Sometimes called sky dancers, fly guys, or even sock blowers, they are somehow both a modern and classic staple in advertising. Seen at car dealerships and car washes around the country, almost everyone can say they’ve seen a tube man or something similar at least once in their lives. But the origins of tube men, let alone their creator, is much less common. A simple google search would tell you that it was Peter Minshall, who made it for the 1996 summer Olympics. However, that is not entirely true, as there where actually 2 other major contributors to its creation. Doron Gazit and Arieh Leon Dranger (went by LouLou).
In an interview between Sam Dean and Doron Gazit in Dean’s article “Biography of an Inflatable Tube Guy”, he had revealed the originals of his art that would eventually inspire the tube man. “While attending industrial design school in Jerusalem in the ‘70s, Gazit had a side gig hawking balloon designs (animals, hats, etc.) on the streets… he introduced balloons to the Bedouins [a semi-nomadic Arabic tribe from the Negev desert of southern Israel], whose first encounters with the inflated objects illuminated for him their whimsical, spirited quality.” With this newfound motivation and inspired by his agriculturalist father, as well as the artists Christo and Andy Goldsworthy, he became an environmental artist. He used plastic from factories to create tubes that flowed with the wind. At the time, they were meant to be more-so of an artistic depiction of the wind. This can best be seen in his “Sculpting The Wind” series.
These tubes would be wrapped around different landscapes, from beaches, to rivers, to trees, to buildings and structures. Eventually his art was recognized and was invited to the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, California. Following this, he would also start his business Air Dimensional Design (AirDD). For the ’96 summer Olympics, Minshall wanted assistance with making a 2-legged tube man that would appear to be dancing in the air. Seeking help from AirDD, Gazit as well as LouLou were on the job.
Arieh Leon Dranger (LouLou)
As described by his daughter Eden Dranger in her article, “My Dad Helped Bring Inflatable Flailing Tube Men to Life” He was, “a Belgian aeronautical engineer, who was struggling to start his own business and keep our family afloat. Doron let LouLou have an office in AirDD’s building.” This was possible because of his wife, Leora Lifschitz, who worked for Gazit’s company. They had a close bond because of their shared Israeli heritage. Because of this connection, LouLou, using his engineering, Gazit using his experience with plastic art, and Minshall’s artistic flair, they were able to make the tube man. The same year as their debut, Gazit would go on to file for a patient on the 2-legged tube man under his and LouLou’s name. Which would be approved and put into effect in 2001. It is unknown if there is a specific reason why Minshall was excluded, according to Eden Dranger, “As far as I can tell, they each went their separate ways, and that was that.”
Thanks to them, tube men are now a widely accessible tool for everyone to use. Weather they are used for advertising or art, they are just fun to be around. Since 1996, many other companies have begun producing tube men for the public to use. But many of them use cheap material or outsource to other companies for producing. If you would like to have a high quality, hand stitched and printed U.S. made tube man, look no further than Feather Flag Nation (FFN). At the time of this blog’s writing, we have a deals available for our tube men. Our BOGO deal, which allows you to buy 2 20ft custom tube men with 1 of them at 50% off. We even have an option for 2-legged tube men! We also havee a wide variety of in-stock tube men that are pre-designed, and are ready to ship. You can explore our tube men or our many other products such as feather flags, vinyl banners, yard signs, and more on our website featherflagnation.com.
Air Dimensional Designs. “About Us: Airdd.” AirDD, 27 Oct. 2018, https://www.airdd.com/about-us.
Dean, Sam. “Biography of an Inflatable Tube Guy.” Medium.com, BMW 4 Series, 20 Oct. 2014, https://medium.com/re-form/biography-of-an-inflatable-tube-guy-c3e8d4f04a63. Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.
Dranger, Eden. “My Dad Helped Bring Inflatable Flailing Tube Men to Life.” Medium, Human Parts, 7 May 2020, https://humanparts.medium.com/the-untold-story-about-the-inflatable-flailing-tube-man-9484661c09b9.
Dranger, Eden. “Yes, My Dad Looked like a First Draft of Steve Carell.” My Dad Helped Bring Inflatable Flailing Tube Men to Life, Human Parts, 27 Apr. 2020, https://humanparts.medium.com/the-untold-story-about-the-inflatable-flailing-tube-man-9484661c09b9. Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.
Decor. “Doron Gazit Holding Red Plastic Tube While Making the Red Line Project.” The Last Word: Doron Gazit Is Flying High, 17 Jan. 2017, https://www.specialevents.com/decor/last-word-doron-gazit-flying-high. Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.
Gazit, Doron, and Arieh Leon Dranger. Apparatus and Method for Providing Inflated Undulating Figures. 13 Feb. 2001.
Gazit, Doron. “SCULPTING THE WIND INSTALLATION.” Doron Gazit, 30 July 2019, https://www.dorongazit.com/.
“Leora Lifschitz.” Edited by Sharon Rosner, geni_family_tree, 31 July 2019, https://www.geni.com/people/Leora-Lifschitz/637760.