Zen and the Art of Balloon Shaping…

On Page One of Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, there was an interesting story about balloon art.


“Gone are the rudimentary swords and fishing poles of the past. Today’s best and brightest construct 25-foot-tall sculptures of soccer players, life-size Harley-Davidson motorcycles and 3-D balloon versions of European art.”

Jonathan Fudge is one of the featured artists that was talked about.  At a birthday party, he had designed a balloon version of Luigi, a character from the Super Mario Bros. videogame, complete with twisted brown mustache, green body and white gloves.

The birthday boy smiled and asked Mr. Fudge to sign it.

“What I do is art,” says Mr. Fudge. “Just like there was a Renaissance for art in Europe, there’s a renaissance in balloons today.”

Described as a gregarious 23-year-old, Mr. Fudge earns about $150 per appearance and about $50,000 a year. He also said he spends about $2,000 a year on videos, seminars and magazine subscriptions to develop his skills.

“Getting one step wrong could be the difference between a masterpiece and an unrecognizable mass of balloon bubbles,” says Mr. Fudge.

The article goes on to describe what a competitive field balloon art has become:

  • Big-name balloon artists such as Mr. Caldwell — aka Buster Balloon — of Garden Grove, Calif., and Larry Moss of Rochester, N.Y., earn as much as $2,500 an hour, compared with about $35 an hour for a typical performer.
  • In August, Balloon Distractions booked 1,118 gigs, more than doubling the prior August’s 500. Mr. Alexander expects revenue this year to total $400,000 and to grow 75% in 2010.

The examples that appeared in the slideshow which accompanied the article are mind-blowing.

  • Larry Moss made a 9-foot long rainbow trout (2008) for a fisherman’s birthday.
  • Mark Verge created “Game of Cat and Mouse,”that was four feet tall and eight feet wide.  At this year’s Diamond Jam in Las Vegas, it was the a large-scale winner.
  • There were quite a few from BalloonHQ.com, like Rob Balchunas’ “Jazz Band,” Tutankhamun, a medium-sized balloon sculpture created by balloon entertainer Twistina, and “Bear” by Jack Mattson which was a first-place winner at this year’s Twist & Shout conference in the small-sculpture category.

Along with the slideshow, the article had a short video.

It’s pretty amazing what these balloon artists have created.  They really have elevated balloon art to new heights!


Enjoyed this read? Want more ponderables?

Sign up to our mailing list!

Our weekly DragonBustR Reader will provide you with a nice snapshot of what’s new and ponderable at Jedemi. Plus, you will get updates on The Jedemi Chronicles (Trilogy & Series).


Speak Your Mind