“What do you call yourself?” You would expect to hear the dialog from a science fiction movie as the glamorous heroine asks an alien to define its origin. Yet, this question has been asked 100’s of times by my mom’s and dad’s trying to figure out what to call a person who makes balloon animals.
I define balloon animal makers, folders, twisters, manipulators, and stackers as follows.
Balloon Artist – Is an individual who uses balloons to make a sculpture or figure. The balloon artist uses different size balloons, techniques, and non-balloons to create a sculpture, i.e., framing, headbands, or lights to enhance the balloon art. These balloon sculptures are not limited by size, the number of balloons, type of balloons, or time frame to build. The goal is to impress, wow, or create a balloon figure that excites an audience. The “reproducing” balloon figure is part of the Balloon Artists’ design process, where the artist calculates the material needed. Knowing the material requirements and having a prototype allows the artists to sell multiple copies of the original artwork.
Balloon Entertainer – Entertains an audience with balloons. The balloon designs range from simple to complicated, using these props to entertain individuals or large groups. The subtle difference, in my opinion, between a Balloon Artist and Balloon Entertainer is the presentation. The entertainer must “Entertain,” whereas the artist’s focus is less on entertainment but on creating the art. Unlike Line Twisters (below), balloon entertainers work with small crowds or private events where the one-on-one can produce customized individual sculptures ranging from a three to five-minute design or are on the stage entertaining using balloons.
Balloon entertainers work in the public eye, so anything they create must be ready on hand and may have to reproduce several times. Each time the design might change slightly as the entertainer, audience, or lack of supplies forced the entertainer to vary from the original design. Whereas a Balloon Artist has calculated what supplies are needed and has built serval prototypes to ensure the final design is present to the client.
Update: Because of Covid-19, balloon entertainers are now performing virtually.
Balloon Decorator – Decorators look at how they can add value to an event through balloons. Areas of the room that are dull, open, uninteresting are enhanced with colorful balloon shapes. Taken into consideration are colors, ceiling height, the room’s flow, and the overall impression the client would like to make with the balloon decor.
Balloon decorators contract or have balloon artists on staff to help build focal points that tie into the room’s decor. Balloon decorators work with a team that helps design, build, set up, and break down the balloon displays. A balloon decorator’s job is to work behind the scenes to ensure a picture-perfect event happens, unlike a balloon entertainer who interacts directly with the guest and the client during the party.
Balloon Artist, Balloon Entertainer, and Balloon Decorator are how I define the primary balloon industry to the general public. However, there are subgroups in the industry where people like to niche their skills as a Deco-Twisters, Line Twisters, Twisters.
Deco-Twisters – This can be considered as an offshoot of a balloon artist. The main difference is the balloon sculptures are large in scale and work behind the scenes using techniques that make it difficult to reproduce for the general public and typically are the focal point of the balloon decor. No balloon, latex, mylar, rounds, or long balloons are off-limits when it comes to deco-twisting.
Line Twister – Developed from the world of balloon entertainers, the line twister must be able to reproduce balloon figures within three minutes or less. This production, like speed, allows Line Twister to develop motor memory skills that will enable them to expend little mental energy on building the sculpture, which frees the entertainer’s mind to think about entertaining the audience while acting like a machine reproducing a balloon sculpture. The Line twister is a one-on-one entertainment where every child receives a balloon, and people stand in line as they wait their turn.
Twister – A generic industry term to categorize people who primarily use balloon animal balloons to entertain or create balloon art. A Twister’s skill level can range from beginner to advance and deals directly with guests one-on-one.
If you are looking for a Balloon Artist, Balloon Entertainer, or Balloon Decorator, the balloon community is tight-knit and will gladly recommend a colleague specializing in your event requirements.
If you’re a balloon entertainer, how do you classify yourself?
Leave me a comment below.
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6 thoughts on “Balloon Animals Artist – What Does That Mean?”
Thank you for the inspiration and your wonderful thoughts on balloons…
I’m a balloon artist / twister / entertainer……what’s new? But for some unexplained reason, I like balloons, Now I must say, not as a kid would. Being a balloon artist, you are not just cranking out balloons one after the other non stop like a robot. And further more, you are not making x amount of balloons per hour for x amount of dollars. A balloon artist is just that, an artist.And it’s amazing to watch a figure take shape. But a good twister goes beyond just the balloon. He / she also entertains. “You came all the way from New York just to get a balloon from me? I can’t believe it?” I hate to say this, but I feel some balioon twisters make junk. They make a four bubble flower from a green balloon, attach it to a brown balloon, and call it a palm tree.. AWFUL! You’re there to impress everyone. WOW,look what he / she made…..a worm (from just one uninflated brown balloon) The figures you make don’t have to use a lot of balloons, nor do they have to take time to make. A little tiger cub for example. (one balloon) Then draw the eyes, nose, wiskers, and stripes. Delightful and cute. Or how about a sitting dog with big ears and a big nose (3 balloons) You can also make the kid a helicopter pilot. Two balloons for the copter, and one balloon for the head set. Of course you can make those big sculptures as well. The Road Runner using 6 balloons. Or Popeye using 14 balloons.
As you mentioned, the balloon artist uses different shapes and colors of balloons to create different things. I wonder how one becomes a balloon artist. Are there classes or such that help train on how to do this?
Barry, there will always be different levels, as the musicians playing on the street vs. the concert hall trained musicians. Yet each is a musician. Do they bring different skills, yes? Might they be a different skill level, yes? I feel it boils down to the “reason” why somebody is doing anything—money vs. passion. The person who is passionate about their work will always produce better work than those who are not. We both know, just because it’s more expensive doesn’t always mean it better.
Yes, there are conventions that entertainers and the general public can attend to learn about the industry, balloons, and the tools we use. There are about five conventions in the US and small what we call “Balloon Jams” that happen in cities all across the USA.
Really good explanation Dale, thank you!