So, I’m sitting at my desk and perusing through the piles of papers and magazines and photos and, and, and…! Up pops an Images catalog from Pioneer from 1992. 1992, that’s fifteen years ago! There was a Bush in the White House – but not this one. There was the verdict in the Rodney King case that sparked riots in Los Angeles. Dan Quayle made his famous Murphy Brown speech and Jay Leno clocked in as the host of The Tonight Show a few days later and (no doubt) skewered our simple minded Vice-President. And then there was this lovely catalog.
What’s so important about this record of designs of the day, ads for product and words of wisdom from its editors? Quite simply that it could have been written today rather than nearly two decades ago and it would still seem fresh. Now, you can take that statement two ways. Way #1 is to heap great praise on the publishers of this tome, as they had the foresight to create designs and ideas that still seem fresh even today. Way #2 is not so nice.
I propose to you that Way #2 is quite simply all of us not making enough of a difference. Should fifteen years of designs and innovations, new products, tools and technology bring us ever more fresh work? I submit to you that it should. I also submit to you that the decorating side of the balloon business, for the most part, has grown stagnant. The non-round side of the business is still very much on a cutting edge of design work, thought and innovation. But where has the decorating market been? Why does fifteen year old work not look dated in some way?
The Australian singer-songwriter Peter Allen wrote a song entitled “Everything Old is New Again” that has become almost a mantra for life in general. (Mr. Allen passed away in 1992 as well!). Is the title of his song so prophetic as to suggest its just fine to let the old be the new – end of story?
I understand it is very important to learn from and cherish older ideas, designs and ways of doing business. I actually enjoy selling things we have created years ago and use all the time. But how do we move forward without innovation, new dreams, new tools and new designs? Yes, we do have some new materials to work with, a few new tools and more colors in the latex and foil palette. For sure, some balloon artists are continuing to create marvelously original designs. However, NOTHING directly from the balloon industry has come forward in the last few years (at the very least) that has rocked our world, changed how we do business and made our designs look completely different.
I feel like Samuel Beckett – Waiting for Godot. I’m still waiting. Will that something new, something so special ever arrive again?