I’d like to introduce my first Artist of the Month: Neon Workshops. They are a great team of artists and designers manufacturing neon lighting for the creative industries, and also teaching the only public neon workshops in the UK.
Over the next two weeks I’ll be posting about this talented team, sharing insight into their art and what got them involved in neon.
A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to visit their studio in Wakefield, where I gained a wonderful insight into how neon began, how it grew commercially strong in the 1960’s, how Leeds was the epicentre for making neon lighting outside of London, and finally how neon is making it’s long overdue comeback.
Richard Wheater is the artist behind Neon Workshops and speaking to him, I got to see his passion for this medium and how he’s dedicated to teaching his skills not only here in the UK, but globally too. His love of neon started back at university, and where he found inspiration from the high rise glass buildings that were going up around him, from then on he never looked back.
Today Richard, along with a few local artists and designers, are helping to bring the art of neon back into the mainstream, and rid it of it’s stereotype of signs in seedy shops and 1980’s barbershops. Neon is more than light, it’s art, it’s sculpture, it’s anything you want it to be…
Many of these pieces were produced for exhibitions, with the focus of creating a talking point around each subject and propelling neon a little further into the mainstream.
For many people including myself, won’t realise that neon light, if cared for properly can last for years, meaning it’s economically friendly (and you could say environmentally friendly too!) But the rise of LED’s is making neon vulnerable as LED is cheaper and easier to mass produce, meaning lots of manufacturers won’t invest and produce neon signs and lights.
That isn’t going to stop Richard and his team though, this is just the beginning. Their neon workshop courses are getting ever more popular, with a successful Kickstarter campaign taking them to New York where they’ll run workshops alongside Lite Bright Neon and spreading the word that neon is here to stay.
In Neon Workshops Part 2 I’ll be sharing more work from Richard Wheater and photos from my visit to their studios.