How to Become a Professional Balloon Artist
Where to Start
So you've gone to lots of parties and seen the balloon maker, and you thought to yourself, I could do that, if only I knew where to start.
Well, lucky for you, you found this blog. There are a few conditions you must meet if you want to be a professional balloon artist. 1) You must like people, especially children and 2) You aren't afraid of balloons. The first is obviously self explainitory. The second, well, no matter how good you get, sometimes balloons pop. It happens.
Next you need to choose whether you would rather do balloon décor, or balloon entertainment. There are several companies whose artists crossover into both fields, but for the time being, to get started, it's easier to choose a side.
What's the difference you ask? Well, Balloon Entertainers use balloons to entertain people. These are the people that you see at parties, usually makning balloons for the kids. Balloon Decorators are usually gone by the time you get to the party, but you can see the evidence that they were there by the balloon arches and columns.
This article will primarily talk about becoming a Balloon Entertainer. Now you may be wondering, why should I become a balloon entertainer? It's a great profession. Even if you have a job that you love, balloons make people happy, what can be better than that!? Also, I can't tell you how many people I know who put themselves through college on balloons. I myself traveled all over the world making balloons. It's something that goes beyond language, culture and age.
Ok, so you want to make balloons, where should you start?
First things first, you need the right materials. Get a hand pump and a bag of balloons. The two biggest brands for reliable entertainer balloons are Qualatex and Betallatex. Any long skinny balloon could work, but some are stronger than others.
The next thing that you should do is play with the balloons to get a feel for them. Overinflate them, pop them, twist them randomly, generally abuse them- what you're doing is learning how much pressure the balloon can take. At this point, don't worry about trying to make it look like anything, just play.
Now that you have a good feel for how the properties of the balloon, it's time to learn some designs. ( In this article, I'll tell you where to go to learn some basic designs, but the actual recipes will have to wait for another article. ) There are two main styles of balloon twisting (as it's called in the industry). One balloon creations and multi balloon creations. I personally favor multi balloon creations, it allows you to get greater detail and be less concerned with having the exact amount of air in the balloon from the beginning.
Whenever I want to learn a new design, I make it three times. That's my magic number, after 3 repetitions, I own it. Your magic number may be higher, so I recommend making each new design AT LEAST 3 times before moving on to the next one.
For a beginning balloon artist, the most important designs to know (IMHO) are:
sword, dog, flower, hats, butterfly, fishingpole
With only these designs under your belt, you can make most children beam!
I will return with some recipes and step-by-step how to's, but for now here are some sources where you can order balloons, pumps and educational materials:
http://www.tmyers.com - this is one of the best balloon entertainer supply stores out there. They carry just about every book and video ever produced and have detailed explanations of what level balloon artist it is for. (They carry my videos, but I don't recommend starting with them, as I assume an intermediate knowledge base on my dvds).
http://www.balloonmerchant.com - they sell entertainer balloons and pumps, but have limited educational materials.
For general knowledge and photos http://www.balloonhq.com
And last, but not least, to see pictures of incredible events in San Diego, by San Diego's best balloon artists, check out Balloon Utopia.
One last link, for pictures of fabulous San Diego birthday parties, check out this page.