Hi! My name is Sam Doupe-Smith and I like creating balloon animals, and other things out of balloons!
I get it, it’s not a “normal” thing. I’m well aware of that fact. However, it’s something that I enjoy doing, and probably would do even if it wasn’t apart of my business.
I got into making balloons by complete accident. I was a child care worker in Kelowna and my supervisor instructed me that the recreation program was going to be. My task was to paint the kids faces, and show them how to make a balloon dog. I was all for it except that I had no clue how to make balloons. How does one get started? Isn’t it incredibly difficult since the balloons will pop? My supervisor took me aside with a bag of balloons and a pump, and changed my life forever. The first time I made a balloon animal, it was like a key was turning a lock inside my brain, opening myself to a whole new world. I just did something I had no clue about 10 minutes before, but making balloons was something that I had to do.
Fortunately for me, my supervisor left me and my co-worker to do the recreation program by ourselves with the children. I say “fortunately,” because I didn’t do my job that well that night. I started looking up youtube videos to see what other balloon animals I could make, with fierce determination. I needed to know more, right away, and nothing, not even my job, was going to stop me. By the end of the night, I went home with an armful of basic balloon animals that I made, excited over the fruitions of my hard work. I realized that I needed to find out where I could get my own pump and bag of balloons. Through a quick google search I found the local party store, that was closed until 10:00 am the next day. I continued to look up new balloon animal instructions, feeling like a kid at christmas time, waiting for his parents to wake up to order presents. When I finally got to the store the next day, and bought my first bag of balloons and a little instructional guide to 10 basic balloon animals, and I was hooked. It was all I could do.
Through looking at Youtube videos, then going through the local library and second hand stores to find more books on the subject. I had created a scavenger hunt for myself where everywhere I would go, I had to look for balloon animal books. My room was in a constant state of looking like there was a birthday party that just happened right now, and two weeks before. It was covered in balloons, some freshly made, others that were old and slowly deflating away, it looked like a very weird birthday party just happened in my room at all times.
This is how I first got started into my hobby, passion, and eventually, business. It was just a 23 year old guy, twisting balloons, for the joy of creating something and learning how to do something new. This was 5 years ago, April 2012. Now things are a little bit different. In the past 5 years, I have moved from making basic creations, using one or two balloons, to much more complex sculptures. I’ve taught myself how I can create just about anything and can take challenges from people and create new structures on the spot. I’ve created, and am continually working on, a balloon/magic/variety show, that’s more of a theatrical piece, than just twisting at an event.
Speaking of that, I’ve created my own business as an entertainer, twisting at birthdays, corporate events, festivals, and just about anywhere someone needs a balloon artist. I’ve done both kids parties, and adult events alike. I have been hired by UBC, TD Bank, the CBC, and other large companies and corporations. I was cast in a Fujifilm commercial to be able to have the distinct opportunity to be a principle actor whose work ended up on the editor’s floor. I’m not making enough to have a sole income entertaining with balloons mind you, but balloons have been able to give me a good life that has helped pay for rent, trips, conventions, and college. It has got me looks of admiration from children, and phone numbers from women. I’m very proud of all that I have accomplished.
So I want to take on a new challenge. I am creating a journey for myself, where I will stay right at home. I want to look at balloon art from when it first started, and see where it is now. I have had the good fortune of borrowing an old, but important text that was made back in 1985 called, “The Fascinating World of Balloon Art” by Marvin Hardy. As described on the cover, Marvin Hardy was “The foremost authority on balloon figures.” This book is a relic of what balloon twisting was over 30 years ago.
I am planning to twist my way through this book, make how Marvin Hardy instructed it, and show what is the standard in the world today. A way of linking the past and the present together, so that I can see how far we have come, and how much farther there is to this art form.
Thanks for reading my intro, the journey is just beginning. Let’s find the joy of twisting.