Rob Driscoll is an amazing individual. I came across and subscribed to his blog, My Daily Balloon= http://mydailyballoon.blogspot.com/, where he is making a different balloon everyday for 365 days. His photography skills really add to his balloon sculpting and well, when you see it- that will do all the talking for me.
His creativity and movie like still shots of his work can’t help but warrant him a seat on my balloon hero panel. He is a magician, photographer, a bit of a film-maker and a bit of an adventurer! In short he is one cool dude!
Rob was kind enough to let me interview him and man- is he a treat to read and get to know more about! Thank you Rob for participating in this interview!
You can tell this is a fun and interesting guy to be around=
1. How long have you been twisting balloons and why did you get involved in this art?
When I was around 18 or 19 years old I started to get into magic, performing and doing magic shows, It was quite soon after I started performing magic that I was asked to help do a magic show at a street party by a magician friend of mine called Rikki, I went along and while I was there I was given a bag of Qualatex balloons by Rikki, it was basically a case of being thrown in at the deep end and only managed basic dogs, swords and maybe the odd giraffe. For some reason I was able to blow the balloons up by mouth quite easily, I put this down to me being a very keen swimmer and diver for most of my life so I imagine I have pretty strong lungs.
From that moment I started to make more and more balloons and slowly including them in my magic shows, I have now been ballooning for about 20 years.
2. What is you favorite piece that you have made and what is your favorite piece someone else has made?
This is a difficult question, it has only been this year that I have started to push my balloon making, up until the end of 2012 I just plodded along making all the usual stuff, occasionally I would try something new but it was not until I started my balloon blog on Jan 1st this year that I really started to push my balloon modeling, so at the moment I have a few favourites, E.T. is a favourite as I have always been a big E.T. Fan, also I LOVE Gizmo and am so pleased with how he came out, Snoopy is a favourite too. I think E.T. just about wins though.
3. Has involvement in this art changed you or your life in any way?
I guess it has done yes, I have been balloon modelling for over half of my life and I can’t seem to remember a time without it in my life, when I left school and college I became a cabinet maker but in my mid 20s the magic and ballooning took over and I quit my cabinet making job and became a full time magician. I imagine without the balloons I would still be doing the magic however it’s been a much more colourful career with the balloons.
4. What are some of your other hobbies and or interests?
I have many other hobbies and interests, Most of my work happens at the weekend and I used to have a nasty habit of being too lazy during the week and not actually doing anything with my time, so I figured I should change that and now I am always actively on the lookout for things to keep me occupied, a main hobby of mine is Photography, I studied Photography at university and my dad is a photographer so it has always been a part of my life, I also occasionally branch out into a bit of film making as well, i will give you some links to some short films I have made. Travel is a big interest of mine, I LOVE the great outdoors, camping, hiking, walking, I am currently on a mission to visit the highest points of every county and unitary authority in the UK (about 240 of them) (more about that in a later question). I read a lot, I love to cook and make an amazing Paella, I have a passion for Columbo (the TV detective), anything to do with space (both real life and Sci Fi), Chelsea football club, anything Disney and I love listening to music (classical, soundtracks, 80s)
Timelapse 01 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlikbg1yILw
Timelapse 02 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfY2EKiiJMw
Timelapse 03 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBebSkney38
Rob performing with his mate Clint as the Vox Brothers – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkhotkOUkRw
5. How would you describe your personality? What are you like?
I Live in Portsmouth, England, I have done all my life and would never live anywhere else, I am currently 38 (39 on June 7th), I am gay and engaged to my boyfriend Nathan, we have been together for 11 years. I am a mainly a magician performing for children and adults for private parties, weddings, the occasional theatre and stage show, I am also in a magic double act with my best mate Clint.
I am stubborn, I can be lazy, I can be terribly untidy, I am very grumpy in the mornings, I used to often be late but I got over that flaw years ago thankfully, I eat unhealthily (not junk food, but I usually miss breakfast and sometimes lunch too, then I just eat a main meal in the evenings and the occasional snack), I worry about everything and anything, I bite my nails (sorry), wow I am a horrible person, let’s do some nice stuff to even me out 😀
I am young at heart, I think I am fun, generous; I like to think artistic, generally a very happy person and don’t like it when others are sad so try and do my best to make them happy, I am quiet at times, I can be shy, I love time on my own as much as time with others, I am full of useless information and I have a brilliant memory for dates, maps and directions, I like to keep fit when I can and I am a perfectionist (is that a good thing or not?)
6. What have been some lessons you have learned business wise with this endeavor? Is there any advice you wish that had been given to you that you would like to share to help others?
I think one of the main things I have learnt is to be yourself, I remember seeing a relatively famous UK magician talk about his life and how he used to be a totally different character during his magic act, it was an awesome act but he was always a bit unsure about it, he then realized that it was not his character people wanted to see perform, it was him, people liked him the way he was so why was he trying to be someone else.
I think it is always best to be yourself, I do a few different characters for my kids magic shows, Robbie the Wizard is my main character but while I may dress as a wizard with a pointy hat and cloak, I am still just me dressed up, it is the same with my other characters, I am always just me, no silly voices, no funny accents, just me. If you want your audience to like you then be yourself.
(I decided to put this pic of him beside himself here,lol. Don’t be afraid to really look at yourself and be okay with what you see and be yourself.)
7. You are an excellent photographer and take really beautiful pictures of your work. How do you see your other talents and skills benefitting you with balloon twisting?
That is really kind of you to say and it is a really hard question, I like to think I have always been an arty type of person so I think this has always helped with my balloon twisting, I can spend ages making a balloon look right for a photograph, moving a bubble here, adjusting a twist there, positioning it just right to make a good photograph.
8. Why did you start a blog about balloon twisting? What is your goal for your blog, what impact are you hoping for it to achieve?
The Blog came about from a series of other events, it all started back in September 2009 (the 9th, told you I was good with dates) and I had just purchased my new camera, a Nikon D5000, I wanted to use it as much as possible and I am a firm believer that you should carry a camera with you everywhere you go, so I did, anyway I heard about a challenge which photographers do in which you take a self portrait every single day, it can be any kind of self portrait and hundreds of photographers do it every year, usually starting on Jan 1st each year. I thought this was such a cool idea and decided to go for it, so on September 15th 2009 I took my first self portrait, I continued for a whole year taking my 365th photo on September 14th 2010, the photos were published onto a blog every day and I got quite a big following, I even inspired several others to do their own 365 projects.
Robs 365 self portraits – http://magirob.blogspot.co.uk/
On Jan 1st 2011 I decided to start another blog, this one was called “The way I see it” and it was basically just a photo a day, this went on for about 700 days before I stopped it but I had come to the conclusion I had become a serial blogger.
The Way I see it – http://magirob2.blogspot.co.uk/
The next blog to come along was my highest points blog, this one is still going and I will be blogging about it for a long time to come. As I mentioned in a previous question I am on a mission to visit the highest points of every county and unitary authority in the UK, its something I have wanted to do for a few years and last year I went to climb England’s highest mountain with a few friends so I figured it was a great time to start climbing and then blogging about it.
Highest Points – www.highestpoints.co.uk
It then came to late December 2012, if I was going to start a new blog then the best time to start it would be on January 1st, what could I do? another photo project? Something magic themed? Then it came to me, a balloon a day, people always ask how many balloons do I make, and my standard answer is a couple of hundred, it was time to prove it so on Jan 1st I took the plunge and so far so good.
9. What is your favorite balloon color and shape?
This is easy, periwinkle is the colour, 160 is the shape. I like periwinkle for several reasons, I generally like blue anyway but this is such a nice blue, I also like it because it’s such a silly name, I don’t know why it’s called periwinkle because periwinkle is a totally different type of blue, a much lighter almost white blue but it’s a nice name anyway.
As for the 160, I just think it’s such a cute balloon.
10. Who are your personal balloon heroes and why?
Another easy question, I have 3, each for different reasons,
1 – Dylan Gelinas, he is AWESOME, he makes the most amazing balloons, they look so much like the things they are meant to be and his instructions are easy to follow.
2 – Pascal Grooten, I like this guys work for the artistic slant he puts on his models, he puts a lot of work into making the models look right for the photography, I get the impression that the photography is just as important as the sculpture which is right up my street.
3 – Cody Williams, This guy is an inspiration, he is always happy, he always has great things to say, and he has faced many challenges in his life and has overcome them all with a smile on his face.
11. About how many balloons do you go through in a week?
Depends on the time of year I guess, and what shows I have going on, this week I am getting through a few hundred as it is school holidays and I have a load more shows to do. Over the course of a usual weekend of shows I guess I get through around 100 maybe.
12. What is your biggest dream and goal with this art? Do you have a specific project or experience/s you would love to have realized?
My biggest dream so far is to complete this challenge I have set myself, 365 balloons, one for every day of the year, it has certainly been a huge challenge for me so far, I am currently sitting here wondering what I am going to make tomorrow, it’s always a struggle coming up with the ideas, so if I can get through a year I will be a VERY happy man