Author Topic: Brian Asman Interview 22nd/28th June  (Read 5688 times)

Graham Lee

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Brian Asman Interview 22nd/28th June
« on: May 31, 2009, 05:07:55 PM »
Just had an email from Brian to say he'd like to do the interview so hoping to sort out a date near the end of June.
Brian has a lovely balloon act wher he puts together a lady latex doll, it's very very funny.
I've seen it twice and really liked it  :D and another thing Thelma is a big fan of Brian's as well :D
This is Brian's website; http://www.balloonsequalfun.com/
and his portfolio page can be seen at; http://brianasman.balloonhq.com/
« Last Edit: June 01, 2009, 10:58:59 PM by Graham Lee »
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Thelma Levett

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Re: Brian Asman Interview, date TBC
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2009, 11:47:44 PM »
Yep I just love Brian!!
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Graham Lee

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Re: Brian Asman Interview, date TBC
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2009, 09:55:15 AM »
But I thought you loved me :o  I'm devastated and may need to go into therapy now
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Graham Lee

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Re: Brian Asman Interview 22nd/28th June
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2009, 10:59:34 PM »
Brian has confirmed the dates now so his interview will be the 22nd/28th June
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Tonya

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Re: Brian Asman Interview 22nd/28th June
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2009, 02:08:41 PM »
yea...I can't wait!
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Have a happy day \":-)\"

Tonya

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Re: Brian Asman Interview 22nd/28th June
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2009, 04:04:16 PM »
Hello Balloon Chat Forum!  Thank you Graham for inviting me to be here.  I already see two other names in this thread before I had a chance to post.  Hi Thelma and Tonya!  Thank you for the great welcome!

I notice that the dates say June 22/28.  Would it be alright for me to post some answers sooner if I can?

-Brian
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jackmagic1

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Re: Brian Asman Interview 22nd/28th June
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2009, 01:40:13 AM »
Im gonna start this off... Hi Asman!!  How many hours do you think you have put in to figuring out how to make the balloons move like you do?
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How much do you charge?  A fortune!

brookchef

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Re: Brian Asman Interview 22nd/28th June
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2009, 07:00:12 PM »
Hey Jack!  Nice to see you here.  I've started answering the set question list already, but since you posted this question I'll answer it first.  

The short answer is... a lot.

Here's the long answer...

When I wanted to create animatronics for Balloon Manor, I did some research on servo motors.  I found a circuit board with the ability to control about 10 servo motors simultaneously.  It was programmed through the computer, and the biggest drawback was that it needed to be connected to the computer for it to work.  I used this setup for my first animatronic attempt at Balloon Manor 2006.  I used an old laptop that was missing the screen and it was hidden behind a wall.  The effect was a vampire picture that had eyes which would move left to right every 30 seconds or so.  It worked!

The moving eyes seemed like a small step, but it gave me the desire to be able to create moving sculptures without needing to be connected to a computer.  In 2007, Larry Moss introduced me to Maarten Hoffman, and he lived about a 30 minute drive away (I think he has moved since).  Maarten has a deep understanding of electronics, and had the home-made calculator and many other projects in his home to prove it.  I met Maarten 5 weeks before Balloon Manor, and explained my desire to control several servo motors to act on a specific timeline, add a delay, and repeat.  I left with a list of parts and tools I would need to build a circuit board.

I returned to Maarten with all the tools and parts I needed.  I asked him to show me, and instead of showing me, he directed me every step of the way.  Wire cutting and stripping, diagram, soldering and anything else that was necessary.  This was all new to me, and I asked a number of questions as we went along.  I headed home with this new knowledge, and built another 12 or 14 circuit boards on my own.  

Maarten also wrote a script that allowed me to program the movements more easily.  I won't get too far into it, but a series of numbers to designate position and delay to each of the servo motors connected.  This particular circuit board could handle up to 4 servo motors.

Time to Balloon Manor - 3 weeks.

After building all the boards, and installing the software on my computer, I got to work.  My first several attempts to program the boards failed.  I spent several days trying to get a basic movement and it just wasn't working (or I wasn't getting it).  Another visit to Maarten allowed me to demonstrate what I was doing.  The program needed one tweak, and found out that I overlooked a thing or two as well.  

My plan was to set up all the framework, have the circuit boards programmed, and have them all shipped to Rochester, NY.  I was going to see some family in New York City for one week prior to the build.

It was very time consuming to get the movements somewhat smooth, and to time multiple servos properly.  I spent the final four weeks before my trip working on the circuit boards and programming and cutting and drilling etc. from the moment I woke up until it was bedtime.  The only time I wasn't working on this, was when I was working as a balloon artist.  

When it came time to fly to NY, I had just figured out the programming aspect.  I wound up working morning to night in New York City for the next 3 or 4 days and finally, it was ready to go.  

To sum it all up, I spent about a month of intense work to get it all ready.  I used the same circuit boards for the animatronics in the Kitchen at Balloon Manor 2008, and am planning on using them again for the Kitchen in 2009.

-Brian Asman
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brookchef

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Re: Brian Asman Interview 22nd/28th June
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2009, 03:43:38 PM »
Hello friends,  here are the first 10 questions.  More to follow.

1, What road led you into balloon modelling?

While working an externship for chef school, I saw another chef juggling lemons.  Seeing this, I wanted to learn the same skill.  Some time after that, I purchased some Koosh balls (the rubbery balls that resemble a porcupine), which were very forgiving and great to learn with.  No book or instructions, I figured out how to keep 3 balls going.  

A fellow chef saw me practicing, and expressed interest in having me perform at his son’s upcoming 3rd birthday.  I explained that I was just learning this, and couldn’t keep the balls in the air for more than 10-15 seconds.  He was very persistent, and kept telling me “You’re going to be great.  They’re going to love you!”  Somehow, he talked me into it.  

The night before the party, I found myself in a bookstore.  I just happened to come across a “How To Make Balloon Animals” kit.  I learned all 8 figures from the book that night.  The next day, I went to an outdoor mall to twist with an audience.  I didn’t expect it, but I was so nervous, my hands were shaking.  After an hour or so, I felt more comfortable.

At the party, I started with juggling, then it was time for balloons.  I realized I had forgotten to pack the bulb pump that came with the kit.  Naturally, I had a difficult time when trying to mouth inflate.  The crowd thought it was a gag and the bit went on and on.  Finally, I had not choice but to come clean.  “I know this looks funny, but I forgot the pump.  I’m really trying to blow these up!”  All the adults joined in to try.  Five minutes later, we were all red faced, some with an inflated balloon.  Looking back, I can’t believe they were able to do it.  

Word got around, and the phone started ringing.


2, when did you get started with balloons?

1997


3, What’s your best twisting experience?

This is a toss up, so I will give 2.  

a.   While traveling to The Millennium Jam with a friend, I had an overnight layover in Iceland. We stopped at a pizza place for lunch.  When we arrived, we were the only ones there.  By the time we were done eating, there were 4 other families as well, so we started twisting.  Everyone spoke English except one family.  There were 3 children, and the oldest, a girl about 7 or 8 was closely watching my hands while I was making something for her brother.  Sensing her interest, I handed her an inflated 260.  I inflated another and using sounds rather than language, I went through the steps of a basic dog with a basic twist, repeated 3 times (not a 3 twist dog).  I inflated another and repeated it a second time.  After the first series, which she followed along with, I made a sound using the tip of my tongue and my upper lip.  It sounded something like “blahduladuladuladulam” to emphasize that the 2nd and 3rd part were the same as the first.  She had a slightly confused expression.  Her brother, who was watching as well, understood what I was ‘saying’, and physically showed her with his hands while making the same sound I made.

b.   A while back, I was selling sculptures at a local farmer’s market, and was working next to the ‘weekly musician(s)’.  This particular day, there was a guitar player.  While in the midst of making a large advanced sculpture, I started following the music.  The musician was just out of my field of vision.  A quick move here, some kind of flourish there, all in time with the music.  It finally hit me that the musician was allowing me to lead and he was following my movements.  I built up to a big finish, he followed my lead and finished at precisely the same moment.  We were met with raving applause.

As in both of these examples, I love it when this kind of (mostly) non-verbal communication happens!


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

I haven’t had anything terrible happen in this line of work but I know the potential exists.

Recently, I was performing at a city run event “Family Day At The Park”.  While there was not a line, I did have many people seated, watching and waiting for a balloon sculpture.  One woman came in with her daughter and felt that she should get a balloon NOW.  After politely explaining that there was an order, she proceeded to get in my face and demand a balloon.  Again, I explained that there is an order and everyone is welcome to watch.  When I realized this was not going to stop her, my reply was, “I’m not going to argue with you” (in a non-confrontational tone).  I had to repeat it three times before she walked took her child by the wrist and angrily walked away.  There were well over one hundred other people in the room that were there before her.  About 5 minutes later, A member of the staff approached me and said there was a complaint about the balloons. The staff member went on to say that these nice people have been waiting, and haven’t received a balloon.  I reiterated there was an order.  She then asked if I could just make something simple for this little girl. It was apparent that the woman gave this staff member an earful.  Staff member repeats “Can’t you just make something simple for her?”  I stopped her, and asked if she could count exactly how many people were in the room.  After a confused look in return, I repeated my question.  She started counting, and after about 10, she looked at me.  I told her if she can get everyone else in the room to say it was ok for me to make a balloon for this guest ahead of them, then I’ll do it.  She looked at the crowd, looked at me, turned around and walked away.  She did not leave in a huff.  She just calmly walked away.  I was able to see that the staff member got it.  The woman in tow followed.  

I will never reward such behavior.


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

I love the interactions with people of all ages.  I get to see the child in many adults, as well as the maturity of some children.  Balloons have allowed me to touch lives in a truly special way.


6, What's your favourite age to entertain?

I enjoy different ages for different reasons.  See above answer, plus I love the unfiltered honesty from children.


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

I do not have a set ‘act’ for specific ages.  When I am performing, I want to cater to the crowd at hand.  This may not be linked to age alone.


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

Something I have never made before.


9, What is the most asked for model?

Can you make a dog?.

Copyrighted characters.  I do not create them on the spot, and encourage creative thinking instead.  


10, What do you tend to do more of if stuck in the 'balloon production line' model?

I do not typically work a production line.  If that does happen, I still offer ‘anything you can imagine.  Now now... you get to choose what, I get to choose the size.
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Bad to the Balloon

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Re: Brian Asman Interview 22nd/28th June
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2009, 09:16:30 PM »
Hi Brian,

You mentioned selling sculptures ... what exactly is your approach to doing this? Normally, East Coast USA, I find a strange reaction to this vs the for tips method.

Not that I am awfully fond of that either!!
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brookchef

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Re: Brian Asman Interview 22nd/28th June
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2009, 03:18:11 AM »
Hi Mark,

Thanks for joining in!

I had a unique situation where I was asked to do my thing at this particular market, which happens to be the nicest/high end market in the area.  Market management encouraged me to set the prices myself.  Until this market, it was ‘whatever you’d like to give’.  

I should point out that I went to this market for the sole reason of showing off my talent and handing out my card.  I did need to make something for my travel, time etc., but I was not there to make money!  This allowed me to offer a “free upgrade” whenever I felt it was appropriate.  Free upgrades allow us to make larger, more detailed pieces for all to see, without having to repeat that design.  If someone else simply must have it, then you can charge accordingly.

My first idea was to have a tiered system, but found that just explaining any type of pricing structure slowed me down.  I changed it to one price for “Anything you can imagine,” and I made sculptures I felt were worth it. If the request was for a giant anything, I replied with “Now, now… you choose what it is, and I (emphasize the I) get to choose the size.”  Please note that one child = one sculpture (if a child requested a sword, I would dress them as a pirate, or a knight with a hat, sword and any other accoutrements.  This would be one sculpture). I also offered, “Let me choose for you.  If you don’t like it, you don’t have to take it!”  There was a line, I worked at a good pace and anyone who wanted to wait was welcome to.  I never rushed anyone, and every sculpture was a masterpiece.  If I grew bored of making any one particular design, I explained that I had reached my monkey (or other) quota for today and they can ask for anything else.

I did not have any signage.  Most folks would simply come up and ask, “How much are the balloons?”  If I had any doubt that the people before me did not know the price, I was sure to repeat “They’re X each, is that ok?” or something along those lines before I began.  This prevented any awkward moments with those who weren’t aware of the price.   Occasionally, folks had spent all their cash on groceries, and would ask if I could just make something simple.  My answer to this would be that every sculpture needs to meet my own standards first and each one represents my work.  I would then offer make it anyway, and they can just “get me next time.”  This didn’t happen often, and I was happy to accommodate.  

Some folks scoffed at the price, while others had no problem with it.    I had no problem with those who thought it was too expensive.  Some folks even tipped me on top of that to show their appreciation.  I had many regulars that I knew by name.  

I hope I didn’t miss any details.  If this leads to other questions, please post them.

-Brian Asman
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Guest »

Graham Lee

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Re: Brian Asman Interview 22nd/28th June
« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2009, 08:40:14 AM »
Brian,

Could you explain the circumstances of how it came about that at the millennium jam Thelma had to slap you around the face really hard twice in one evening when you were both together in a bungalow  :D  :lol:
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brookchef

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Re: Brian Asman Interview 22nd/28th June
« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2009, 04:54:52 PM »
Hi Graham.  

Those who were in attendance at The Millennium Jam 2007 will most likely know the answer to this (including you, Graham!).  For those readers who weren’t there…

All instructors at The Millennium Jam are asked to present a performance during the Gala Show (the final night when they are naming the winners and handing out awards and prizes).  I was an instructor, and I came up with the idea for my performance just before I left The USA for Europe.  

The skit was for an adult audience.  I portrayed a simple man who receives a ‘build-a-date” package.  At the end of the performance, the doll slaps me.  

I found myself going over the scenario with Bidou and Thelma.  Bidou needed to see the timing for the curtain prop, and we needed to choreograph the slap as well.  I did not have a mic, and I wanted the slap to be heard by the entire audience.  How can I accomplish this?  Smack me, hard!  Yes, I mean it!  The funny thing is, Thelma had a real hard time slapping me.  Her first attempt was quite wimpy, I think she pulled back at the last moment.  The sound wasn’t loud enough, nor was it the full force slap I had in mind.  So I showed Thelma the sweet spot on my cheek, and asked her to try it again.  Her reply was that she just couldn’t look me in the eye and slap me.  She just couldn’t!  “C’mon, you can do this!” I said, “I need you to!”  At that point, Bidou asked me a question, I turned slightly in his direction, and with no warning at all, SMACK!!!  Thelma smacked me so hard!  I was totally off guard, and it hurt!  There was a moment of silence, and then all three of us could not stop laughing!

Thank you Bidou for all your hard work to make this idea become a reality!  
Thank you Virginie Dukers for being the doll that you are.
Thank you Maarten Verhoef for the music selection.
Thank you Arneau for being a stage hand.
Thank you Thelma for slapping me!

-Brian Asman
« Last Edit: June 24, 2009, 07:28:48 PM by brookchef »

Professor T Wist

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Re: Brian Asman Interview 22nd/28th June
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2009, 07:35:22 PM »
Thanks for doing the interview, great reading so far, keep up the good work.
My questions are, who would you most like to make a model for and why?
What would you make them ?
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Danny the Idiot

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Re: Brian Asman Interview 22nd/28th June
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2009, 10:10:23 PM »
Hi Brian,

I too have some questions too!

What is your favourite balloon colour?

what is your favourite balloon shape?

what or who makes you laugh?


thanks
best wishes
Danny
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