For this month’s Home Is Were The Art Is, I caught up with Andrew Hibbs - the man and the creative mind behind the hottest (and one of the only) neon-bending studios in the city, Endeavour Neon. Andrew’s work is revitalizing the old school craft, with his signs used as major installations in some of the city’s most notable locations: TELUS Gardens, Vogue Theatre and Kit and Ace to name a few.
This highly visible return to the glory of neon has inspired a new wave of design trends for residential clients as well; Andrew can take any quote, image or original idea and turn it into bright light custom art, and it is this level of unique customization that is driving the direction of not only his business, but the industry as a whole.
Endeavour recently teamed up with local artist Dana Mooney for a highly publicized and well-received collaboration. Creating a line of art that combines the expressive abstract style of Mooney doubled with playful quotes like “beach please” and “let’s pop bottles” in Andrew’s crafted neon, the collaboration solidified the expanding place neon has within current design. How did you get started in neon bending and what led you to where you are now?
I watched my dad bend neon out in the shop in the back of our house my whole life and was always very fascinated with it. I loved working with my hands and at the age of 13, my dad let me start pumping the neon, which is putting the gas in the tubes; at 16 my dad gave me the repair business and I started bending neon from there. Two years ago my dad passed on to me the neon side of the company and I took [the business] to being more artsy and personal rather than just commercial.
Do you have a Vancouver muse? Or a favourite place in or around the city that inspires you?
I love the outdoors so much and really get inspired by the beauty this city has to offer, I try to take every moment in, and love driving up into the mountains to hike and camp.
What is your favourite accessory (for home or personal)?
My favourite accessory would be my Apple watch – I never leave the house without it. It helps so much when I am bending neon and calls come in. I am able to multitask, and it definitely makes my life a lot easier.
When it comes to style/design, what is the one thing you covet the most?
I try to be unique and different. I love when people send me ideas that I haven't even thought of, or have never been done, things that really break the mould. Like neon chandeliers, or abstract art.
Do you have any predictions for the future of your industry?
I think that neon will just keep taking off and become more and more artistic, and less known as just commercial signs, and that is what I strive for. To bring a new life to neon.
How would you describe Vancouver’s artistic/creative community?
I would say that Vancouver's creativity and artistic style is very multicultural as that is what Vancouver truly is. The nice thing with neon art is that it can be diverse, from something so modern, to something so classic. It’s very versatile to fit everyone's ideas and style.
Who is your idol or mentor?
My mentor and my idol is my father. He is the hardest working person I know in his professional and personal life, I strive to be just as good in my neon career as he was.
Finish this sentence: my day is not complete without…
Something going wrong. As bending neon never goes smoothly, there’s always something that happens, but in the end seeing the artwork completed and lit up trumps any frustration that comes with this job.
What gets your creative juices flowing?
I really get inspired by ideas that people send me, and asking me if I am able to turn an idea into a piece of art!
What do you wish more people knew about artists?
I think art is really a way to express yourself, and in neon I am able to help people do just that, bringing an idea to life with my little twist on it.
Artistically, what is your favourite part of the city?
I really like Gastown: a little more edgy and you can see the history there. I love that something so old can also tie in with new, like the neon sign “ time is precious” installed there on the brick- looks amazing and it’s so fun to be a part of that!