Jobs 101: Balloon artist
Meet the guy whose life was sculpted by balloons.
Who would have guessed that twisting balloons could earn you a living?
Youth.SG met up with the humorous balloon artist Jazz Ang, who has been twisting balloons for 10 years.
How and why did you become a balloon artist?
I started learning simple magic tricks for fun when I was in secondary four. One of my full-time magician friends invited me to do balloon sculpting for him. I didn’t want to learn balloon at first – it was for the money. I didn’t hate it too, because the money overpowered the sianness (‘tired and boring’ in Singlish).
[Loving balloons] came naturally. After doing it for a while, it’s pretty fun.
Did you learn balloon sculpting professionally?
No. To be a certified balloon sculptor, you have to fly to the US to attend their conventions.
I was supposed to get a full-time job related to my graphic design diploma during weekdays and do balloons on weekends. But I was so into balloons that I didn’t have time to find a full-time job.
During weekdays, I had to buy materials, train myself, and stuff like that. I sculpted balloons as a hobby for a year before taking up the job full-time.
Describe a typical day at work.
When I got my full-time income through balloon sculpting, [I did] birthday parties, mostly.
It usually comes in a package, where I do magic for half an hour and balloon sculpting for an hour, then zao (‘leave’ in Singlish) already!
What are some challenges you face as a balloon artist?
It’s easy to pick up the skill [balloon sculpting], but it’s hard to get a job. At the start, I had to depend on event companies.
Sometimes, waking up early [is also a challenge], especially during seasonal periods. I had to wake up as early as 4am, and reach home at 12am to 1am, because there are back-to-back events.
What are some of the memorable experiences you’ve had as a balloon artist?
In 2012, I was told I’ll be doing balloons for a minister. When I went [to the event], I realised it’s the Prime Minister’s house, so I got pretty shocked.
I don’t think we’ll be doing balloons for them next year, though. I think they are sick and tired of balloons already (laughs).
Does balloon sculpting help you in your relationships?
During my secondary school days, yes. But it doesn’t really help much for older women!
What motivates you in your work?
The fun. When I perform for parties, it’s 80 per cent having fun and 20 per cent stress. I don’t feel like I’m working!
What advice will you give to youths considering a career as a balloon sculptor?
If you like it, go ahead! But if you want to turn your hobby into a full-time career, it would be wise for you to give yourself a time frame.
If you start your own business, you need to be very disciplined as you’ll become very lazy after a while if you don’t make use of your time well.
So, how do you keep yourself disciplined?
Usually, we’ll motivate each other as a team and have friendly competitions. Stay competitive – that’s one way.
|Educational requirements: None, as long as you are willing to learn.
Qualities needed: Discipline, patience, good communication skills, and an interest in balloon art.
Salary range: Salary is usually given in an hourly rate. You can earn about $4,000 per month. But after deduction of transport and material costs, you may bring home about $2,800.
Working hours: Balloon artists usually work during weekends. Hours are flexible, depending on the events they take up.
Career prospects: Balloon artists can venture into balloon decorations or pick up new skills like magic to perform at parties.