Spirits lifted by viral '365 Days of Balloons' project - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Spirits lifted by viral '365 Days of Balloons' project

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Coleman says this is the "cheeseburger that started it all" - a request by a colleague made her project a viral sensation. (Source: Meghan Paige Coleman) Coleman says this is the "cheeseburger that started it all" - a request by a colleague made her project a viral sensation. (Source: Meghan Paige Coleman)
The alligator has also been a popular air sculpture from her project. (Source: Meghan Paige Coleman) The alligator has also been a popular air sculpture from her project. (Source: Meghan Paige Coleman)
The Christmas tree was one of Coleman's favorites and a big hit at a family Christmas party. (Source: Meghan Paige Coleman) The Christmas tree was one of Coleman's favorites and a big hit at a family Christmas party. (Source: Meghan Paige Coleman)
Coleman says the flying pig came with a great story from a Tumblr request. (Source: Meghan Paige Coleman) Coleman says the flying pig came with a great story from a Tumblr request. (Source: Meghan Paige Coleman)

(RNN) – Graphic designer Meghan Coleman calls herself a creative adventurer – a person who jumps at any challenge and new idea that sparks her artistic side.

Coleman, 28, has nurtured that inner creative adventurer with an idea to turn her childhood hobby of balloon art into a viral sensation she calls 365 Days of Balloons.

"I started doing this when I was 12 with an activity book and did them off and on," Coleman said. "I didn't do more than the average dog. At first, I used it as a party trick."

The party trick turned into a serviceable one. Coleman started doing events - the first was a church function for her aunt.

Several years later, her aunt called on her to create balloon designs for a school event, where Coleman says she twisted and knotted more than 600 balloon creations ... in four hours.

But it's the big project that has caught the world's attention - the 365 Days of Balloons challenge.

She started with a goal to create a different balloon sculpture everyday for a year last September, based on requests from friends, family, colleagues and her own creative process.

Coleman uses her graphics design education from Bowling Green University and The University of Arts London to plan out her ideas before she even attempts a piece of art.

The project has transformed her into an "air sculptor" who uses tricks she's learned from other balloon sculptors to craft an art that's uniquely her own.

"A lot of balloon artists could show me up, but I am trying to capture these balloons in a specific format and bring a graphics background into it that goes with my design side," Coleman said.

Coleman's air sculptures have captured a large web following, with more than 44,000 followers on her Tumblr blog. She does take requests for ideas and goes through them daily. But she says she receives more compliments than requests, and Coleman says she's found the experience "humbling."

"I made a cheeseburger for a friend and colleague," Coleman said. "I told him he was out of his mind, but it actually came together really great. I went from 39 follows (on Tumblr) on Friday morning to over 16,000 followers that Monday morning. It's just fascinating. I couldn't believe it. A cheeseburger started it all."

Other balloons that have been popular on her blog include a flying pig, an alligator and themed creations for the holidays that included a Christmas tree in her parents' living room that she said made her feel like Will Ferrell's character in Elf.

Fans have shared personal stories with her, telling Coleman they've found her art inspiring and heartwarming.

"I just like to make people smile with my artwork," Coleman said.

She never misses any office birthdays or children's events, making folks smile wherever she goes.

Coleman has gotten more than 200 requests since she started the project, and nearly a third of her finished creations have been through user suggestions. Through her Tumblr, she answers all questions and reads the stories from fans. She can't answer all of the balloon requests, but if she fills one, she lets that lucky fan know.

"I don't know if I'll ever get to the One Direction or Justin Bieber balloon, but I will certainly try to get to the more interesting requests that I get," she said.

Coleman says once she's finished, her next project will be to attempt to fulfill the rest of her fan's wishes. She also wants to create an art gallery-style book that includes her original air sculptures with how-to's on building them.

But first, she will have to rest her hands – air sculptures are hard work.

Follow me on Twitter @TanitaG_RNN.

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