Creating Fantasies Balloon Artist He Kun-Long／何坤龍 用氣球幻化出天方夜譚
Creating Fantasies Balloon Artist He Kun-Long
◎English translation: Wendy Wei Chang
◎Photo by Hou Ya-ting
Mr. He Kun-Long is a talented balloon artist who creates large, vivid balloon characters by twisting various sized balloons together. Mr. He has been twisting balloons for 12 years and has received several awards for his talents. These include, several at the Taiwan International Balloon Artwork Contest and first place at the International Balloon Artwork Contest held in Malaysia. For the last two years, he has also been teaching balloon modeling in Taiwan and has been invited to give lectures in Shanghai, Qingdao and Hong Kong.
He got into balloon modeling after quit his full-time job, to better care for his family. He saw a balloon artist at a wedding reception and was inspired about how effortlessly the gentleman twisted the balloons into an arch. Mr. He felt if he could just master the art, he too would make a living at being a balloon artist. He then had someone teach him the fundamentals, such as inflating and twisting the balloons and also spent time learning the skill on his own. After only three years, he mastered the art and feels the more challenging the balloon character, the greater his sense of achievement.
Mr. He has gained a great deal of recognition for some of his initiatives. He pioneered a technique of applying make-up to the faces of Peking Opera balloon models and has created a 300-centimeter tall Bumblebee Transformer, a highlight he teaches overseas. He uses other techniques such as spray paint and tape in order to highlight the Transformer's bright colors and charismatic features.
Mr. He's balloon characters are particularly vivid, which he attributes to his diligent research and keen observation. He carefully studies objects' shapes and expressions in order to convey them realistically in his balloon art. Another example that exemplifies his true passion was once when he was creating his Bumblebee Transformer masterpiece, he lost all strength in his fingers due to fatigue. His advice for people interested in taking up the art of balloon modeling is to take classes and once they know the basic skills then make their artwork special by incorporating individual creativity.
Shanaka Karunaratne Always Brings Great Customer Service
◎English translation: Charles Lin
◎Photo by Hou Ya-ting
Mr. Shanaka Karunaratne is the supervisor of Grand Hi-Lai Hotel's Harbour Restaurant and has worked there for 7 years. He is always seen making his rounds, checking every detail and ensuring everything is running to perfection. Although he has been working in the hotel industry for twenty-three years, he doesn't take his job lightly. The native Sri Lankan, always delivers great service and makes sure his guests are fully satisfied and happy.
Shanaka met his then Taiwanese girlfriend, while studying hotel management in Switzerland. After they married, they relocated to her hometown of Kaohsiung. He feels Kaohsiung is a wonderful city and particularly admires its safe environment. He is also impressed with its rapid transit system, high speed rail and numerous quality hotels. When he first arrived eight years ago, he couldn't speak any Chinese, but now he is fully capable of having fluent conversations.
He believes the secret to success in the hospitality industry is to love what you do. He always draws on his extensive experience to solve problems and ensure service is delivered with thoughtful consideration. He has also learned how to predict guests' needs and guarantees satisfaction. Although it is a high pressure industry, after a hard day's work he reflects on compliments he received that day, making the hard work all worth it. Whether it's the good food or the good service, all the recognition gives him a great sense of accomplishment.
Shanaka enjoys his life in Kaohsiung and is happy to see that it is becoming more international, with several world class sporting events being hosted here. When he isn't working, he cherishes the time he spends with his family. He enjoys taking them on walks on Cijin Island and Shoushan. When he finishes his shift, he always goes home to play with his children and recharges his batteries, energized for another rewarding day.