Largo company brings back the dying art of neon

The Golden Age of Neon may have been in the '40's and '50s, but like all art forms, it is making a creative comeback.

"Neon took a nosedive about 10 years ago, so to have it come back is pretty cool," stated Eric Roeske, owner of Adept Neon.

Housed in a modest 1200-square foot shop in Largo, you'll find Eric Roeske and his apprentice Kira Oglesby keeping neon lit.

"We did the restoration on Ferg’s down in St. Pete...We have Parks and Rec., No Vacancy, DTSP, Ceviche," explained Roeske.

Adept Neon is one of only three neon shops in the Bay Area.

It has a neon plant and pumping system to provide the different colors for its tube benders to create almost anything from business logos, letters and signs to outright artistic recreations from their customer's imagination. Each sign is handmade.

"A lot of people come in here and have no clue an actual person is bending every little bend in every work, they think a machine makes it, or it comes from China," said Roeske.

READ Fun-Land Drive-In neon sign rescued for use in new immersive art experience

The current challenge facing this art form is the switch over to LED lighting for business signs.  

"It's a dying art. It's an intangible culture asset in some states and in others it's called the dying arts", expressed Roeske.

That’s where Kira Oglesby comes in.

"We're keeping it alive. Kira is one of the younger people doing it," said Roeske.

READ Signs of the times: Photographer’s ‘Vintage Neon Project’ documents bygone era

"The main thing about neon is that you can make something like that," Oglesby excitedly stated while pointing to an original piece of neon art.

Oglesby originally went to school to learn about pottery.

"I just really caught the bug for ceramics and went to school up in New York State," Oglesby shared. "They had a neon shop, and I took a class... and that settled it for me, I fell in love and said this is it. Pottery is nothing compared to neon."

Once she realized her love for neon, she contacted Roeske and they've been bending ever since.

"A lot of the work we do is part lesson for me. We call it the bend by bend," explained Oglesby.

That is important to the very existence of the art form.

"It's more than just keeping it alive; I want it to stay around, but I want people to know more about it," expressed, Oglesby.

Click here to learn more about Adept Neon and about how to bend your own light work.