The Business of Neon Art in Texomaland




Neon signs are especially valuable to small businesses. The heyday of neon signage occurred from the 1920s to the 1960s. Thousands of unique neon signs on U.S. highways and byways became iconic symbols after WWII, when the U.S. built its interstate system.

Small business owners find the high-profile nighttime visibility with customizable ubiquity of neon signs attractive. They use little energy while displaying the art of light, which becomes extremely attractive to people who run about at night. Neon signs are relatively inexpensive, last for years, and are easy to repair. Neon signs become landmarks.

Most of today’s neon signs are actually LED signs, which closely resemble the iconic glowing neon signs that Baby Boomers remember. We still call them neon signs. However, a few old-school neon sign artists are alive and well in Texomaland. Small business owners learn to use neon signs effectively. Neon signs can appear annoying depending on how big, how many signs per business, and if they flash on and off.

How Do Neon Signs Promote Businesses?

Neon signs can cement a symbol of what a business may represent in the minds that belong to the eyes that see them. Neon signs become familiar to locals. Businesses who are open only during the day can use neon signs to advertise all night long to people who many not realize their business exists. 

Businesses should be careful about putting up too many neon signs. Too many signs result in visual clutter, which makes it difficult for potential customers to understand the clarity of what the advertising message is. Advertising should be clear and to the point with little effort for the consumer to digest the message while changing the consumer’s buying behavior.

How Many Neon Artists Work in Texomaland?

I have to be careful when I call businesses for interviews. I always clarify that I write for laketexoma.com or  lakehub.com when I Ieave a message. I don’t want a business owner to mistake my inquiry to interview as a potential sales opportunity. That strategy can result in no returned phone calls. I understand when it comes to artists. I am a word, needle, and acrylic artist. I work all hours; I have no schedule; I do not return many phone calls.

Texomans might be surprised to know that there are neon/LED light artists in many Texoma towns, big and small. I called several of them, but none answered their phones. Some of our Texomaland neon/LED sign creators have an entire staff with a multitude of other products for sale, and some have small studios for contract work. Just leave them a message!

I left no messages for the neon artists in Texomaland for this article. Instead, I went to their websites, Facebook, and/or visited social media along with customer reviews. Texomaland’s neon/LED sign artist’s online media credibility was amazing, no matter how small or big their operations have become. It took some digging to find some of them. The smaller operations do not have a website.

Looking at the neon sign industry from an artist’s point of view, I felt compelled to venture out to view neon light artist’s creations around the globe. A few subjects I found in the global art gallery arena featuring neon lighting options shocked me. Fortunately, our Texoma neon artists focus much more on how they will realize their client’s advertising goals, and just serving up plain, time-tested, great customer service.

However, disputes can arise between an artist’s vision and their client’s expectations when it comes to buying art as a business investment. Intellectually, artists have a freer, more open mindset without a focus on profit, and business people are intent on how to make the most money for the least amount of overhead with their advertising budget.

Clarity with an artist is an important element to consider when working with an artist for a business investment. Establish that clarity with a “Work for Hire” contract. Professional artists of any genre are more than happy to embark on a “Work for Hire” contract. I do not work freelance without one. These contracts keep communication lines open and fair. Each party to the contract knows what their obligations require.

When Was Neon Lighting Born?

Would you believe that neon signage development began in 1675? Yep! Experiments with lit glass tubes began in the 17th century. Early inventors discovered they could extract neon gas, which is a rare and inert gas, from the atmosphere by fractional distillation.

In 1675, French astronomer Jean Picard observed a faint glow in a mercury barometer tube. When Picard shook the tube, it emitted a glow called barometric light. The cause of the light, which was static electricity, was a mystery. It appeared as a red, glowing, ghostly light in the tube. It would take over 200 years to solve the glowing mercury tubal mystery.

The first step in fractional distillation of neon from air is to change a container of air to a liquid. The process then warms up the liquid air. As the air warms, each element in the air changes from a liquid back to a gas at a different temperature. When electrically charged, harmless neon gas glows red. That discovery was the beginning of a culture of neon icons that starred for over 40 years on U.S. highways between 1920 to 1965, and in countless other countries.

Who Perfected Neon Lighting Science?

When scientists discovered the principles of electricity, the inventors moved to create and invent various forms of lighting. By 1855, there was the Geissler tube named after Heinrich Geissler, a German glassblower. Geissler placed neon gas under low pressure and applied electrical voltage. Geissler’s gas glowed!

When the late 19th century inventors from all fields of science created electrical generators, hundreds of global innovators experimented with applying electric power to tubes of neon gas and many other forms of lighting. We learn in history class that Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity, and that Thomas Edison invented electricity.

Franklin and Edison were the most famous experimenters and inventors of their times, but from two distinctly different eras. Behind those two independently skilled men were thousands of global engineers, scientists, and inventors contributing to their successes. The French engineer, Georges Claude, an engineer, chemist, and inventor, applied an electrical discharge to a sealed tube of neon gas in the estimated year of 1902.

From 1890 to 1930, a flurry of inventors overwhelmed the U.S. patent office. Georges Claude hailed from France. I do not have documentation on this, but Frenchman Picard’s work may have intrigued Claude. Who knows what an astronomer, an inventor, and a chemist have in common with over 200 years of separation between their endeavors?

The word neon comes from the Greek "neos," meaning "the new gas". Georges Claude applied an electrical discharge to a sealed tube of neon gas in 1902 to create a lamp. Claude sent a voltage through implanted electrodes in a sealed glass tube containing rarified gas, and discovered that the tube gave off a “glow discharge”. Rudimentary forms of that invention previously utilized this theory for a few years with the Geissler tube.

Claude took his neon tubal glowing process to a significantly broader dimension and established his company, Air Liquide. Air Liquide produced industrial quantities of neon because neon was a byproduct of the air liquification process. At that point, Claude realized the financial potential of neon lighting to the signage and marketing industries.

How Did Neon Technology Spread Globally?

Claude immediately established his next capitalist venture, Claude Neon. Claude first demonstrated his discoveries in neon technology in 1910 at the Paris Motor Show. Ah! But Claude was quickly moving forward with his newly discovered goldmine. In 1923, Claude brought neon signage to the United States.

Claude sold two signs to a Packard car dealership in Los Angeles. The signs were so bright that passersby would stop and stare. These novel glowing signs were so bright that people could see their glow in the daytime. By 1919, the Italian vermouth brand, Cinzano, and the entrance to the Palais Garnier sported neon lighting, signage, and marketing.

In its virgin era of neon sign popularity, neon signs were expensive. Businesses who wanted in on the neon advertising game had to weigh their pros and cons of investing in this new and extremely seductive form of advertising. But, neon signs spread like wildfire even though it cost more investment dollars than other advertising strategies of the day in the 1920s. Businesses viewed neon signs as maintaining competitive advantages over competitors.

In the beginning of neon sign innovations, the most prolific development in neon signs came with a concept called fluorescent tube coatings. These coatings provided more color options. Neon sign makers in the 1920s could create approximately 24 colors within their signs. Today, hundreds of color combinations exist for LED signs.

What Is Important Today About Neon Signage and Marketing in Texomaland?

Environmental and health concerns forced traditional neon signage out of business. But, traditional neon signs have not yet gone the way of the dinosaur, even though they are endangered. Traditional neon manufacturers made glass tubes with lead to soften them more easily with a gas flame. Health concerns because of the lead emissions led neon artists to the search for more environmentally safe soft glass options. But Wait! Traditional neon signs are still attractive to artists who work with the old ways.

Texomans, Do Not Fret If You Need an Antique Neon Sign Repaired

Today’s neon signs come in the form of incandescent and LED signs. This results from safety concerns, energy inefficiency, and expense. LED signs are today’s primary source of lighting in illuminated and glowing signage, which is the most efficient use of energy. Please don’t fret, Texomans. If you have an antique neon sign in need of repair, there are traditional neon experts in Texomaland who can fix your antique neon sign right up for that man cave or party barn.




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