Artist’s side hustle balloons into full-time gig

Kate Hicks’ work will be featured as part of the York City Boutique Week Fashion Show on Sept. 14. (This is the final of a three-part series previewing York City Boutique Week 2019)

Presented by: Our York Media
Written by: Anthony Machcinski
Kate Hicks of whimsy and WILD creates about six installations per week, ranging from pieces for weddings to corporate events. (Photo by Caleb Robertson/Our York Media)

Kate Hicks told her husband she’d be taking a leap of faith diving into the world of balloon design.

“If I don’t do it now,” she said, “it’s going to be a whole year until I can jump into it again.”

She needed to get ahead of wedding season and opened her business ⁠— whimsy and WILD ⁠— right away.

“I just went all in,” Kate says.

Her designs are elaborate balloon garlands and installations that sometimes require hundreds of balloons. The balloons are higher quality, too, meaning the showcases cans sometimes last for months.

“Some people view balloons as an outdated decoration,” Kate says. “But these are showstopping. They’re free-flowing and unique. You tie them together, and the art takes off on its own.”


Kate discovered the art while scrolling through Instagram and thought she could make them herself.

Her first installation debuted in November during a Thanksgiving event at a local hotel. Over the next few months, word of mouth spread about Kate’s designs, giving her enough faith to turn her side hustle into a full-time gig.

“It’s just given me the freedom to invest myself into this medium,” she says.

Kate Hicks installs a display above Foster's Flower Shop in York during August's First Friday. (Photo by Caleb Robertson/Our York Media)

Currently, Kate creates about six installations per week, with pieces for birthdays, graduations, weddings and corporate events among her most popular requests.

She’s heard some people say that the displays are “just balloons,” but she sees much more in them.

“Art is just subjective,” Kate says. “I can look at the same balloons and say, ‘That’s as beautiful as a Jackson Pollock painting.’”


Kate will show off some of her work during Boutique Week’s fashion show on Sept. 14.

“Fashion and art are definitely different mediums, but it’s color and design,” she says. “That’s what art is. I’m using latex, and they use fabric, but there’s a design aspect that goes into all of this.”

This year’s show kicks off at 7 p.m. at the Agricultural & Industrial Museum, 217 W. Princess St., York. The theme of this year’s event is “Our Perfect World,” with boutiques welcoming you into their world of unique, fashion-meets-art installations for attendees to shop and experience.

Get your tickets now

Cap off York City Boutique Week with the 8th annual Boutique Week Fashion Show. Click here to learn more about it or to buy tickets.

Our York Media is the official media sponsor of York City Boutique Week

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