From his home in Kanagawa, Japan, Masayoshi Matsumoto spends his days working with one of the world’s most delicate, and frustratingly fragile materials: balloons.
In an approach that can only be described as pure magic, Masayoshi’s creations push the capabilities of balloon art to the absolute maximum, playing with shape, shading and expression in his lifelike depictions. From a hummingbird to a smiling quokka, or even a little grub, Masayoshi can render pretty much any animal or insect in balloon form.
Originally a chemical engineer, Masayoshi began his journey into creating these artworks via “a juggling club 13 years ago,” he tells It’s Nice That. He soon made the switch over to this dexterous task, leaving behind chemical engineering in favour of creating his own animals and insects daily – a focus that simply developed from the fact “I’ve liked creatures since I was small,” he says. “Now I make my living as a balloon artist.”
When it comes to creating these pieces, at first the artist will start like most and compile a wide range of imagery, collecting “photos of animals that are the motifs,” he tells us. “Then, I am creating through trial and error, by referring to those photos.” Those who follow his hugely popular Instagram account are treated to seeing this process in action. For instance, in a recent video of how to make a balloon rabbit, Masayoshi begins by layering the animal with just one balloon, twisting and turning sections to build on top of one another, forming the rabbit’s body. Every part is made out of balloons, down to its tiny red eye slipped in at the end. And, as explained in the eager comments, Masayoshi wears gloves soaked in water-based wax to stop the balloons from bursting while he’s handling them. “What I make depends on my mood at the time,” he adds. “I make the first thing that comes up in my mind.”
Scrolling back through Masayoshi’s account, which goes by the name Isopresso Balloon, his creations go all the way back to 2017 and are always accompanied by gushing comments from followers. From early masterpieces including a rendition of a jellyfish and an upright rooster or the more simple earthworm, “I find it rewarding to be able to help people through balloon art,” Masayoshi adds. “I also feel happy when I can create a work of art that I am satisfied with.” Also open to commissions directly, the artist adds that of late its been requests for larger animals, like a giraffe or horse that have proved most popular. “I’ll do my best to meet the expectations of my fans,” he says.
Also teaching others his craft through step-by-step YouTube guides, Masayoshi adds that he hopes his intricate craft is an example of how layered and thoughtful the actual act of balloon art really is. “When they hear the term ‘balloon art’, many people imagine a poodle or such,” he explains, “but I would like people to realise that there is an area of this art form that takes time to create complex works too.”
GalleryMasayoshi Matsumoto: Isopresso Balloon (Copyright © Masayoshi Matsumoto, 2021)
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Masayoshi Matsumoto: Isopresso Balloon (Copyright © Masayoshi Matsumoto, 2021)
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.