in Massachusetts.  They entered the balloon world in 1989 after searching for balloon artists in the New England area to decorate my brother's Bar Mtizvah.  I kind of combine them together, since their friendship and working relationship are such a tight bond.  My mom has since retired, but continues to be active in the balloon community of Boston (attending her QBN chapter meetings, going to classes that Jane teaches and working for the woman that bought her business); when she is in Israel working with me on jobs and teaching my friend's son; and attending balloon conventions all over the world (she is already thinking about WBC 2014).  Jane is the rep for Pioneer balloons in the Northeast of the USA.  They were and are every day role models for me. Their love of their business, the fun that they had working together and on the work itself (you would not believe the laughter that flies back and forth between them), their never ending creativity, the way they impart knowledge and help others in the balloon community (even if it was the competition down the street; they shared ideas and product with everyone and till this day even though they are mainly retired meet for their annual summer BBQ), their business ethics and commitment. Jane's ability to sit and figure things out and their investment with her clients.  Today they serve as sounding boards and great colleagues for me and my business.

Linda Bruce
Linda Bruce.  Her flair, her smile, patience, kindness and her love of the industry.  She was always there to help, give ideas and she loved teaching others in the business.  Words can never do justice for such an amazing woman.  So many of her designs and ideas I use in my business.  I aspire to her grace, calmness and easiness that she had about her.  

I think that it was also great to see three women who managed a family, but still had time to develop themselves.  

Of course there are many teachers that have I could not have done with out in my life their inspiration, ideas, knowledge, support and friendship are the building blocks of who I am as a balloon artist - Marvin (I received his Balloon Magic Kit 34 years ago for a Chanukkah gift way before my mom ever touched a balloon) Alberto, Cam, Luc, Keith and Dom, Patrick, Dom, Gary, Bruce, Alex Arroya and Pepe, Alex Shephard, Jodi, Dee, Robbie, Addi, Fabrizio, Dr. Bob, all the artists in the Jam Rooms, that come through my store and at conventions all over the world that share and of course you.  Many distributors have also helped me along the way, Gary and Billy have been a wealth of information and so willing to share.   And of course to Ted J that pushed me out of my comfort zone.
Elisa with Shai Sayah
In the last few years though, Shai Sayah has become a big influence on me.  My "apprentice" as we call him here at Elisa In Balloonland, he is all of 14 years old.  I  see how much he loves the balloon world.  He spends a lot of time practicing new techniques and trying things out.  Wether it is something he read in a Images or Magic magazine, something he learned at a convention or saw on a DVD, or just something that popped into his head.  He has free reign in my studio and often he is practicing while I am working or not even on the premises.  Without even knowing it he has pushed me.  Sometimes the every day running of a business gets the best of us, even something we love to work in becomes work.  In the last few years I now take the time to practice.  Sometimes to work with Shai on something new or show him something that is new to him (which gives me a chance to review techniques I do not use every day, or think about the techniques I do use every day).  Shai's influence has changed me on a weekly and daily basis.  On my own I have gone back to "playing" with balloons.  I make the time to try new things out, to be inspired and to remember why I fell in love with the balloon industry!

 Luc Bertrand CBA, Waw Balloons, Belgium.

“can I ask who your industry hero or heroes are (max 3) and why? Who has most inspired you or influenced the type of work that you do?”

Hmm, only 3? That is not fair, I would think I get my inspiration from every single person in and outside this industry. If I have to start listing, my list would have hundreds of names including yours Sue. 
Inspiration is about listening, looking, recognizing and applying . Inspiration can come from objects, ideas and other people. 

But you limited my choice to 3 max, so these are the winners.

Treb Heining.
Treb Heining CBA
I want to mention Treb, because I see him as the main person that started this industry. He had the sparkle and recognized the possibilities with balloons.  Beyond his will, 40 years ago, he became the "Adam" of an industry that creates incomes to many, many,  thousands of people all around the world. Other than that, he inspires me as he grew from a balloon vendor in an amusement park to a person with giant crews handling up to over a million of balloons at the biggest events most of us can only dream of.

Ted and Betty Vlamis
Ted & Betty Vlamis
Other than Treb, they saw the potential with balloons and helped founding this industry. Whoever knows them must recognize that they have an immense fire inside them. A flame they like to share with other people. If you make it to an event such as WBC and you get to meet them, Ted will be happy to share their life story with you. If you ever get so lucky to hear it, listen carefully, I guarantee you will be inspired. 

Rene De Cort. 
I know, this will not ring a bell. But I hope it will make sense.
I do not see balloons as a separate industry. They are part of a creative movement where balloons are the materials, the building blocks that we limit ourselves to. If really good at what we do, we still do nothing more than what craftsmen did when building gothic cathedrals many years ago.  What brings me to a reflection about the idea that we can not use other materials than balloons to create something stunning. "No glue, no wire,..etc." Rest assured, the gothic builders needed metal anchors and cement to keep things in place.
But, back to Rene. Why is he important to me?
As many know, before starting with balloons I was an Interior architect. And this is were Rene shows up. When studying at the Saint Lukas art school, He was one of my teachers.  He did not "teach" but learned us to experiment. Rather than explaining us how aquarell, oil paint and brushes should be used, he had us struggle with the material and tools allowing us to using it in non usual ways and look for other ways.
He learned me that it was ok to spread, throw, apply, drip and mis-use (does this word exist?) in any way materials as long as we recognized the deeper sense or the beauty at one point. We have been experimenting with all kinds of materials including fruits, eggs, sand and many more. Such as we have with balloons, this added a time dimension in our work as well. When mixing bananas with paint, the effect was great and got more interesting in the following weeks, but was not be kept in house beyond their rotting
In everything I do I try to keep on looking at different and non usual ways of doing things sometimes resulting in new and exiting techniques or results.

I rest my case... Luc

I had an amazing response to my request for ‘Hero’s, so I will continue this blog with a second and maybe even a third part... 

A huge thank you to Colin, Tanya, Elisa and Luc for sharing their personal stories, I hope that you have enjoyed each one as much as I have! And please don't forget to post your 'heroes in the comment section below!

Part 2 coming very soon!

Happy Ballooning!



Joette Giardina said...

One of my Heros is on of the First Instructors I met in the industry Peggy Williams. What I love about Peggy is she has a Passion for Balloons, and helping others have success! When she shares a reciepe she would add the Cha-Ching to help you see $$$ signs. And the Added Value you can give to a balloon to really make money!

another Hero Is Colin Stewart as he consistently works his business and creates Amazing sculptures. It's always great to see what he is doing by wathcing his Facebook Post!

Third Hero would be Steven Jones, in addition to being a wonderful Balloon Artist creating delightful designs, he Runs a Video Company allowing balloon artist to continue their eductation via videos and runs an AMAZING convention FLOAT...the concept of FLOAT being an Advanced convention in the US that allows a platform for Mulitiple Balloon Companies to be featured at the same event, Great Classes and wonderful competitions...the networking and learning that I have gained from FLOAT is unmeasurable.

I love the balloon industry as it is full of "hero's" so many Great Artist who share with others to continue to take our industry to the next level!

Joette Giardina
Party People Celebration Company
Lakeland, FL

Amanda Griffiths said...

My heroes And inspirers contain a very long & distinguished list of Australian & overseas artists & people.
First would be Rachelle Fraser from Quakatex Balloons Brookvale New South Wales Australia who talked me into attending my first Australasian Balloon Concention at Manly NSW Australia in 2005 (actually talked me into is a little soft - told me I was mad not to attend & would regret it forever if I missed it were the actual words LOL) from that humble beginning was born a meeting with so many people who were as passionate about balloons as I was!! My balloon career has just skyrocketed from here, I have met some amazing people who both inspire and I look up to, but the next would have to be Linda Bruce, I met Linda at the same convention, a very beautiful lady who was happy to share with everyone her key to success. I decided in my first class with her that she was my role model, I wanted to compete at my next convention (I have at every convention I have been to as an attendee) and all the while giving back to the industry that gave to me in the first place in whatever capacity I could, from simple sharing to getting involved in QBN and BASA (the Australian industry body) to presenting training to my peers for both BASA and eventually Qualatex Australia! The next person is another Aussie, he has inspired me & created what my husband calls 'a monster with a life of it's own'. I'm referring to being introduced into the world of twisting by Jeff 'The Uncanny' Hayes from Tasmania Australia also at the Manly convention. He inspired me to introduce twisting to my business to 'set me aside' from the other businesses in the area. I now do a lot of twisting both within my decor business and also by introducing twisting into my business through linework and children's parties!! Of course there are many more but these would be the three main ones!
Amanda Griffiths CBA 'Mizz Mandee'
Top Hat Party Supplies
Barrack Heights NSW Australia

Ronald Vierkant said...

I'm a starter in the business of balloonsculpting. I'm inspired by Buster Balloon. Surfing at the internet and youtube, I saw his vids and the way he entertains and that gave me the inspiration to become a balloonartist. I was verry lucky to meet him at T&S2013 and followd his masterclass.

Greetings from
Ronald Vierkant
alias Willenn Ballonnen

Elizabeth Ballon said...

Treb is my Hero ;-)

GBAlmanac said...

Definitely BRUCE WALDEN is my very first (and forever) hero!

Leilani said...

I would have to say Linda Bruce, David Grist, Troy Apprill and Robbie Furman have truly been leaders and guides for me.

Alessandro Patanè said...

I work with balloons for 17 years, and my heroes were many, everyone I've met in this beautiful crazy world of balloons. but if I had to name some important people that at first they sent me their great passion were Roberta Tincani Lever, and Marvin Hardy. They made me understand that the Balloon art is not a job but a way of life. Thank you