“Godfather of Neon” Chris Bracey is the artist and collector behind London’s God’s Own Junkyard, the world’s largest collection of neon signs, art work, light sculptures, and other reworked, salvaged props. Bracey’s signs and props have appeared in many Hollywood films such as “Blade Runner,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Mona Lisa,” and “Eyes Wide Shut,” to name a very few. After filming’s done on a movie, the signs and props get tossed out, but 25 years ago, Bracey decided to start collecting and storing many of his more iconic creations. In this short film, Bracey explains that his experience of neon is like visual cocaine, an experience of visual addiction. He also claims that he was the first person to create the iconic and oft-used “Girls Girls Girls” sign seen at adult establishments, both in real life and in films.
After he began collecting his discarded film commissions, Bracey says he decided that he should name the collection. “I had this yard with all the stuff in it, and I’ve got loads of sheds with neon signs in, piled up. And I thought, what am I going to call it? And then I read about this book that was about an architect in the 60s who didn’t like urban America because of all the movie signs, petrol stations, gambling casinos, diners on Route 66, and big signs all over the landscape. He said ‘they’re turning God’s own country into God’s own junkyard!’ And I thought, yeah, that’s what I’ve got here. I’ve got all this stuff from God’s own junkyard which is very much like America, with all these signs. I love this stuff so much, I thought if God had a junkyard it would be full up with all this stuff, these neon signs, because I think God would really like all this stuff. It’s really magical to me.” (via unknown editors)
Designer Monique Goossens transforms the hair left behind on the garbage, shower drain and/or combs into a work of typography.
Monique Goossens’ work includes elements of both design and organic art. The concept is disturbing yet brilliant, and design has never seen something quite like this before. Although her idea challenges established conceptions of function [and aesthetics], her work doesn’t stray away from the bizarre and amusing.
“The hair letters consist of hundreds of hairs, and give the impression of being fine pen drawings. The basic shape of the letters is created by forming the hairs into a legible character, during which process I follow the natural characteristics of the hairs: curly, rounded corners, springiness. To a great extent, it is the dynamic of the hairs which determines the shape of the letters. The ends of the hairs create an organized chaos, an energetic play of lines which forms a haze around the letter’s basic shape.”
The Amsterdam based artist studied Interior Design and Styling at Academie Artemis. Shortly after, she became interested in the relationship between photography and design, so she continued her studies at the Design Academy in Eindhoven.
Text art seems to be popping up everywhere these days in a multitude of diverse forms, although the use of text in art is inarguably not a new movement. However, when it comes to using words in visual art, several artists of different ages and sub-genres have found ways to burn their words into our brains. The pieces featured here have real stay-power. Whether the artist employs a blinking pattern between words, such as Bruce Nauman does, or draws rawly from their cultural background and related personal experience, such as Glenn Ligon and Patrick Martinez, these works deliver a very contemporary message. With simple language, and a sometimes poetic-sometimes brash- sense of honesty, these neon text-based works transcend many other works of text based art made today. Artists featured here include: Bruce Nauman, Patrick Martinez, Tracey Emin, Jill Magid, Glenn Ligon, Robert Montgomery and Jung Lee. The works speak for themselves- yet we encourage you to read between the lines.
Lisa Rienermann‘s Type the Sky series is reminiscent of the big city tourist’s point of view. The tops of metropolitan buildings squeeze in the sky to form a unique alphabet. Rienermann uses the negative space, the small patches of cloudy sky, between roofs to as the structure of a fun typography. The font has been understandably popular. The series received an award from the Type Directors Club New York. It was also used by Mercedes and Renault for respective advertising campaigns.
It’s a tricky thing, viewing the work of artist Ben Skinner—you catch yourself reading, absorbing, appreciating and simultaneously fighting the urge to snap a photo and immediately re-appropriate his multimedia text works to your own blog/Instagram/Twitter. Using an intriguing selection of materials (ranging from gold foil to neon to sprinkles), Skinner elegantly spells out heartbreaking phrases ripped from the Zeitgeist, with a little extra flair. The witty, multicolored multimedia works tow the line between design and art, with a little extra emphasis on drawing, craft and the making of an actual object. Many of his works could easily find a life as a piece of printed design, but it’s Skinner’s willingness to experiment with materials that allows his flat, graphic works to go one step further into the realm of something more substantial.
A stunning collision of tactile, CMYK color, the work of London’s Evelin Kasikov lies squarely between object and image—a seamless combination of craft and design. After spending a decade working in advertising, Kasikov decided to expand her scope as a graphic designer by incorporating embroidery techniques into her work. Her approach to the craft is analytical, using her well-developed typographic skill set, grid systems, design techniques to challenge the preconceptions of embroidery as a system of making. Kasikov’s basic process is to map out the composition for each project, then she hand-stitches each image with a cyan-magenta-yellow-kohl breakdown, similar to offset printing processes. The resulting work is graphically rich, and brings an element of handwork back into the graphic design process—something that adds a layer of complexity and humanity to work that would otherwise be purely computer-generated.
Ryan Everson’s installations speak to longing and loss and the desire for movement and displacement. There is something hopeful and comic about some of his work, accompanied by a tinge of despair as it addresses boundaries of what is and what could be. His work feels perpetually on the cusp of some sort of change or movement, of travel to another place, whether that be physical, emotional, or spiritual. Everson’s work embodies something of memory, though we can’t say of what, but that it definitely exudes a nostalgia for absent events or places. “My most recent work comes from abstract emotional states stirred up from specific self-reflective moments. These moment arise as I become more aware of myself in the present and my inability to control the future.”
You may have already seen Luke Lucas’ typography work, but weren’t aware of it; he’s created designs for companies like Target, Nestlé, The New York Times, and Barnes & Noble. He’s also done work for exhibitions and creates his own fonts. Some of the more humorous and elaborate text designs are reminiscent of Wayne White’s word paintings. Of his work, Lucas writes, “I love that the same word, passage or even letter can be treated in bunch of different ways and embody entirely different meanings… That and through subtleties like a slight shift in line weight, the elongation of a tail or the arc you use, a letter can go from contemporary to traditional or happy to sad in a single stroke…”