When it comes to art forms, do you ever consider neon bending? You see neon signs everywhere you go – they light up each city with different colors and shapes – but do you know how they’re made? We were so thrilled to have the chance to chat with Andrew Hibbs of Endeavour Neon to tell us all about his shop. Working out of a warehouse in Vancouver, BC, Andrew creates unique pieces for homes and shops all across Canada. Read on to find out more about Andrew’s inspiration and his growth as an artist in this feature exclusively photographed by Janis Nicolay @Pineconecamp.
You grew up mastering the trade of bending neon from your father, who used to bend neon in your garage! How have you taken a vintage art form and made it your own?
I was very lucky to have such an amazing role model in my life growing up, my dad worked very hard to create amazing neon signs, and was one of the best neon benders out there. I started working with him when I was 13 pumping the gas into the units. From there I started to do neon repairs and practicing bending. I have been bending neon for over 10 years now and am still learning new little tricks everyday – it is something that takes years to get good at. I took over the neon company about a year and a half ago and re-branded it. Instead of such a commercial application, I was able to market to homeowners and entrepreneurs who wanted something unique for their homes and workplaces- more of art pieces than signs.
When it comes to neon bending, what is your biggest inspiration, and what trends and styles do you look forward to creating in the future?
I would have to think my biggest inspiration is art – seeing a person’s drawings or handwriting come to life is amazing. I think neon will just keep evolving using different applications. It will become more organic in style, and become more of an art piece than a sign.
What is the most important piece of advice you would give those aspiring artists and entrepreneurs out there who are looking to turn their art or trade into a business?
I think the biggest thing is don’t give up. With anything you don’t have success overnight. It’s a journey, and one that you have to feel out the market and figure out how to get your name out there. I am very lucky to have had the success I have had so far. When you have your own company, there’s no such thing as 9-5. It’s a 24 hour/7 days a week kind of thing. If you can do that and love what you do, work doesn’t feel like work. It’s fun and exciting and the most rewarding thing above anything else.
Aside from your father, who have you looked up to and who has inspired you to continue to pursue your trade and make your business what it is today?
My wife and family have really inspired and pushed me to become who I am today. My wife has been a huge help, answering emails and packaging signs up for me in-between running her own design business – she has really supported me through it all. My dad and brother run TDH Enterprises, a successful sign company, so it is nice to have them to answer any business questions or help me out if things get to busy.
Where do you see your business in a year? What aspects of your business do you hope to grow and what are you most excited about in the future?
I think a year from now, I will have hopefully made a name for myself here in Vancouver. I am really wanting to do some collaborations with some artists and maybe do a gallery showing. I hope that neon will just become known as art pieces, because that really is what neon bending is. I am excited to see neon move from just commercial, into people’s homes and offices in the future. It’s a way for people to express themselves, and have their ideas come to life.
As an artist and entrepreneur, we know it’s hard to stay focused, organized, and inspired! Are there certain elements of your day that you dedicate to brainstorming and creation? What does a typical day look like?
It is hard to stay focused at times, but being organized is key. A lot of my clients want to use their own handwriting for signs, so figuring out how I can make them into one continuous piece of neon takes time. My typical day is normally emails and quotes in the morning, on Mondays I will organize which jobs need to be completed and then set my schedule up for the week. Once I get to the shop I render the images on the computer and print out patterns. I then have to hand trace all the patterns out because we make all the neon backwards. I usually spend 2-3 days bending the neon and pumping it. The last two days are cutting, bending, and gluing the plastic boxes and putting the signs together. After they are all complete, I package them up for shipment and send them out. After I get home from work, I follow up on the emails, send invoices, and draw up mockups for the next day. Starting a new company is a lot of work and is a 24/7 job. My dad is the hardest worker I know, so growing up watching how hard he worked really pushes me to be able to do what I do.
Photography for Best Friends For Frosting by Janis Nicolay @Pineconecamp.