Molly Munyan in her Royals-inspired balloon dresses (image credit: Bo Flores Photography)
Molly Munyan is a Kansas City-based balloon artist. She is known for her handcrafted balloon outfits. Munyan recently held a balloon fashion show. Molly discussed how she became interested in crafting balloon outfits, her creative process
Did you come from an artistic family?
Somewhat, my parents met through doing theater in college. They are artistic, but more on the performance side. I am definitely the child that is the culmination of the most artistic aspects of both of my parents. I am definitely the only one to try and make a career out of the arts. My two older biological brothers, neither of them are terribly artistic. I kind of got the lotto on the artiness.
What was your first memory of making art growing up?
I don’t really know, but I was always the kid that had my hands in something. Wrestling and soccer after recess, that wasn’t me. Staying late after art class, that was always me. I was always doing something. I haven’t had that much inclination towards 2D. It’s been origami, ceramics and Play-Doh, dumb shit like that. I’ve always been doing something like that.
What inspires your personal fashion sense?
Someone asked me, “If I was a combination of two icons, who would I be?” Easy, Pee-Wee Herman and Beyoncé. Getting dressed, I follow the motto of, “If I look like I would look good in a music video, I’m good to go.” Not all music video looks look the same, but they are extremely whatever they are. I want to look extremely whatever I look like. Just never settle.
What got you interested in creating balloon art?
I really just stumbled into it as a kid. I learned how to when I was bored in my parent’s basement. It wasn’t until I was 15 that I picked it back up. Everyone sort of asked me at once if I do parties. I was like, “Uhhh, I can.” The way I became a business professional is that I called Chick-fil-A and told them I’m a professional if they would hire me. They said yes, so I became a professional.
What was the first outfit you created out of balloons?
I was homecoming queen in high school. I made my homecoming dress out of balloons. I prototyped it a couple of times, but that was the first outfit I made. It’s what got me into it.
What is your creative process for crafting balloon fashion?
Making a balloon dress. Step one: Caffeinate. My creative process for the balloon dresses kind of varies. Sometimes, I’m like sitting at a stoplight and think, “This would be a great skirt design.” Then, I sketch it and I have it in the bank when I want to make a balloon dress. Other times, I sit down with a blank mental canvas and say, “What am I going to go for?” A lot of times, I have sketches in my balloon dress sketchbook. I pull from them, I pull from ideas that I’ve had. It always ends up a little different than you could ever plan. On paper or in your mind, it will never look the same as on the form. There are changes you do make along the way, but I do have a plan for it. Always.
How long does it take you to complete an outfit from start to finish?
It depends on what I’m making. A lot of the process is the creative process. Me sitting there going, “What am I going to do?” If I made a look and made the exact same look afterwards, it would take two-thirds of the time. It cuts out the creative process and I’ll I have to do is make balloons. Around 15 hours, often more, rarely less.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome in your career?
Honestly, my biggest challenges are just sort of being a real person. Responding to emails, being places on time, staying on top of the little things that aren’t fun. I’m much better at big artsy projects that I’m excited about. It’s always been hard for me to get shit done when I’m not passionate or inspired about what I’m doing. That’s a big challenge, getting things done to get me to the place where I want to be. The big art projects, the exciting, new things.
Do you have a favorite quote or motto that you live by?
“No one can be uncheered with a balloon.” -Winnie the Pooh.
“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases from being shared.” -Buddha
Also, “Be here now” is a thing I think about a lot. Living every moment to the fullest and that bullshit. My watch says now on it, so I can look down and remind myself that the time is now. No time like the present to be happy and make others happy.
What advice would you give to designers just starting out?
This is a piece of advice that I received from my favorite poet Steve Roggenbuck, “Make art that you like. If you make art that you think is going to attract the most people, you’ll find that your audience Is watered down with people that don’t like the real you or interested in the real you.” He also says that over time, you can’t fake passion. Do what you’re passionate about, things that you love. Your inspiration will never die if you’re still excited about what you are doing. You can even see with my Royals and Chiefs dresses, they were like marketing pieces. I don’t see them as sellouts because I loved what I was doing. I was excited about every part of the process. They were totally fun to make. I wasn’t making them for anyone but myself. It was fun.
Molly in her Chiefs-inspired balloon dress (image credit: Bo Flores Photography)