INTERVIEW - Encounter with Alexis Dandreis


There is always a soul behind the object, which I believe gives it all its charm when it lights up and illuminates.

Alexis Dandreis is a passionate neon artist who has been working in his Parisian studio for three years now. Winner of the Banque Populaire Foundation, he works with neon by creating artworks through personal projects or in collaboration with artists, but also offers initiation classes. We asked him five questions in order to understand his background.

Why neon?
I have always had a foot in the art world. After my studies at the Arts Décoratifs in Strasbourg in 2014, I went on to a CAP Carpentry in Paris. Once I finished this training, I was in a logic of discovery where I wanted to learn many things. It was during a trip to Canada in Montreal in 2016, where I saw neon lights following the shape of a building, that I was fascinated by this light and that I started to question myself about this medium. I watched videos on YouTube to understand how neon works and then I decided to learn and train.

**How did you learn to master this medium?** After my trip to Canada, I decided to take a glassblower CAP (vocational training certificate) with the option of illuminated signs at the Lycée Dorian in Paris. It is the only high school in France that offers this education and trains to the profession of neonist. It is a master-student profession that is learned in a workshop, where the student observes and applies the techniques alongside a professional. The mastery of neon is above all a craft, it is a know-how and a technique with important historical roots in France. It is through this training that I realized that I liked neon and I decided to make it my profession.

What is the most technical part when creating a neon?
The bending of the glass, giving the shape to the glass rod. Unlike LEDs which are in plastic tubes/diodes, neon is in hand-blown glass. The glass rods I use come from Italy, it is a hard glass and difficult to handle when you are not used to it. There are not many steps to create a neon but designing it is also very technical, it combines the blowing, the handling, there is also the heat of the flashlight to take into account. It's complicated without being complicated, anyone can make a neon but precision work and mastery of technique are key elements.

Where does your inspiration come from?
I am never really fascinated by the neons I see. What attracts me above all is the source of light, this gas that illuminates at 360° within a tube. Neon is a light that permeates, that creates an atmosphere in an environment. When I draw on my graphic tablet I identify a model that I like and I imagine it in neon, I think of the different steps and the finished product.

Neon and art, is it obvious?
Creating a neon is a bit of a common step in the life of an artist, an experimental phase. There are very few neon artists per se. Many neon designs have been created by artists, especially lettering that can be found all over the world. From the point of view of a neonist, working on a lettering for an artist or for an optician is ultimately the same thing. Personally it's not the lettering that attracts me in neon artworks. You have artists who work a little more with volume like François Morellet, Bruce Nauman, Dani Bonet, or Bethan Huws that I find more interesting.