Exhibitor Interview – Drew Ripley

My kids didn’t want to leave since they were glued to the robot battles. I met lots of new people, and a few of us ended up collaborating on a project together several months later.

Hello all, Cam here again from the Exhibitors Team at Maker Expo. Last week we launched our 2016 call for makers, exhibitors and activities and wanted to keep sharing stories from 2015’s exhibitors to give you a taste of the variety we include. Whatever idea you have, if you made it yourself, then it probably belongs at Maker Expo. Apply today!

Today we’ll be interviewing Drew of Drew Ripley Entertainment. You may have seen/heard about him in the last few weeks on CBC KW Radio (and news), and the Kitchener Post. Drew is one of Waterloo Region’s best known and most well-rounded makers. Whimsy follows him wherever he goes.

Cam: Why did you decide to participate in Maker Expo last year?

Drew: Being part of the larger maker community has helped me grow both as a business and as a person. I think I’m one of the very few balloon artists in this world that also welds. It’s the combining of skills while seeing and learning from others that allows the artist to grow.

Drew Ripley riding his microbike.

Drew Ripley riding his microbike. – Photo by Matt Davenport

Cam: What did you love about Maker Expo last year?

Drew: There was so much to do. It was incredible. My kids didn’t want to leave since they were glued to the robot battles. I met lots of new people, and a few of us that met for the first time ended up collaborating on a project together several months later.

Cam: Do you have any tips for this year’s exhibitors based on what you learned last year?

Drew: Be engaging and bring a ton of business cards. I’m a big believer in understanding why you do what you do. If you are passionate about your activity, you will successfully share it with others, and they will share back. That’s where new ideas are created.

Cam: Can you give us a hint about your application or ideas for this year?

Drew: I could, but that would spoil the surprise now wouldn’t it… Okay a few hints. I do intend to have a balloon sculpture on site and I’m creating outlines already. I’ve also assembled a team of makers for a more unusual project than normal. We’ll see if it’s ready in time, but I am really motivated as the maker community is very supportive.

Cam: Who do you think should attend Maker Expo and why?

Drew: Anyone who wants to learn. For families who want to show their kids what you can do with science and technology, this is a great place to explore. Artists that want to explore other mediums will win big here as well. Anyone who is interested in how far you can take a medium, like balloons, or robots, or even knitting, this is a great place too.

Really, this is an event for anyone that has a hint of curiosity.

Cam: Recently there was some pretty big news for you and Canadian Balloon twisters. Do you want to share it?

Drew: I would love to. I am part of Canada’s Twisted Five, Canada’s first internationally competitive balloon twisting team. The
team consists of five professional balloon artists from across Canada, building structures and scenes for competitions and conferences.

We just returned from the World Balloon Convention in New Orleans where we gained two bronze achievement awards, and 1 member placed 3rd in the 12 minute competition. We did very well for our first international competition. We believe we can do even better, so the team is pleased to announce exciting changes to our management structure with the appointment of myself as our new Director of Business. I will be responsible for all matters pertaining to Canada’s Twisted Five fundraising, competition logistics, and general team management.

Cam: Do you have anything else you want to share with Maker Expo fans?

Drew: Of course, but I am also interested in what you [the readers of this interview] do, so if you fire a note at me, please let me know what it is that you do. What excites you? What do you build? You can reach me at @DrewRipley on Twitter, Drew Ripley Entertainment on Facebook and through my website at www.drewripley.com.

Cam: Thanks Drew! We’re all looking forward to finding out your big plans for 2016 are! We can keep a secret, we promise :).

Also, here are two awesome videos of Drew at work!


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