In their simplest form, balloons are a bonus.
They are never necessary, really, the way a birthday calls for cake or Christmas calls for a tree or many occasions can be covered with a card.
When thinking of celebrating someone, balloons might not be the first thought. Maybe that’s their specialty, the way balloons say: “Here’s something extra.”
To multiply that sentiment, people might call in Marc Feikert.
Marvelous Marc, as he’s known, does not show up with balloons in their simplest form.
At birthday parties or company picnics, he creates balloons to look like princesses, bouquets of flowers, picture frames and animated characters.
To a Colorado Springs cafe on a recent morning, he brought one of his signature creations: an octopus with curvy orange arms and cartoonesque eyes. It looked to be blowing bubbles. Each part was formed with balloons, using a smattering of sizes and colors. Feikert fashioned the piece to a headband.
“Here,” he said, smiling while handing the gift over. “Put this on and embarrass yourself.”
Feikert was met with fist bumps and high-fives, all from wide-eyed strangers who didn’t expect to see balloon art while waiting for breakfast.
“As soon as I show up with one of these, I’m like an instant celebrity,” he said.
This has happened a lot since 2012, when Feikert picked up the hobby of balloon art.
If you ask him how long he’s been doing this, he’ll look at his watch. It’s one of his bits learned over the years as an entertainer.
Another? When you ask what inspired Feikert to start this, he’ll joke, “My wife’s big mouth!”
It was at a birthday party for one of their kid’s friends. There was a balloon station set up, but no one knew how to work it.
His wife chimed in, “My husband knows how!”
Feikert kind of knew how. He’d made a balloon dog or two before. This time, it just clicked.
After the party, Feikert left with a gift. He found something new to learn and enjoy. And, unlike his other interests, it was creative.
The self-described brainiac always favored math and science and studied theoretical linguistics in college. He now works in a “specialized area of information architecture,” which he says is the short way of describing his full-time job.
The “balloon artist” side of him might seem random.
“You could say it’s out of my element,” he said.
You’ll find it’s not, though, as Feikert finds a joke in most conversation topics. His light-hearted personality has found a home as Marvelous Marc (marvelousmarcballoons.com), the name of his balloon art business.
“It doesn’t surprise me that I picked this up,” Feikert said. “It surprised me it took so long.”
He still enjoys surprising people with his skills.
When he’s asked to create a sword, one of the most common requests, he makes it a giant sword. When he’s asked for something less common, like a sneeze or a robot chicken, he thinks on his feet.
“You wonder why people think it’s so magical?” he said. “Because they’ve never seen anything like it.”
This is why, Feikert says, balloon art has endured as a favorite party trick for decades. And more than that. It’s an industry with conventions and competitions. When people throw parties, they still hire balloon artists. In Colorado Springs, there are a few numbers to call.
“Why is this not a fad that has gone away?” he said. “Balloons are magical. There is some awe and magic around it. All I’m doing is adding to it.”