Meeting Some Amazing People
By Samuel Stamp-Dod
The World Balloon Convention (WBC) is held every two years and almost 1,000 balloons artists from around the world attend to meet, compete and learn from each other and I was one of them.
The convention for 2018 was held in San Diego and I had the great honour of being part of Team GB in competing in four competitions. I also attended some knock-out parties with fantastic décor, learnt from the very best in the daily classes and met some people from all over the world who I had admired from afar for years.
After arriving at WBC, unpacking and making my way to the bar, the first person to great me was Nicole Gregg who is the owner of Nifty Entertainment in Adelaide in South Australia. With her shocking pink hair, she is known as the ‘Queen of Quicklinks’ as she uses these unique balloons to make some amazing models both as gift for children and adults and as wearable costumes.
Another Hero of mine was Chris Adamo, another Ausie, who runs The Balloon Crew in Annandale, New South Wales. Chris is not only a fantastic decorator, he created the amazing décor for the After Party at WBC, but also a fantastic online coach. He has developed some great software to enable balloon artists like myself visualise designs for clients and has shared this software freely with us – an all-round top guy!
I had the great pleasure of sharing a room with Ziv Raviv from Israel, who is not only an entertainer and twister (balloon model maker) but also the host of The Balloon Artist Podcast, an online radio programme that assists balloons artists, like myself, improve our skills by hearing from professionals on a weekly basis.
The winners at competitions at WBC were mostly from Aisa and this is where one of the people who I was most excited to meet comes from, Lilly Tan. Based in Singapore, Lilly has set up the Myartitude Fan Club, where she uses balloons as a medium to create art that inspires, entertains and sometimes evens shocks those who see it. Her work has truly been an inspiration to me and I felt honoured to meet her at WBC.
There were several UK balloon artists teaching at WBC who I had met many times before but deserve a mention here:
Sue Bowler is the reason that I am a balloon artist now. She taught my very first lesson back in the late 1990s and I am now pleased to call a friend.
Stuart Davis has not been in the industry for nearly as long but has made great waves along the way, I had the pleasure of working with Stuart for his Christmas big build in 2014 and at WBC he designed the décor for the Welcome festivities.
Matt Lewis worked with Stuart to provide the big balloon drop for the launch party, using his experience of providing something similar for Black Sabath’s tour in 2017.
Keith Stirman and Domonic Cassidy are known together as The Balloon Brothers and run All Things Fun in Durham. I have attended several of their classes before and they are always entertaining!
As well as all these amazing teachers, meeting the other competitors and delegates at WBC was great. To see so many people who share my passion for balloon artistry was great. I learnt so much in the time I was there, I cannot wait to use this knowledge to inspire my clients and create something that will amaze them and their guests.
In the next blog I will take a look at some of the entries to the many competitions held at WBC and share the designs that made me go ‘Wow!’