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David Brenion Interview

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Graham Lee:
David will be answering the questions leading up to his lecture tour of Europe with a UK date on the 6th April in Banstead, Surrey.
David's website is; http://www.niftyballoons.com/ and his balloon portfolio can be seen here; http://mrdave.balloonhq.com/
There is also a facebook page with some models on as well; http://www.facebook.com/album.php?id=10 ... &aid=41828
David will be doing the first lecture for the newly formed twister club that we have in the UK although non members are also welcome to all the star lecture and care & share days.
Booking details for the day can be found here; http://www.balloonartwholesale.co.uk/catal ... -23-1.html

David Brenion:
Hello BalloonChat!  I'm getting very excited for my trip across the pond... I can't wait to meet all of you who can make it to the lecture!  I tend to ramble on a bit, so I'll be answering these interview questions in small groups.  Please feel free to chime in if you have any questions about the lecture material or about balloon twisting in general!  

1, What road led you into balloon modelling?

I had always wanted very desperately to be an artist of some sort… but every medium I tried (drawing, painting, carving, writing) I was never particularly good at.  For some reason, balloons have been the perfect fit for me!  Ask me to draw a monkey, and you'll get a bunch of incomprehensible scribbles.  Ask me to make a monkey out of balloons... no problem!
My wife (who truly IS artistic) and I have pondered this, and we’ve decided the best explanation is that balloons are modular in design, and that the fixed dimensions of the materials for some reason really resonates with the way I view the world.  

2, when did you get started with balloons?

When I was 16, my best friend’s father was a professional clown.   He was looking for some additional help for overflow gigs, and so he trained me in the wide range of services his company offered: simple magic shows, juggling, face painting, stilt walking and very basic balloon twisting!  For many years I was a sort of jack of all trades, but a master of none.  So although I’ve been twisting for over 12 years now, it really wasn’t until 2007 or so, when I discovered the online community of balloon artists, that I became obsessed with balloons, and began to experiment with my own designs.  It’s all for the best, really… I was always a horrible face painter.

3, What’s your best twisting experience?

I suppose it’s a testament to how lucky we are to be in an industry that generates so many wonderful experiences that it’s difficult to single out the “best”.   My favorite events in general are the ones where I get to involve all ages!  The client might hire me to entertain the hyperactive 5 year olds, but when the sulky teenager, the bored father, the quiet grandmother, and the harried hostess herself all find themselves excitedly making requests, playing around and posing for pictures… then I know that I have helped to redefine “balloons” for that group, and I’ve been lucky enough to facilitate them getting to play, which most adults don’t do nearly often enough!

4, What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you during a ballooning/entertaining session?

This was fairly early on in my career, but I had been contracted through an agency to make balloons at a school event.  What I discovered upon arriving at the event was that the client had also been promised a magic show, which I had not been informed of, nor was I prepared to perform!  I hastily ran out to my car and cobbled together some scraps of rope (left over from a pervious cut-and-restored routine) and assembled a thumb tip out of masking tape, and managed somehow to eke out a bare-bones 20 minute magic show for the children.  I guess “worst experience” is a misnomer… although it was incredibly stressful at the time, the children ended up loving the show, and it really cemented for me the notion that performance has very little to do with props and everything to do with character and interaction.

Danny the Idiot:
Hi David,

I have some questions for you!

1) What's your favourite balloon colour?

2) What's your favourite size or shape of balloon?

3) Will you save two DVD's for me even though I can't be at your lecture? (one of each would be TOTALLY AWESOME!)

4) a) What time is your Eurostar train back on the Thursday 7th April?
   b) Would you like to meet up at the train station for coffee if there is time?

you can PM me if you wish!

5) er.. thats it for the moment

David Brenion:
Here's some more rambling!

5, What do you most enjoy about twisting & why?

I think any artist or craftsman runs the risk of outgrowing their passion and growing blasé.  The great thing about balloon twisting is that it combines the creative art with the performance art, and every time I make a sculpture for someone, I get to see the joy it brings them first hand.  It’s immediate feedback, and it’s a constant reminder that what I do provides happiness.  It keeps me inspired and grateful.

6, What's your favourite age to entertain?

Children are always fantastic, but I most enjoy entertaining those who think they’re “too old” for balloons.  Watching the reaction on someone’s face develop from mild interest to amazement and joy is always a treat for me.  Also, children have a tendency to fixate on one idea… make one cute butterfly at a little girl’s party, and chances are you’ll make at least 5 more.  Teens and adults tend to appreciate the concept of a unique sculpture, and are more willing to let the artist play around.

7, Do you have the same act but vary the presentation for all ages or do you have set acts for different ages?

For the most part, my repertoire remains the same for all age groups… sometimes scaled larger for adults (particularly the wearables).  My personal interaction with my audience does change with the age groups, however.  I find that with children, I’m more of a cartoon, or a caricature of myself… but with adults I try to be a little more genuine.  I am personally not a huge fan of entertainers who sound like they’re quoting from a one-liner joke book (and I’m not the best joke teller!) so I avoid that as much as possible.  I find that if I’m just a friendly and likeable fellow, my art is entertainment enough.

8, What’s your favourite thing to make at the moment?

In general, I’m a HUGE proponent of wearable art.  From a practical standpoint, people don’t like to have their hands occupied while at an event.  If they’re just handed a sculpture, it will often times be admired briefly, but then left at a table, hidden from view.  Wearable art stays visible and ideally a paying client will look out at a sea of color and fun by the end of an event.  Costumes have the added bonus of bringing out a character in the recipient, which makes for instant anecdotes and photo opportunities.  That being said, my current favorite is my “Buzz Lightyear” wing pack.  It’s instantly recognizable, kids adore the character, and invariably I’ll have some little space ranger zipping around pretending to shoot lasers from his arm!

David Brenion:
And now... Danny's Questions!

1) What's your favourite balloon colour?

Robin’s Egg Blue.  I really give kudos to Qualatex for making this shade… it’s very close to Pale Blue, but just oh so perfect for many situations!  I also hold a special place in my heart for the now discontinued Pearl Burnt Sienna… *sniff*

2) What's your favourite size or shape of balloon?

Rounds and hearts.  Can’t get enough of them!  With all the neat twisting and distortion techniques we have available, we can achieve such unique and expressive shapes!  They give sculptures a cute chubby “bulk” without adding extra lines to the finished piece.  A lot of my recent experimenting has been with scaling up my 5” round and 6” heart sculptures to include the larger sizes… 11”, 15”… even 24”!

3) Will you save two DVD's for me even though I can't be at your lecture? (one of each would be TOTALLY AWESOME!)

They’ve got your name on them, Danny!

4) a) What time is your Eurostar train back on the Thursday 7th April?
b) Would you like to meet up at the train station for coffee if there is time?
you can PM me if you wish!

I would LOVE to meet up with you!  It would really be the D’s Bs (if you catch my drift)!  I’m not entirely sure about my schedule at the moment… I’ll let you know as soon as I get a more solid itinerary!

5) er.. thats it for the moment

Well then… I guess I’ll stop typing too…


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