Lifestyle

Balloon artist pursues goal of spreading smiles through art

by Shinnosuke Masuko

Kyodo

Balloon artist Erisa Sasaki has traveled around Japan and overseas in pursuit of her goal to “bring smiles to people across the world” with her inflatable artworks.

Sasaki, 38, a resident of Sapporo, Hokkaido, was a nervous child who tried to avoid attending elementary and middle school. When she reached senior high school, she gradually became more outgoing and served as president of the student council.

After graduating, Sasaki worked a range of jobs, including operating a restaurant. She became exhausted as she worked day and night and experienced hardships in her private life.

By her late 20s, she was suffering severe depression.

One day in 2007, she was given a balloon flower at a restaurant in Otaru, Hokkaido.

“I saw a bright pink color spread in my black-and-white world,” she recalled.

Sasaki then learned balloon-twisting techniques and gave her products to her family members and friends.

“I felt happy” because they were pleased with her products, she said.

Sasaki made more products and began offering them to people at social gatherings and cherry-blossom viewing parties.

As Sasaki became widely known through word of mouth, “I found myself making (balloon objects) as my job,” she laughed. She is happy to see smiles from audience members when demonstrating her balloon-twisting techniques.

In 2011, Sasaki founded a company called Balloon Magician to enable more people to enjoy balloon art. With requests for demonstrations flooding into the company, Sasaki and staff members have performed around Japan as well as in China and the Philippines.

A total of around 2,000 people have so far received lessons at classes held by Balloon Magician, with some 250 balloon artists across Japan having come through Sasaki’s program.

On the company’s website Sasaki and staff members disclose their techniques other balloon artists may want to keep secret so as to “increase smiles,” she said.