These aren’t your average animal party balloons.
Inspiration for a career change can come anywhere — even at a company holiday party. It was there that designer Robert Moy and his young son saw a balloon artist, and the moment completely changed Moy’s life. The former jewelry designer began designing high-end balloons and a new career (and outlook on life) was born. We spoke with Moy about balloon art, why his son isn’t always impressed with his designs, and what it’s really like being “Balloon Man.”
Robert, you mentioned that balloon design wasn’t your first career path.
No, it wasn’t. A couple of years ago, my son was almost four and my wife was working. We went to her company’s party and there, we saw this balloon man. My son and I were mesmerized; it was the first time that we saw anything that was more advanced. My son wanted this big candy cane and I thought the whole experience was really cool.
How did the idea of making balloon design into a career grow from that experience?
I thought of the possibilities of what I would want to do. There wasn’t anyone doing anything like that, so I wanted to do something newer and use my background in design. I think I can see a lot more how to develop something, theme-wise and in terms of presentation. I thought there was a niche where people might want something a little cooler and more designed. Some balloon artists might be good technically but they’re not necessarily designers.
So before you started designing balloons, what were you doing?
I was doing jewelry design for different companies. My wife took a job that was very demanding so at the time I was taking care of my son and working part-time. I wanted to do something that allowed me to use my skills. I like to design, I like kids and to make them laugh, I like using my hands, and being creative.
I also do a magic show, too, because sometimes kids want even more of a show. I usually do 40 minutes of balloons and then 20 minutes of a magic show.
Did you have to learn magic?
I did, and it was hard. It’s completely different and you have to be a showman. And I try to make it all look good, like how the props are and I try to incorporate as many balloon tricks as I can. Plus, I try to be funny.
For me, the sound of a balloon popping (or the fear that it’s going to pop) scares me. Are you used to that?
I’m so used to it that I have to be careful if they pop. Even the squeaky noise can be a lot for some kids, so I’ll put lotion on before I start. Eventually if the kids are going crazy it doesn’t even matter.
I thought about it for a while, like 3-6 months. I knew I could do it, but I knew it would take a lot of time to invest and learn, like any craft. I slowly went into it; I did parties for friends and went to workshops. The first party was a little scary. Now I can make things up on the spot, but it’s all time related. Kids will show you a picture and ask me to do that.
What does your son think about your career, because it’s pretty cool.
He likes new so it’s getting hard to impress him. He’s seen everything. It has to be pretty spectacular to impress him!
It’s interesting that you got into ballooning after becoming a dad. I find that some people switch careers after they become a parent.
It’s funny because sometimes you have to fill out paperwork for your child’s school, and there’s that line that asks what your occupation is. I wrote, “Balloon Man,” and we started laughing! I never would have guessed that I would be doing this but it’s so much fun and I’m really lucky to do something I love.