Ed Balloon: A Multidisciplinary Artist Who Shys Away From Boxes & Labels

Spearheading cultural representation and identity, unapologetically, throughout music and digital art.


Ed Balloon: A Multidisciplinary Artist Who Shys Away From Boxes & Labels

Spearheading cultural representation and identity, unapologetically, throughout music and digital art.

“Balloons can float, float over bullshit, over barriers. I thought, ‘I can too.’”

A powerful sentiment by multidisciplinary artist, Ed Balloon, when Hypemoon asked him about the identity he has chosen to embrace and now presents in Web3.

As both a musician and artist in Web3, Balloon pushes his artistic medium beyond the common narrative — exploring what it means to exist in the space through the intersection of technology, pop culture, and social activism.

In his drive to help uplift others, Balloon leverages his “unapologetic self” to put the many adversities of being a community leader front-and-center. His work has been featured on industry leading platforms, including, but not limited to TimePieces, SuperRare, Catalog, and more.

Balloon’s work certainly presents the question of how a multidisciplinary artist can go “beyond today’s narrative,” that requires a sensitive, tasteful navigation around conversations of identity, marginalization, and technology.

Floating Over Barriers

Balloon’s identity was born just after he finished college in 2013, embracing the idea of being able to “float over the noise.”

“I have always loved balloons, in a time of his life when he was doubting himself, and people telling him he can’t be a musician or artist. Balloons can float, float over bullshit, over barriers. I thought, “I can too,” he told Hypemoon.

In 2014, he felt the stark realities the music industry presented to artists and producers like him who wanted to go outside the traditional confines of creativity and curation.

“You had to sound similar to somebody or be an Usher, Jay-z or Rihanna,” he emphasized. Noting the challenges of having a “different” music style and having people see eye-to-eye, Balloon says it led to meeting his current band mate, Dave Chapman. In 2019, both Chapman and Balloon came together to launch the Boston-native band, Ed Balloon, later moving to Los Angeles.

And then COVID-19 hit a year later, shaking the floor beneath them and cancelling their then scheduled March 2020 tour.

“I thought finally I could quit my job at an office in Beverly hills and the band was stoked. People said it was going to be fine. It wouldn’t be so bad. Then we got the call saying the tour was canceled.”

Stop Motion Claymation

With the tour cancelled and the band looking for something to keep them going, Balloon turned to screenwriting, in the form of stop motion claymation.

Stop motion claymation is the art of creating an image by manipulating physical models using a camera. It’s an old-fashioned technique, but it’s still popular today because it can be used to create some truly adorable, hilarious and intriguing films and visuals.

He told Hypemoon that he remembered watching Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs,” pointing out the creative styles behind the characters that he says he fell in love with. After reaching out to some colleagues in the industry, he decided that he wanted the puppet to resemble him.

“People told me not to do it. It’s not worth it. It’s too much money. But I really loved the medium,” he explained. With the pandemic worsening and a time in history where the BIPOC community was experiencing horror and tragedy — with the cases of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor — Balloon felt that this style of screenwriting was the most impactful way to express his messaging.

“I thought it would be cool to use the puppet to talk about these problems and things happening in the world and to use the puppet to express that message — the problems and injustices in the world and how it affects the black community.”

Web3 has become a powerful medium and tool for artists to use their talent to portray different forms of activism and representation in the digital landscape, whether through raising awareness on marginalized groups of people or speaking out against social injustices.

Following the debut of his first episode using his newly created puppet character, the community instantly responded with positivity.

“Now the puppet that looks and talks like me began spearheading the conversation around these issues and topics, and that changed everything for me.”

Getting Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

One of the many facets of an industry that touts community and open-mindedness, is the ability for individuals to be able to have those uncomfortable conversations that often strike a nerve. As an artist/founder, it’s important to have the right people in your inner circle who can tastefully represent the work and ideas that convey such powerful messaging.

It also means investing more time in local grassroots movements, opening the doors to the local community who are interested in voicing their own opinions — without fear of marginalization.

For Balloon, Beeple’s 2021 landmark $69 million USD sale at Christie’s was enough to capture his attention and unlock his curiosity on NFT functionality.

Tapping into Twitter Spaces, he came across a few Spaces where he actively saw a refusal to talk about marginalized groups in the space, including the lack of diversity across founding teams. Unfortunately, there’s a strong pattern of only seeing founders through their PFPs, rather than the diversity across the team.

“People would avoid these conversations, I remember having to fight that and feeling uncomfortable in spaces,” he shared with Hypemoon. He referenced Brittany Pierre, a photographer and artist, along with others in the community, who were also struggling with their own battles during this period. Due to what they were also experiencing, they ended up creating their own version of a Spaces, which they described as a “safe space” where anyone participating could express their thoughts and opinions about what was happening within the BIPOC community.

Mid 2021, both Balloon and Pierre held the first BIPOC Space, which they say brought a great turnout.

The community cried, laughed, and participated in the important conversations, many expressed appreciation and finally feeling heard in the twitter space world.

According to Balloon, that Space changed everything for him. After its first debut, he continued to host every week, providing as much information and guidance to others in Web3 who resonated with his work and the initiative behind the BIPOC Spaces.

What Happens When a Collection Doesn’t Immediately Mint Out?

Due to some of the industry’s most successful NFT projects and their “instant mint-outs,” unfortunately, the NFT community has grasped onto the fallacy that the legitimacy of a project is dependent upon the timing and immediacy by which a collection sells or mints out.

The reality, as we’ve seen, especially with projects that are more IP-facing, is that a mint’s sell-out has an indirect relationship to the overall project’s success and longevity — in most cases.

As Balloon continued to play around with his newly created puppet, he remembered Ed-Run co-founder, Patrick Wagner and his words of encouragement that Balloon should mint some of his work alongside the puppet.

The first collection — “guys take too long to make f’ing decisions man” — was a huge success, as the community’s feedback and support was unmatched. Finally, the entire NFT community was now properly introduced to Balloon and his dancing, singing puppet.

He told Hypemoon that he never expected for the community to react the way it did. Little did he know that his first drop would become the first of many that would follow in the overall Ed Balloon saga.

“I thought, okay I think it’s time to do a bigger collection and expand the community,” he added. Given a bear market was expected to follow, Balloon’s next focus was on expanding his team and the roll-out of his next project — Ed Run.

Unfortunately, due to the same-day release of BAYC’s “Otherside,” the Ed Run NFT collection did not sell out.

“I remember revealing the project concept and everyone saying that it will do great, that it will sell out. But the launch, “(unplanned) ended up being the same day as the Otherside BAYC drop.”

He also revealed that the project had previously built up significant hype and attention, which made its sudden silence on the drop date, very disappointing.

“It barely reached the numbers we were expecting. As a black founder, I remember feeling disappointed. The pressure of Ed you’re doing everything right, marketing, and for the result to be what it was, was horrible. Then after putting on a fake smile, and saying everything is alright, but feeling hurt and sad. Not having anyone else to reach out for advice or to resonate with and see what to do, and come to the term that there isn’t liquidity for your project. I had a team to pay for, contracts in place and metrics to move forward, it was a difficult time for me mentally.”

Ahead of the drop date, Balloon said that 50% of the primary sales from the collection were allocated to supporting the production of the short film, while the other 50% were going to go to buying art from the BIPOC community.

Despite the unexpected outcome, he felt this also marked a change in his winds of finally wanting to put himself out in the public eye.

“I needed to stop being afraid of who I am and I wanted to purposely showcase me, Ed, my music, and my body.”

Joining forces with his photographer, Dylan Vice, Balloon worked on putting together a routine that perfectly captured his music through choreographed dance.

“On Juneteenth, the digital diaspora, it was something empowering to express myself and being able to really be me — this is Ed, there is no alter ego, and finding comfort and confidence was something really dope to feel on Juneteenth.”

During last year’s NFT.NYC, Digital Diaspora was put on as an event, powered by Drift.

This, according to Balloon, marked a turning point for him, as it was an opportunity to showcase himself and his passion for music. He did a 1:1 piece that sold for 9 ETH ($15,000USD). It also marked the first time people could see him as a performer, rather than just “Ed, the puppet.”

“Don’t box me in, I am all the things”

Throughout his journey, the artist has worked to avoid both he and his work being put into a “box,” which he described as difficult.

“I’ve always been running from having to deal with those things, and this closed mentality. You have this EdB Puppet running from these things that are stopping you from being the best you and running towards that.” –

He told Hypemoon that the outcome of the Ed Run collection didn’t deter him from his passion, but rather, it helped provide him with more opportunities to grow personally and professionally.

“It helped me budget better and get into a more entrepreneurial mindset,” he said, adding that “I still had a strong support from the community and my team.”

Since his pivot away from the NFT collection, Balloon has been working on a short film, which is currently in production. He says he also moved forward in his initial promise of using 50% of Ed Run’s primary sales to buy a variety of art pieces from the BIPOC community.

“Yeah, sometimes you don’t get it right the first time, but that doesn’t make the project a failure. Believe in your own work – or better yet, believe in yourself enough to keep going even if nobody else does.”

“We are all a movement”

When it came to the digital diaspora, Balloon confessed that everyone had expected for him to do a puppet-oriented piece, but he decided that he wanted to do a music video tailored around him.

“Don’t dismiss us as artists and don’t dismiss me. I have stories and visions and things I want to do. I am all about culture. Most 1/1 artists are about the culture, and doing things to not just make ETH, but because we know this is a renaissance, and we are creating a movement through it,” he emphasized.

He also said that he wants everyone to see what he’s all about. “I wanted people to see me perform, see the video, and see it happen live, but also see [this artist's] hard work through it all.”

Balloon, who went from a few streams on Spotify to a jaw-dropping 10 ETH sale ( , described this transition as an “otherworldly feeling,” as his net worth continued to grow without him having to dilute himself as an artist.

Being Unapologetically You

Whether it’s through Ed Run or Balloon himself, the musician emphasized the depths in which his messaging extends.

“I think it’s more about being an unapologetic black man,” he told Hypemoon. “The beauty of web3 is being who you are. I wanted to continue having my own voice and diverse perspective in hopes of making others feel comfortable to do so as well.”

I felt that everyone was always followed a formula, but this was me saying fuck the formula, and be able to dig deep and be as creative as I want to, and be able to be myself and not wonder if it’s weird.”

“I am pushing and trying to be this artist who is also here to help other artists and people who look like me find success and flourish too.” “This is the place not just for me, but for everyone.”

Perhaps the most impactful potential for NFTs is the opportunity to create more fair access to wealth. People who haven’t had the opportunities to invest or sell their art in traditional spaces now have access. These opportunities could help shift how we think about wealth creation and artistic expression, making them key tools for artists and collectors and investors alike.

“A win for me is also a win for helping someone else. I want to make sure I am putting on my people, people of color, and being able to amplify those voices through my platform,” he said.

As Miami’s Art Basel approaches, Balloon is continuing to push his music in the NFT space front-and-center. “There is every reason for music NFTs to be out there. It’s art as well.”

Balloon says he expects to share more details behind the short film in early winter.

Without a stronger community, consisting of diverse leaders and artists, Web3 will continue to stagnate in its nascent stages. It is up to the pioneers of this space to use their power to help reshape the narrative that only serves to drive advancements in diversity and equality.

In other NFT news, Meet Amber Vittoria, a freelance visionary and painter.

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