BALLOONING IN THE BIG APPLE


Since arriving in New York City in 2003, Brooklyn-based balloon artist Todd Neufeld has built balloon hats and sculptures at corporate parties, crafted balloon wedding dresses, worked with a Parisian photographer on an Americana-themed balloon photo shoot (complete with a balloon American flag, hot dog and rocket ship) and even formed a local balloon-artist organization called NY Twisters.

“This is for sure one of the greatest cities in the world, and there are constantly cool things happening. And there’s always room for another balloon person, whether for a window display or a grand opening or something on stage,” he says. The only constraint? In a city where everyone travels by foot, subway or taxi, hauling a kit filled with 85 types of balloons plus a giant air pump to events simply isn’t possible. “If I lived in a different city, I could keep everything in a car and roll out a giant display. But here, I have to be picky about what I bring, because I always have to pack it up and carry it,” Neufeld explains.

But in a way, those limitations are actually a plus, since they always force Neufeld to think creatively. And that’s something that’s symbolic of life as a whole for an artist in New York City, where everyone thinks they’ve seen it all. “When you live in New York, you can’t believe your own hype. It’s impossible to become arrogant in a city where so many talented people live, so there’s always that balance of feeling humbled — and also feeling encouraged to do better,” Neufeld says. “If I don’t constantly push the envelope, I’ll become irrelevant.”

His latest endeavor? If you’re headed to the Big Apple (and have the kids in tow), we suggest checking it out for yourself: Neufeld’s new monthly variety show, Little Laffs, mixes juggling, balloon art, music, comedy and more on the first Sunday of each month at the Jalopy Theatre in Brooklyn. Learn more at www.littlelaffsny.com.