How a street artist creates 3D balloons on flat walls that seem to pop out at you


Daniel Fahlström is a Swedish artist who goes by the name Huge. He makes hyper-realistic mylar balloon art that will trick your eye into thinking you can reach out and grab them. We spoke with Fahlström about his work and how he is able to make the balloons in his murals look so real. You can see more of his work on his Instagram and YouTube pages. Videos courtesy Huge, Waller Gallery and FlyMotion Fastighet. Following is a transcript of the video.

Huge: I'm based in Stockholm, Sweden. And I've been painting graffiti since '87. Nowadays I paint photorealistic mylar balloons style. I was having an exhibition in Stockholm and I came up with the idea, why don't I change the traditional graffiti letters into balloons.


I take real balloons to the place where the wall is. And I put them up and take some photos of them. I use photos as a reference. So the reflections you see in the balloons is mostly at the area where the wall is in the background. When I take the pictures, it's a reflection of me there, so there's no hiding.

When I do walls I only use spray cans. I can paint some details with my fingers and stuff like that. And when I do smaller canvases and stuff like that, I sometimes use air brushes. The technique comes from a lot of practice I guess. I don't think about it that much, I just paint. Well, I think you have to focus on where you put the details in the paintings. You can trick your eye if you paint say the background more blurry, they stick out more and pop up. The wrinkles are extremely important to paint. I'm trying to do a lot of sculptures. So that includes the balloon style. So I try to make sculptures as balloons also.

I really like the photorealistic style. I try to manage to make them as photorealistic as possible. I'm pretty fast when I work, so I can do a mural say about, four times five meters in maybe in two days. Something like that. Say eight hour days. Time flies when you're painting. Like you're in a bubble or something.

I have my own firm where I do custom paint. Like painting motorcycles and helmets and tracks and stuff like that. So there's where I get most of my income. It's mostly commission work nowadays. I don't have any murals painted aboard yet, as one request from New York. And a lot from south of the states like Texas and Louisiana. Also Canada and Honduras and Australia.


Well, I've seen a lot of reactions from people and the funniest one was when this old lady that wasn't wearing her glasses she was trying to go up and touch the balloons. And a lot of people do that. They go by and, "Well, I have to check that out." That's good if they think that's real balloons. That's my mission, to make them believe that.