As you know I am one to look around Facebook for balloon art and wonders and I came across Twisted Inflations and was instantly mind-blown! Twisted Inflations is a Canadian business based in Ontario.
Very clean, very bright, very top notch and stunning designs are to be found here=
Examples of stunning work below!
Here is the face and the man behind these wonderful and amazaballs creations, Derek Wong.
I asked Derek if he would be interested in participating in an interview and to my delight he accepted. Thank you so much Derek!
1. How long have you been twisting balloons? What caused you to start twisting?
Before the balloons, my favorite hobby was magic. I picked up balloon twisting just so I could have one more “trick” up my sleeve to offer to my audiences. And at that time, the best I could do was the two balloons flower. I did not put too much focus on develop my skill in balloon twisting as my life was too busy with my family, my job and other hobbies, until 2011. In Jan 2011, I was invited to the birthday party of my friends’ daughter. They hired a balloon guy to make balloons for the kids, and that was the first time I have seen someone use multiple balloons to create the models and my mind was blown away. I was completely amazed by this gentleman’s skill and his balloon creations, and I just stood there for 2 hours watching him and tried to learn as much as I can. Once I was home, I dug out my only bag of assorted color 260 and my hand pump, and started to recreate what I remembered. That was how I started. After a while, I realized I can do better balloons than doing magic, so balloon has replaced magic on my list of hobbies.
2. You draw the best faces that I have ever seen drawn on balloons. How do you go about drawing on your faces? Do you have an art background?
I do not have much official art training other than an art course in high school. But since I am an Asian, my childhood life was surrounded by Japanese anime and manga. I spent most of my high school and university time drawing manga characters on my note pads, and I was dreaming to be a comic artist at that time. Of course that dream didn’t go too far, but that years of practices on the note pads do come handy when I started to need drawing faces on my balloon designs. It seems to me that drawing a face on a balloon model is no different from drawing a face of a mange character: if you can get the eyes right, you won half the battle.
3. What is your favorite balloon sculpture that you have made? What is your favorite sculpture that someone else has made?
Among all the sculptures I have made so far, there are two pieces of work staying on top of my list of favorite sculpture: The first one is a half-body geisha centerpiece. After Mar 11, 2011, I was asked to make something “Japanese” for a Tsunami relief for Japan event. At that time, I had only 3 months of balloon twisting experience and hadn’t made anything complicated. However, I was inspired by the large geisha sculpture from the WBC 2010 and I wanted to make something along that line (but not the same scale). It took me days to research, design, and do experiments on new techniques, and I finally came up with the very first piece of work I could call a piece of “art”. Of course, looking back from now, it really wasn’t a piece of masterwork, but it is a mile stone on my balloon journey and I wouldn’t be able to make what I am making today without this project.
The second piece of work was done exactly one year after I started balloon twisting. It was the first full size princess sculpture I made, and it was a gift to the very same girl whose birthday party was the hook to get me into balloon a year ago. The sculpture was princess on a pillar and it stood 5ft tall. The pillar was made using a chain-weaving technique I learned from a picture in Rie Hosokai’s book, and the princess was a combination of techniques from different sources. It was the first and the most beautiful princess sculpture I had made, and it sets the framework for my later princess works.
It would be hard to pick a work from another balloon artist, as there are so many I love. If I really have to pick one, I will say the large geisha sculpture from the WBC 2010. As I mentioned earlier, it inspired me to create me very first piece of balloon art, and it was absolutely stunting.
(Click this link to see picture. http://theverybestballoonblog.blogspot.com/2012/10/distortion-techniques-part-2.html)
4. Do you have any advice for people new to this art and or business? Is there anything you wish you were told when you started out that you would like to share with others?
My advice to people new to this art is to spend as much time as you can to “play” with the balloons. Don’t just learn a design or a technique, but “play” with what you learned, do experiments, be creative and think outside the box. This is the only way to elaborate your skill and design, and will eventually set you out from the average balloon guys/ladies.
5. What surprises if any have there been with having a balloon business? Do you see any previous work experiences or skills coming into play and if so how?
I was an I.T. person for over 15 years. So doing business is not strength, and I do have difficult time and I am still learning. However, my previous I..T. experience does give me an open mind to accept new concepts and not afraid to try new ideas. And it also comes very handy when I need to do research on the internet, and work on my own web-site.
6. Do you have any balloon heroes? If so who?
There are many who I got inspired from during my journey: Rie Hosokai, Takehiro Kai, David Brenion, Pieter van Engen, Mr. Fudge, Patrick Van de Ven., etc. They are all heroes of mine.
7. Do you have any personal goals you hope to achieve involving this art? Is there any kind of project you would like to see realized?
The short-term goal is to get my CBA designation. I have already passed all three QBN exams, and I am planning to get my last practical exam done within the next year. I also am planning to attend some large conventions for the education and inspiration, and to participate in more contests to sharpen my skills. I am currently working on a few designs for the competitions in the upcoming conventions, and hopefully I am able to make them happen.
8. What is your favorite balloon color and shape?
My favorite shape is the 160. It is thin enough to allow me to create the details I want for my sculptures. And my favorite balloon color is white. Just like the “0” in numbers, white doesn’t stand out on its own, but no sculpture can miss a little touch of the white.
9. How would you describe your personality? What are you like? Is there a fictional character you really identify with?
This is a very interesting question. I had never thought to identify myself with a fictional character, well, except I really thought I was one of the Power Rangers when I was a kid. I can say I am not a hardworking person, and even lazy sometimes. I could also be a bit contradictory sometimes. I like to work slowly and take the time to complete a design, but I could turn very impatient once a while and got upset with myself not to able to complete a job fast enough.
10. What would you say is your favorite memory involving balloon twisting?
I remember I was twisting in a birthday party. One of the kid in line waiting asked if I am a clown. I had never dressed like a clown and I was even in my polo shirt and jeans on that day. So I kindly answer the kid that I am not a clown. The kid had a confused look for a second, and he asked again, “if you are not a clown, than who are you?” I said I am a balloon artist. The kid still look confused but he stopped asking and wait patiently for his balloon. And soon after he got what he requested, his eyes turned big, and he said, “wow, you are really a balloon artist.” I smile and said thanks to this little boy.
11. How do you go about maintaining your interest and passion in balloon twisting?
A good way to maintain my interest in balloon twisting I found useful is to connect the other balloonists in the field, pick their brains, learn from their designs and get inspired. It would hardly get bored when there are so many to learn, and so many people you can learn from.
12. Have you ever been to any workshops or conventions? How did they change your life or not change your life?
So far the only workshop I have attended was the Keith and Dom’s British Balloon Adventure. It definitely opened up my eyes and able to explore a different area of balloon business. Because of that workshop, I do want to see more. There are not many conventions and workshop happening in the area, so I am planning to join the upcoming conventions in the States in the near future.
13. What are some of your other hobbies/interests?
Although my wife does not agree to that, but I really don’t think I have a long list of hobbies on top of balloons: archery, martial arts, magic, dessert making, video games, photography, travelling, watching TV and movies, and playing with my son.