Sunday, January 15, 2017

It's official: "Organic Balloon Decor" is a trend that is here to stay.

So what exactly is organic balloon decor?  If you look at Pinterest and type "organic balloon decor," you will see an array of designs including Arches, Swags, and table runners that use different balloons inflated to a variety of sizes with accent elements such as tissues, flowers, and foliage. This style of decor breaks all the rules that we would normally strive for in terms of elegant, precise lines and consistent balloon sizes.
Wedding Arbour by Sue Bowler, CBA.

If I am honest, I don't believe that it's a totally new trend. It's like fashion; they come and they go. Looking back on some of the designs that we made when I was part of the Conwin design team, the organic look was definitely present then, but maybe not to the same extent as it is today.

I asked a few of my wonderful ballooning friends if they would give their interpretation of this style of balloon art.

Anne McGovern, CBA, of Elegant Balloons in New York, U.S.A.
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"I still have a problem with this whole 'organic'  thing, but it is definitely growing on me. I believe that it started with a half balloon Arch that a non-balloon person made. I think it was for a photo shoot! And it seems to have been evolving from there. I still have a problem making designs like this because it goes against everything we are taught! But one thing I have learned is to NOT overthink it and to walk away, because it's never going to be perfect, which is the point I guess! 
One thing that I found is to make the basic Columns or Arch first using the 4-balloon duplets of different sizes to different sizes and make the Column or Arch like you would normally make.  After it is made just add balloons as needed, but try not to go overboard using a lot of smaller balloons for the Arches, Columns etc., so you do not need to use as many balloons. 
Table Runner by Anne McGovern, CBA.

For the table runner, I made a regular square pack Garland,  and because I wanted it to sit flat on the table,  I made the square pack all same size, rather than the random sizing that I would use for a Column or Arch. I then added the 'organic' look to it with the random-sized balloons and greenery."

Tina Giunta, CBA, of Shivoo Balloons in Melbourne, Australia.
"A few years back I received an email to quote on that dreaded purple hanging balloon arrangement! It was obviously a DIY design, and I just couldn’t bring myself to copy it as it was in the picture —all I saw at the time was a clump of messy, unevenly-sized balloons! Although, I did really like the idea of mixing in the tissue paper puffs. So I convinced the client to let me come up with my own version. I also didn’t want the hassle of hanging the design, so I made my version a centrepiece.  I spent so much time perfecting this first piece, I was trying really hard to make it messy, but my brain kept telling me to fill in the gaps and neaten it up! All these years of conditioning to size my balloons perfectly was really difficult to fight. Suddenly, everything you know gets thrown out the window and you have to do the exact opposite!

Because of Pinterest, more and more clients started to ask for this style of decor, so I made the conscious decision to stop fighting it and take every opportunity to experiment.  I’m now at the point that I prefer to do organic decor because I really love the look of it! Even if I’m just adding a collar to a balloon or creating a balloon cluster as a base, I prefer to vary the sizes, mix in pearls, or clear confetti balloons with standards. Or, add a little greenery or a tissue paper tuft. I love having the freedom to be more creative. I actually find it far more rewarding. 
To some it may seem easy to throw together some randomly sized balloons to make a Garland or Arch, or whatever it may be, but it’s still important to make the piece look balanced and harmonious. All the principles and elements of design still apply.

I still fall into the trap of fussing too much at times and over working the detail, but I’ve learnt the trick is to walk away! And when you come back with fresh eyes, you look at the design as a whole piece, not at the detail.
I find it quite easy to sell organic to my clients because it’s still seen as something new. And really, social media has made it so easy for us! With all the beautiful work floating around at the moment it sells itself. All I need to do is post my versions of it on my pages whenever possible to remind clients that we do this style of work."
David Mahoney of Balloons Everyday, Carrollton, TX, United States shares his opinion on this technique.
"Organic is a Pinterest monster, but it is also a very PROFITABLE monster when priced right. So many misunderstand how to properly look at this design and charge for it.
I was talking to the girls in my office, and one of the girls asked why it cost so much. I asked them to compare it to something they know. I asked them how many balloons do we need to use when we do a standard size Column or standard size Arch. They said 4 or 6 bags depending on the pattern. I asked them how many balloons do we use when we build an organic. They said for each color we have to order 5", 11", 16", 36", plus clears and printed balloons in all those sizes sometimes, too. 

In this picture, the client just wanted pinks—there is Wild Berry, Rose, Coral, Pink, Pearl Pink, Pearl Magenta, and Diamond Clear. So in an organic design, I have to order in 26 to 36 more balloons to create that effect versus a standard design.
That is 8 to 9 times the number of balloons and cost in an organic design verses a standard design, and that's before I have even inflated a single balloon. That is why we charge so much more for anything organic ($55.00 per foot verse $12.00 per foot for standard Columns and Arches). Plus, we charge a much bigger setup and delivery charge on organic decor.
I hope that helps others to maybe look at what they are charging when it comes to organic and consider if they are charging enough."

Sarah Courtney of Belle Balloons in Melbourne, Australia tells us what she thinks about the organic trend.

"What is organic decor to me? Well firstly, I'm not sure I love the term 'organic.' It honestly just reminds me of food, and I can assure you as much as I love to do 'organic' balloon work my diet is far from organic! 
I like to say that my work reflects my life. I don't live to a schedule, my life is fast-paced, and I create big impact quickly, getting through as many things as I can in a single day. Basically, that is exactly what I am doing with balloons. I envy those capable of patience and detail, but have also drawn a conclusion that to do well in life, you have to find assets in your flaws.

I am new(ish) to the industry. My first balloon class was one of yours (Sue Bowler) about 4 years ago in Melbourne. I absolutely loved it, so I say all of this without judgement, as everything I know has come from learning the basics of traditional balloon work. 
To me, it seems that for a long time people have used balloons to create something else, be it a Column an Arch or a clown! For me, this 'organic' style of work is about using the balloons as a medium to create art. Taking something as simple as a balloon and using its various sizes, colours, shades, and tones (Metallic vs Standard vs Jewel) to create a piece.  Then on top of that, we have started adding in new textures using a second medium, be it flowers, paper decorations or something else. For me, this style of work is simply about using balloons as a medium to create something visually pleasing or at least interesting to the eye.
What do my Customers think of this style of work?  I guess I haven't asked anyone directly, but from what I can tell, this new style has opened people's eyes to the possibilities that are balloons. For so long, balloons have been put in the 'kids' party box, and only the brave would risk adding them to an adult event. Now with this 'organic' style of work and the increased use of oversized balloons, we are seeing sophisticated and edgy designs perfect not only for the likes of your at home 50th birthday party, but also for weddings and even your high-end corporate functions. 
The word 'balloon' scares people in the event industry, but I see a shift in that. I hear it from many of my regular customers. They say when they suggest balloons to their clients, the client wrinkle up their noses or laugh at the idea only to be shown a few images and instantly fall in love with this new modern twist on balloons. 

Do I think this will be a passing trend? Absolutely not. Yes, balloons have taken a recent spike in popularity, but I think that's come into play due to social media and its ability to create awareness. Previously, if you went to an event that had beautiful decor, you and the other guests saw it and then maybe went away and booked something similar for your next party. Now, a single event can have thousands of secret onlookers. Through sharing and tagging we are now exposed to beautiful ideas from inside people's homes to behind closed doors at invite-only events! That has never happened before. Second to that, social media has allowed people from all different creative backgrounds to draw inspiration from each other's work. I made my first 'organic' Garland two years ago, and it was done based on a floral arrangement.  I just created it with balloons. That's what's so wonderful about social media. It gives us the ability to share and grow our work, drawing on inspiration and inspiring others! When it comes to balloons, I truly believe people just didn't know how amazing they could be, and slowly but surely through the powers of sharing, everyone will be shown."

Personally, my own experience with the organic look is limited. Last year, I made an organic-style frame with Vanessa Moscardini that we used as part of a window display. I definitely felt uncomfortable using random- sized balloons, but I think I would like to work on this style of decor more this year. My first challenge will be Spring Fair in February, where I have decided to create two designs using the organic look as part of my window displays! So watch this space. I will be keeping a photo log on how it goes and will share it with you after the fair!

A huge thank you to Anne McGovern, Tina Giunta, David Mahoney, and Sarah Courtney who all very generously share their experience and wisdom working on this style of balloon decor!

Happy 'Organic' Ballooning!



Unknown said...

Thank you Sue for this amazing blog now I will try to start trying my first "organic" piece. Maybee somthing for a valentines window. Thank you Sue for your the time to write this blog every month. It inspired me always.Hugs and greetings..Tanja

Unknown said...

Thank you Sue for this amazing blog now I will try to start trying my first "organic" piece. Maybee somthing for a valentines window. Thank you Sue for your the time to write this blog every month. It inspired me always.Hugs and greetings..Tanja

Carol said...

Great information. This reminds me of the way I've always arranged flowers. People loved my "natural" look verses the common taught florist "correct and properly balanced" look. I love the look and think of it as "free-style" balloon art.

Christine Maentz said...

Had to make an organic arch only once so far & although it looked alright and the client was happy, it didn't look very organic! It was so difficult to use different sizes balloons! I'm looking forward to my next order for this type of decor... I will definitely not be so uptight about sizing & I'm sure it will look fabulous! Thank you for this great article!

Shalini said...

It's interesting that many of the bloggers to helped clarify a few things for me as well as giving.Most of ideas can be nice content.The people to give them a good shake to get your point and across the command.

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Unknown said...

Thank you sue, I love reading your blog x

TDAVIS said...

Thanks to all that contributed to this blog topic! It was very helpful. I know we price to the market in our area and what we think they can sustain, so this reminded me of what I am worth as a professional and CBA!

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Yes! love the feel of these organic balloon sculptures, way harder than it looks after trying it myself. My balloon arches need work, but it helps getting inspiration from other artists as well! Thanks

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