Growing old is inevitable, but growing up is optional.
Louisiana-based artist Mister Balloon Hands embodies this mentality exactly. Though his identity may be a mystery to the public, his style is definitely recognizable. His eccentric murals and stand-alone paintings heavily feature notable, nostalgic cartoon characters and pop culture icons. Simply put, they are memorable.
Mister Balloon Hands now has works of art all around the state, but he says he only recently became an artist. He had always fostered an interest, but never acted on it. After moving to New Orleans in 2011, he befriended a local artist that encouraged him to start drawing, and later, to continue creating.
“My friend ACHOO said he liked my balloon character and told me to keep drawing it,” he said. “I haven’t stopped since.”
He kept experimenting with his style and different characters, occasionally posting his creations on social media. Before long, he gained a following — and a nickname. “Mister Balloon Hands” comes from a viral video by Dan Deacon and Liam Lynch called “Drinking Out of Cups.”
“I would post [my paintings] on social media sometimes and people would often quote that video,” the artist said. “The name just kind of stuck.”
Now, eight years later, Mister Balloon Hands has brought his style right to the gates of The University. Barcadia’s newest decoration, a vibrant, Q*bert-inspired mural, is a perfect representation of the nostalgic, playful theme his art has come to represent.
The artist says his style developed from his childhood love of cartoons. He enjoys adding lifelike touches and details to normally flat characters, essentially fitting them into a universe of his own creation.
Mister Balloon Hands’s style skillfully balances pre-existing characters and personal touches, creating something recognizable but still unique. His pieces evoke nostalgia, but still remain fresh and exciting to view — something that many modern artists fail to achieve.
“I grew up watching cartoons my whole life,” Mister Balloon Hands said. “Now that I’ve created my own style of work, I wanted to be able to put my spin on the characters and pop icons that influenced me the most.”
The anonymous artist has numerous murals in both public and private locations, mostly in the New Orleans area. His characters adorn the walls of tattoo parlors, pizza restaurants and art collectives alike, but he hasn’t limited himself to just large-scale, spray-painted works.
Mister Balloon Hands also produces art in a more portable form. His list of mediums is expansive, from tiny plaques to school buses, but he enjoys utilizing acrylic paints and canvas to bring his creations to life. Some of these works are available for sale on his Instagram, @mrballoonhandsfu, and he even does commissions if a buyer has something specific in mind.
Mister Balloon Hands is bringing creative interpretations of well-loved characters to Louisiana. After only a few years of creating, his art can be found all around the state. Though his pieces are all unique, each sends a clear message to the public: never grow up.