Maria Galura surrounded by her balloon art

Follow my Lead: Maria Dina Galura

Maria Dina Galura is the woman behind the beautiful balloon art
you see floating around Calgary.
Photo by Philip David.

Maria Dina Galura

You have probably seen one of Maria Galura’s many balloon arches, garlands and displays all around town. Now get to know the woman behind Calgary Party 50 and all the Calgary balloon décor.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

You can call me Maria. My family calls me Dina. My husband and I migrated to Calgary in 2011 from the Philippines. We started our family in Canada; our three girls make life so sweet.

You are the creator of so many of the beautiful balloon installations that Calgarians have come to enjoy. I’ve read that you are self-taught. How did you figure out how to make these balloon sculptures and be so creative?

I just realized tying knots and using strings could make a sculpted piece. In university, I got used to making scale models for projects. For my first balloon art installation in 2017, I made styrofoam balls connected by toothpicks and floral wire for my scale model.

Whenever I see a wall, building, open space, my eyes would fill it with balloons.

Building balloon sections and ending up with an organic shape that best fit the space makes me happy. Bridging an imagination to executing the sculpture is a wonderful process I enjoy.

Whenever I see a wall, building, open space, my eyes would fill it with balloons. I daydream and have been fortunate to turn those dreams to delightful art installations in Calgary.

Calgary balloons and sculptures bring the city to life

Your balloons make people so happy. What inspires you to make these beautiful balloon installations?

Balloons in any colour and size are an eye-pleasing, memory-building and wondrous art display of joy. It tugs on emotions and build new ones. They are a call for celebration! My balloon art installation is a visual experience that brings the community together. It delights all ages, be it a single giant balloon or a thousand in hue harmony, indoor or outdoor.

I am bringing stories to life through balloons. Each project is unique as it heeds to the pleasant experience for the audience, a vibe to share and rekindle childhood joy. As I started creating balloon art, I paid tribute to my life lessons, most happy moments and challenging ones too. Then as I had more to create, I welcome grand visions and always ask my clients, ‘What makes you happy?’

At the end of the day, as long as someone is happy seeing the balloons, I am fulfilled. This is the inspiration.

Maria Dina Galura setting up a balloon installation at Prince's Island Park.
Maria Dina Galura setting up a balloon installation at Prince’s Island Park.
Photo by Philip David.

Running the Calgary Party 50 business

How do you keep yourself motivated?

I keep a bucket list of projects to execute. I look forward to sharing balloon art experiences to different groups and that makes me excited. I find joy in organizing bins and bins of balloons. The array of colours, sizes and visual inventory I do is like being in a candy shop or a field of flowers for me. I love it.

Also, I am truly grateful to my clients through the years, they share celebrations and milestones along with me. I am humbled and that trust keeps me going. For example, how would you treasure a pregnancy announcement turned baby shower turned first birthday to second birthday and so on string of events from the same family? It’s a relationship I keep dearly.

It is a dream to turn your passion into a career.

As for charity events, I get to know how it helps the community in the most impactful way. Adding balloon art to these events for a great cause keeps me going.

What advice would you give to other women looking to pursue a creative passion as a business?

It is a dream to turn your passion into a career. While being creative makes the right brain happy, a good share of left brain works like numbers and logic should be present. Short and long-term planning, being accountable for targets and being aligned to core values and intentions are guidelines for a business like Calgary Party 50 to thrive. Creating backbone processes, maintaining standards and continuous improvement keeps the machine well oiled, giving more time to be creative.

Seeking wisdom of women leaders is a treasure chest of knowledge. Their years of learning experience will save you the costly rookie mistakes. Be humble to approach one, they would appreciate you asking.

Rest, it is an essential fuel for the mind and body.

Look back. You’ve got a handful of supporters from day 1. Cheer with them until year 100. Seriously.

What are some of your favourite things to do in Calgary?

I love a serenity walk at Prince’s Island Park at any season. Stephen Avenue is a great walk for me as well. The new Central Library is in the top of course.

Eating out and checking off the city’s best of “anything under the sun” are my go-to.

A night at Jack Singer Hall for the CPO or a show at the Jube especially the opera.  

Calgary Party 50’s most memorable Calgary balloon art

Calgary Party 50 is celebrating their 5th year in 2020. Happy birthday!

Enoch House covered in Maria Galura's balloons.
Enoch House covered in Maria Galura’s balloons.
Calgary Party 50 balloons
Calgary Party 50 balloons
Calgary Party 50 pink balloon installation
Maria’s balloons at The Bash
Balloons at the New Central Library
Calgary Party 50 at the Calgary Public Library
Calgary Party 50 balloons at Beakerhead
More balloons to celebrate Beakhead 2019
Maria Galura's balloon display at CHROMA.
Pretty in pink for the Southcentre CHROMA display.

Irene Seto is a Calgary lifestyle influencer supporting local from all angles.

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