- Balloon colors have exploded over the years. What originally started as nine colors has now escalated to forty-seven colors. This is not counting the offbeat imprints and seasonal balloon colors.
- Instructional books dwindle as fewer are being produced. Yet YouTube is fueled by thousands of individuals teaching balloon techniques once only taught in books and on DVDs.
- Balloon forums are stagnating. There are hundreds of Facebook groups all trying to grab the attention of balloon entertainers. Groups dedicated to headbands, holidays, beginners, reviews, history, and many more overlap ideas, concepts, and originality.
- Balloon distortion transforms the balloon figure into balloon art. The balloon stacker’s world has changed from creating mystic columns to hand wrenching, balloon stuffing, and contortionist dance as the balloon artist forces a balloon to act and handle in a manner that they were not designed to perform.
- YouTube trained entertainers compete for major gigs like seasoned professionals. The trials and errors which occur in the learning process have been reduced. Newbies quickly absorb knowledge from YouTube channels and gain the technical skills to rival a seasoned professional in record time. Unlike the college graduate whose career starts at the entry-level, the YouTube student competes with seasoned veterans for the prime jobs.
- Long gone are stores selling helium balloons, as helium became extremely difficult to obtain when helium producers retooled their equipment, and prices skyrocketed, leaving stores and the public shorthanded.
What have you noticed in the balloon industry that has changed since you started working in the industry?
14 thoughts on “Six Awesome and Shocking Changes in the Balloon Industry”
I have seen new graduated balloon school people, giving away the work. The prestige of the balloon decorations is quickly fading because, of people who were once balloon decorators thrmselves, are now putting out diy balloon decorations, and telliing the public how easy it is to make, and how to do it yourself, save money and at the same time hurting our industry.
i disagree with Mike. If our job is so easy that the average shmoe can do it, we shouldn’t be getting paid much to do it. As this hobby grows in popularity, you will certainly see more and more of it around, but innovation and quality will always keep you in customers. The reactions I get to my balloons are such that I know most people are either completely unaware of balloon art and are impressed by what they see. Am I enraged that people give it away? Yes. Can I do anything about it? Yes. Make stuff that casual twisters can’t.
1. Weaving is the new black – the growth of weaving techniques has grown as much as the size of sculptures being made with weaving.
2. The one balloon creations has lost its power – this may be true of the industry but not children getting balloons.
Sage, you are correct! The more people see balloons, the more they expect from a professional. The better I am, the more my services are needed. And I don’t believe the average person will watch a YouTube video and be willing or able to produce a satisfactory creation. I hear plenty of people say “I tried to do that. It’s not easy!”
I first started using balloons (Ashland 260E, 260W, and 245) when I was a new clown back in 1976. At that time people were impressed by “3 Twist Dog” and especially by the little 1 balloon poodle. Floor pumps were not available and mouth inflation was the norm. People didn’t complain about germs, twisters didn’t say things like, “my spit will be in your balloon.” Now kids will complain that mouth inflation isn’t hygienic and tell me that so and so always uses a pump so she doesn’t get germs on the balloons.
We used to do tricks with the 1 balloon animals. Our dogs rolled over, played dead, did flips. We “accidentally” let balloons go and fly around the room and the kids laughed at all the silliness. The entertainment value was as important as speed, if not more important. Clowning around was expected unlike today when a clown friend actually had someone complain to the event organizer that he was fooling around instead of just making balloons. The entertainment was for the whole crowd and the crowd was gathered around us, not lined up. Today we tend to focus more on the kid right in front of us, making their balloon and moving the line
I love the fancier creations we make today. In fact, I was part of the crew for Balloon Manor 2015 a couple of weeks ago. I love the abundance of colors, shapes, and sizes. I still have “Homer’s Rubber Bubbles” and “The Big Balloon Book” along with a huge collection of DVDs, membership in a couple of balloon forums and Facebook groups. I love the accessibility of training. I miss those 260Ws. I miss entertaining rather than filling orders for kids who have lined up. I look forward to seeing what’s around the bend.
How about the number of balloon manufacturers? Like Marsha, I started out using Ashland balloons (260E, 260W, 245, apples) back in 1980. Now we have Qualitex, Betallatex, Gayla and others all making the “entertainer” balloons.
I remember Ashland Rubber balloons, used them for a while then I was introduced to Qualatex. After that Qualatex was the only balloon you could find on the market.
I like to think the balloon industry is now compressed of 3 types of balloon people. Decorators, Balloon Artists (dress, distortion, and all that other stuff that you only make one of), and the entertainer who’s actually dealing with the public on a one-to-one interaction.
Thad, I’ve been hearing from new clients that are booking with professional full-time entertainers, because the entertainment they contracted last year, never showed up! Professionalism is the big difference between the hobbyist and the full-time entertainer.
Thousand year old art form “Weaving” finally makes it int the balloon worlds. ;0)
Sage, My personal feeling is to entertain better that the guy who doesn’t and only wants to show off. People love interaction and entertainment, art is beautiful, but entertainment makes them laugh.
There will always be the DIY person, but truth be told, the very best DIY is done by the professional.
Thanks for sharing these changes to the balloon industry! Like you said, it is amazing to see how many balloon colors are now available.