From pilot to painter: Kevin Short creates this year’s Balloon Fiesta poster

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The poster at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a fan-favorite collectible for its new design every year.

This year, the poster artist is someone who knows a thing or two about ballooning and Balloon Fiesta.

“We were not the first family around the pioneers of ballooning in New Mexico, Sid Cutter and Bob Ruppenthal. We met them when we moved to New Mexico in the mid-70s. By 1976, we started flying,” Kevin A. Short said.

At age 16, Short became one of the youngest pilots to fly in Balloon Fiesta.

“I got my [pilot’s] license the same time I got my driver’s license,” Short said.

He also knows a thing or two about art.

“I’ve exhibited in over 35 museums around the world,” Short told KOB 4.

Balloons, though, have a special place in his art.

“My art career started in a balloon repair shop,” Short said.

For him, getting the call to design this year’s Balloon Fiesta poster was a big deal.

“They said, ‘Would you consider painting the Balloon Fiesta poster?’ For any artist and balloon pilot, that is a holy grail for flying,” Short said.

You’ll have to see the result for yourself. We can tell you the design is a stunning image of a classic Balloon Fiesta scene with the Rio Grande and the Sandia Mountains filling the landscape.

“I try to remind myself of the various emotions or respond to emotions that exist in a time and a place. That is what most of my work is about. [It’s about] a time and a place and ballooning is full of astounding emotional moments,” Short said.

Moments that influence the poster design.

“One of the most magical images I experienced flying was flying over the valley over the [Rio Grande] river. Seeing that sparkling shine of the sunlight, as it not only comes over the Sandias, but it’s dancing all over the water,” Short described.

Short is happy to have the Holy Grail of balloon art under his belt.

“The Fiesta is just wonderful to be a part of and I can’t believe I’m doing it again,” Short said.