Balloons. Imagination. Awesomeness: Nashua business man showcases creativity
When local balloon artist Dan Staples was taking requests at a birthday party and someone asked for “Maury Povich sitting in a chair holding an envelope that says ‘you are not the father,'” he only had one question.
“What color do you want his shirt to be?”
Staples is the owner of Dan’s Balloons, a Nashua-based entertainment company that goes beyond the classic dog, flower, sword combo, and instead pushes the envelope, creating larger than life balloon sculptures.
He has filled requests for balloon pinecones, balloon vacuum cleaners, a balloon dog in a wheelchair (he even made the wheels spin) and everything in between.
“I’m not the typical kids entertainer,” he said, “I’m more of an artist …. I’ve always been creative.”
However, he never thought he would make a living building football players and superheroes out of
“I grew up in South Boston,” he explained. “I always thought I was destined to be a postal worker or a longshoreman, but I think this was meant to be.”
For a while, Staples worked at a shoe store in the mall, working 60 to 70 hours per week, exhausted and missing key moments in his young daughters’ lives.
Looking to get out of retail, he started working as a DJ for a friend’s entertainment company, which, after so many renditions of “Sweet Caroline” and “Don’t Stop Believing,” he said started to get old.
When his friend suggested he try balloons, he was skeptical, but spent three straight nights just trying to get the basics down without popping them.
Eventually he got the hang of it, to say the least, and branched out on his own.
The one thing that really “catapulted” his career was an ET the Extra Terrestrial sculpture he made, now on his business cards, that he posted online. He got an immediate response, and eventually, through some marketing strategies, got the attention of an marketing agent who wanted him to make ET balloons for a movie night at Patriot Place.
While he has done quite a bit of other work since then, Staples said that in balloon circles (and yes, there are apparently balloon circles), that is what he is known for, having created tutorials based off the piece.
Four years later, Staples is a full-time balloon artist, having done contracted work for the Patriots, Adult Swim, local events and even has a world record attempt under his belt.
Last week, Staples set out to beat the world record for the largest balloon sculpture completed by one individual.
Over the course of five days he made a huge Patriots logo, hung at The Hall at Patriot Place, hoping to reach over 70 feet long and 42 feet tall.
Unfortunately, he fell short, with measurements of 63 feet by 32 feet. The results were disappointing, he said, but also admitted that having to work standing up and making a design change halfway through likely set him back. Either way, he said, “I’m happy with the work that I did.”
Staples is not ready to quit on topping the record, and said he may make another attempt in the future.
Until then, he has some other goals: opening a work space on Main Street in Nashua.
Currently working out of his home and expanding all the time, Staples said he would like an actual site to set up, display his creations, and be able to keep some of the literal thousands of balloons he has on him at a given time.
He is also working on a children’s book, with balloon-inspired illustrations and a story about an alien and a robot, which is still a work in progress.
While he is not sure yet what his dream sculpture is, or what his next big thing will be, Staples is not content with complacency.
“No matter what I’ve done, I’ve always wanted to be different (from everyone else) and be better,” he said.
Aside from the sculptures he likes to experiment with free form, decorative pieces that might be appropriate for a wedding or formal event, which he does less of than he does parties, but still enjoys.
Creativity and imagination are important to him, so much so that his slogan is “Balloons. Imagination. Awesomeness.”
However, it’s not all helium giggles and bright colors. Balloons, by nature, are very temporary; most will deflate within a few days.
That part, he admitted, can be “kind of soul sucking.” Spending nearly eight hours on a Deadpool Costume, using over 600 balloons, only for it to be worn briefly and then sit in the living room, can be upsetting, when a painting, involving the same amount of effort, will last years.
This being said, sometimes there are moments that make it all worth it.
Over a year ago, he made a balloon figure of an Irish dancer for a girl. A year later, she brought it back to show him she still had it and loved it, even though it was all wilted and shriveled.
“Those are the people I want to do these things for, the ones who care,” he said. “It’s fulfilling in that sense.”
Staples is building a legacy in a field that is as limitless as it is unconventional.
“You can do almost anything with balloons,” he said.
And that’s exactly what he is trying to do.
Hannah LaClaire can be reached at 594-1243 or firstname.lastname@example.org