Surprise Me

In this article, I embark on a journey into the intricate creative process triggered by a seemingly simple request: ‘Surprise me.’ I will explore the nuances of crafting unique designs when faced with this intriguing challenge.

You might not hear this response if you use a balloon menu board. For those who don’t, it is a fairly common response.

“Surprise me!” responds the child. I quickly browse my mental catalog of balloon designs, eliminating the basic and common options and settling on an impressive design. But before I begin crafting, there are certain factors I need to consider.

4 Vital Elements I Weigh Before Twisting

  1. Time – Is there enough time to create this figure?
  2. “Combo Effect” – If I create a design that combines two figures, am I setting myself up for failure, as every subsequent request will involve combining two or more figures to create a single object
  3. Significance – I need to create designs that resonate with them, cultivating a deeper appreciation for the sculpture rather than merely seeing it as a quirky balloon creation.
  4. The Challenge – Am I physically and mentally prepared for the challenge, considering my fatigue and stress from interacting with the public? Or perhaps I’m not inclined to be creative now?

Example of Combine Designs

A fun balloon design I enjoy creating is the shark devouring the scuba diver. However, the drawback is that it often leads to requests for various animals eating each other. If I entertain such requests, it means crafting two figures for each person. This is why I exercise caution when someone utters, ‘Surprise me. It’s easy to show off, but at what cost? Longer wait times, crazier requests, and the stress of continuously producing new and better designs with each twist.

shark attack

Based on this internal evaluation, I will either dig deep and create something original, opt for a humorous approach, or default to a predetermined design. Let’s break down each option.

I did deep and created an original design.

Creating an original design is the most mentally, physically, and equipment-demanding task, as everything must align perfectly. Frequently, I encounter setbacks when I realize I’m missing a specific size or type of balloon for the intended creation. Even worse, I sometimes find myself midway through the assembly process, only to discover that it’s an abstract concept my mind conjures. While mentally, I can envision the balloon twisting into that shape, in reality, achieving it is physically impossible.

Nonetheless, one can create an original design spontaneously or at least perceive it as such. In my case, an original design might entail reengineering a concept I’ve encountered online, incorporating a new technique I’ve recently learned and wish to apply, or showcasing a specialty balloon that adds a ‘wow’ factor to the balloon creation.

The climax of this impromptu, on-the-spot creation is heightened when I request a photo of this never-before-made design.

Humorous Approach

This is my favorite approach, allowing me to quickly inject comedy into the moment. Once I hear, ‘Surprise me,’ I grab a scrap balloon and present it to them, exclaiming, ‘Here is a dead worm.’ ‘Not impressed.’ With a puff of air, it becomes a live worm. I then make a balloon fish and place the ‘live worm’ in the fish’s mouth.

Besides being an opportunity to inject comedy, you can also showcase something you’ve perfected over the years. Like the fish, which I know gets a positive reaction, I can incorporate jokes, facial expressions, and designs that will elicit a response from the audience—many times, after this interaction, people are open to taking or asking for a business card.”

The Predetermined Design

The freedom to create and let my muse run wild is exciting and frustrating. The simple fact is that the pressure is on me to create something for someone I know nothing about. This leads me to the following profiling questions:

  • Do you have a favorite color?
  • Do you prefer masculine or feminine balloons?
  • Do you prefer something funny or realistic?

The goal is to profile the individual to better understand their personality, which will give me an idea of what I should create. I can make them anything, but I aim to establish a personal connection with them, as I know they’ll have a deeper appreciation for the balloon animals if I include things they like.

Using a profile narrows my options, reduces stress, and makes it easy to decide quickly which balloon animal to make.

The Cheat Sheet

I’ve heard of entertainers maintaining a cheat sheet of distinctive designs they can quickly refer to. This cheat sheet alleviates the entertainer’s stress, offering instinctive solutions. When well-designed, it can even be structured in a profiling format, i.e., boys, girls, cartoon vs. realistic, or alphabetically, which speeds up the creation process. Whether using a cheat sheet or having a fallback design, the goals remain the same: to create something they weren’t expecting.

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Surprise Me
Article Name
Surprise Me
Dive into the world of balloon artistry with Dale Obrochta's insightful exploration of crafting whimsical designs on demand. From original creations to humorous twists, discover the secrets behind captivating audiences with balloon magic.
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DEO Consulting, Inc. AKA Magical Balloon-dude Dale
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