About this project
We hope the book will be a catalyst to preserve these iconic urban treasures that are disappearing as San Francisco experiences another economic gold rush.
Thanks to all of our backers who love San Francisco's vintage neon signs, and the stories they represent. You enabled us to reach our funding goal to print this book.
We have been actively working on this neon book project for over five years and now we need enough backers to pre-order the book to reach our funding goal by October 12, 2014. All of this funding will go directly to the printing and shipping costs. Any funding that exceeds the goal will be used to market the book and spread the word about preserving neon signs. We have already invested $4000 from our savings for several rounds of color correction and pre-press color tests with an excellent printer in China. We are self-publishing this book to maintain creative control and to ensure that the quality of the book is excellent.
Our first edition will be limited to 1000 copies. It will be a 7" x 8.5" hardcover book with 160 pages of 250+ color images of neon signs. The cover will be a tipped-in photo with foil stamping on the cover casing (classier and more durable than a wrap-around dust jacket).
The photographs in this book provide a tour of San Francisco’s surviving neon landscape and 10 lost iconic neon signs. This gives the book a feel of the “real” city with its many cultures and neighborhoods. Each spread is designed to match color palette and mood; each photograph is composed to evoke an emotional response to the individual signs. Sometimes we used a close up to show the viewer the rich detail of the tubes or painting behind the sign. At other times we captured a sign in a “film still” context shot that shows the sign’s emotional appeal in a lonely street or neighborhood. Neon is beautiful alchemy: a convergence of glass, gas, and a spark that produces a beckoning light that has enduring appeal.
This project is more than just a photography book, it also includes:
- San Francisco/photography essay by local award-winning travel writer Tom Downs
- Neon preservation essay by Eric Lynxwiler, neon sign expert and board member emeritus of the Museum of Neon Art (MONA)
- Endnotes section with local stories, oral history, and rich details on 45 neon signs by the photographers and essayists.
- Index by neighborhood with street addresses of each photograph to give readers a sense of which neighborhoods still have clusters of neon, and which neighborhoods have lost all but one or two surviving signs
- Neon condition that indicates which signs are illuminated nightly, which signs do not light up and need restoration, and which signs are lost icons
Historic Images of Lost Icons
This book also includes five historic black and white images and two color images of lost iconic neon signs from the 1970s that Al took when he first came to San Francisco as an art student.
Heartfelt gratitude and appreciation:
Tom Downs helped us tell this story with his keen eye and understanding. Eric Lynxwiler helped us over hurdles with his expertise and enthusiasm. Susan Cartsonis and Lynn Hirshfield were the best brainstormers. Susan Aberth, Emily Blitzer, Mark Carrodus, Ellen Cartsonis, Oscar Coreas, Heather David, John Davies, Sherry and Jeff Davis, Terry Doyle, John Fadeff, Stephanie Finch, Ken Garcia, Roxanne Gentile, Chris Harris, Tom and Kelley Hawks, Lori Hébert, Kirsten Hively, Thaddeus Homan, Stephanie Hunt, Beca Lafore, Laurie Lewis, Maureen Keefe, John Law, Kimber Patterson, Heidi and Bill Plumb, Chuck Prophet, Tom Rozum, Richard Sala, Susan Salter-Reynolds, Pansy Tom, JoAnn Ugolini, Don Williams, and Angela Zusman gave us support, encouragement, and advice. Douglas Towne of the Society for Commercial Archeology and Mike Buhler of San Francisco Heritage helped to spread the word. Jim Rizzo of Neon Works shared his knowledge of local signs and neon expertise. Special thanks to business owners and workers who generously shared the details and history of their neon signs.
And of course, many thanks to our family, friends, and backers for their early support of this book, for appreciating San Francisco’s historic neon landscape, and for showing great patience.
Risks and challenges
The challenge of this project has been to photograph these signs to show their inherent beauty, not just create a repository of neon signage. Visual obstructions such as awnings and security lights made it impossible to get a stunning photo, and so some beautiful and historic signs were left on the editing room floor.
The risk is that these signs are disappearing and need recognition to be preserved, as well as the small businesses they represent. The risk for us personally is that we have committed our savings, years of our time, and all the talent we could muster for this project. It has been a labor of love. If we don't meet our goal for the printing costs, this book may disappear just like the neon signs so many of us hope to preserve.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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