Celebrating neon with photos, maps, and—with your help—an app to help residents, visitors, and fans of New York find great neon signs.
Check out the Updates tab for recent developments!
Hi, and welcome to Project Neon. My name is Kirsten, and I've spent the winter running all over New York documenting the city's neon signs. I've made a Flickr photo set (over 400 photos and counting), a Google map, and started a Project Neon blog on Tumblr where every week I post about visiting one of New York's neon-clad establishments to support their business. All along I've been careful to include the business names and addresses, because I want to encourage everyone else to get out, visit the signs in person, and support these businesses, too.
To make that happen, I'm working on a digital guidebook — a free iPhone app that will map the location of about 100 of New York's best neon signs all over the city with photos, descriptions, and location, so residents, visitors, and New York fans can see what a spectacular collection of neon signage New York has. The glow of neon is so amazing — even at a distance it's such a distinctive kind of light: a certain kind of brightness, certain hyper-saturated colors. Up close it's even more incredible. Sometimes lightly flickering or buzzing a bit, always with that enticing glow.
There are a lot of other places that document the signs that have disappeared, but Project Neon is here to celebrate the great signs we have, whether new or old. I refuse to believe neon signs are a dying species. I think that if I we can just get the word out, more and more people would appreciate and support neon signs. And that's where I need your help.
I have been hard at work taking hundreds of photos and narrowing down a list of 100 of the best signs in the city. I've also been working on designing a beautiful, free, neon map app for iPhones that will tell you when you're just around the corner from a killer sign. You'll also be able to search for signs and rate them. And since Project Neon is here to celebrate signs we can all go see, the database of signs will be updated periodically. Here's a mockup of what I think the app will look like (you'll also be able to turn your phone sideways to see the photos all big & beautiful):
What's all this money for, anyway? So I've got the design, the photos, and the database, but my programming skills are pretty rusty. I need the help of some more experienced app programmers to help me whip this guidebook into shape and make it top-notch. Unfortunately expert help does not come cheap. In addition, Apple has fees for distributing apps (yes, even free ones!) Kickstarter takes a piece, Amazon Payments (who process the donations) takes a chunk, and the taxman gets his share, too. But with your help, we'll meet the goal, I'll be able to take care of all that, and we'll all have a fantastic digital guidebook to New York City's neon.
What's up with the rewards? I think the rewards are as important as the app project — because I want to encourage neon appreciation, I am pleased to offer prints, posters, and other rewards. I've gathered a LOT of photos of neon signs over the last few months, and I'd like to share them with you. If there's a reward you'd like but don't see, or have a question about a particular reward, please let me know! You can see the photos available for each reward in the Kickstarter collection in my Flickr photostream (though some photos have been cropped to fit the format). Here's what they all look like on my livingroom wall:
Why should I contribute toward a free app? Unfortunately, most apps cost more money to make & distribute than they rake in. Because my goal is to get as many people involved and interested, I decided raising the money first through Kickstarter and then making the app free would be the best way to spread the word.
But I don't even have an iPhone! You don't need an iPhone to be a part of Project Neon. As I said above, if we can go above and beyond the goal, I will work on getting the information into other formats, and I hope people will want to participate to get the cool rewards as much as to help fund the app. And the more neon support we can rally, the more we'll all benefit from the continued presence of remarkable neon signs.
How else can I help Project Neon? Besides donating, I would be so pleased if you could help spread the word. Email three people you think might be interested, write about Project Neon, tell everyone you meet. The more people know about Project Neon, the happier I'll be, and if they all sign up to donate, well, that would be just swell.
What else is Project Neon up to? I'm working on putting together a show for the fall at the inimitable City Reliquary in Brooklyn. By making a contribution at any level, you'll be able to stay in touch with future project updates like that.
Deadline Those of you who know me may recognize the deadline I've picked. Yup, it's my birthday. So if you were thinking of getting me a birthday present, now you know exactly what to get!
Thanks for taking the time to look at Project Neon. If you have any other questions, please post a comment or send me a message with the link in my bio at right.
PS: To thank you for reading this far, check out these FREE iPhone wallpapers of New York neon signs! I may add more later, so check back on the Updates tab above (donors will receive email notifications of updates).
Shipping costs are included in the funding level, but if you are located outside the US, I would greatly appreciate it if you would add an additional $5 to cover the higher shipping costs.
When I send out the survey at the end of the project to gather mailing addresses, I'll also ask you to choose which photo print you want and/or which photo you want on your membership card.
I will contact people who pledged for limited edition prints in the order the pledges were processed, and I will do my best to keep you updated about which prints are still available.
All images are printed on with Epson UltraChrome Hi-Gloss 2 pigment ink on an Epson Stylus Photo R1900. The photos are printed on Epson XXX, and the posters are printed on Epson Ultra Premium Matte paper. I did a lot of research, and found that these inks & papers performed better than others, including fine arts papers (I was surprised by that). If you'd like more information about archival digital printing and the care of digital prints, visit wilhelm-research.com.
The limited edition prints are set, but I will consider adding a couple of other photo options to the smaller print runs. If you'd like to suggest a print, please contact me with the link in my bio at the lower right.
I have tried to keep the membership levels relatively simple, but if you have a good idea, please let me know with the link in my bio at the lower right and I'll consider it.
The most important thing to know is that if we don't make our goal, no one gets charged, I don't get any money, you don't get any pledge rewards, and the project won't happen. It's all or nothing, folks, so please participate!
If you're new to Kickstarter, there are some answers to basic questions about how it works to help crowd-funded creative projects raise money here.
Now you're talking! This is totally going to happen. If we go a bit over the goal, I'll look into adding some additional features into the app. If we blow the top off of the goal, first I will do a scampering dance and yell really loudly. After I calm down, I will start looking into porting this project onto other platforms (Android, Blackberry, etc.) and see if I can't figure out a good printed format (a booklet or map) for those who eschew magic phones for one reason or another.
If we raise somewhere in the neighborhood of a kajillion dollars, I will start working on my dream project, which is bringing Project Neon to other neon-rich cities like Portland, Chicago, Tokyo, and Paris. Wouldn't that be awesome?