We had the good fortune of connecting with Alleson Buchanan and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Alleson, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Every neon sign is handmade by a glass bender. Becoming a skilled glass bender demands years of intentional practice. Not only must you learn the science behind the glow, you must also spend hours in the fire – be comfortable with molten glass in your hands, perfectly match every bend to a pattern, and ensure it’s strong enough to hold a vacuum. Glass bending consists of a lot of failure before triumph and requires emotional endurance and commitment.

Access to hours of practice time for beginners is one of the major needs in the neon field. I took a training course that built a great foundation, but upon completion, I still needed daily practice, and I wasn’t the only one. After rigorous attempts to become a neon apprentice, I learned that most shops don’t have the capacity to bring one on. I realized my community needed more flexible options, so I founded Radiant Neon.

I wanted to pursue my own glass bending prowess. But I also wanted to provide access to this otherwise inaccessible medium. It didn’t happen overnight. I crashed any neon shop that would let me visit or train me. Along the way I found an incredible community who invested in me and helped me realize my vision.

Radiant Neon is growing. I now offer options for all skill levels. In the coming year, I am expanding our programs that offer training for beginners.

Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I want my neon art to make people feel something – silly, shocked, make them giggle or make them think. I’m a dash of immature and spoonful of mischievous and I hope the world gets that when they see my work.

It was neon’s powerful glow that hooked me, but the fire is what sealed my fate. I love fire. It too holds power within its glow. The first time I put a glass tube in the fire I knew this was my path, I could feel it in my soul. I had an almost magical portal open in my mind, I saw my 90 year old self still bending glass in the fires.

But neon’s not all badassery and mystical fire portals. Sometimes it’s just sitting in the corner, crying, sliced, burned, and bandaged at 1am before a deadline. I love making it look magical and beautiful, but the reality is it takes serious commitment to mastering this highly technical skill.

My recent work explores the mystical and seeks to empower all femme identifying people. One of my favorite pieces I made this year is called “Big Lilith energy.” I was inspired by the story of Lilith and her powerful independence. She’s a true feminist icon. It’s an honor to literally put her name in lights, dripping in velvet.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Since I’m in Seattle, I’ll focus on Seattle 🙂

First, we’ll go to The Market. Known to visitors as Pike Place. It’s full of amazing local artists, makers, artisanal food and is exploding with neon. We’d grab a face sized cookie at Cinnamon Works, and a cup of coffee at Storyville Coffee, Falafel at Mr. D’s and then head toward the bars on 2nd. Cocktails at Rob Roy and a night cap at Bathtub Gin.

Next day we’d go to The Hill, Capitol Hill for amazing food at Plum Bistro. We’d get a cup of coffee and beans at my favorite roaster, Coffee Works, then walk for hours around the neighborhood. We’d buy books at Elliot Bay Book Company, walk through Cal Anderson Park and check out the architecturally stunning chapel at Seattle U. Then a cocktail at Canon and a late dinner at Cafe Pettiroso. Shawn’s vegan mac is the best!

Last day in Ballard and Fremont. We’d start at the Vintage Mall in Fremont. Gather way too many $1 records and walk over to Cafe Turko for lunch. Then we’d drive over to Ballard, grab a cup of coffee at Ballard Coffee works and wander the shops. Finally we’d pop over to Pablo y Pablo for the most amazing vegan nachos in the city.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
It has truly taken a village to get me where I am today. I’m so grateful to so many! I’d like to dedicate this particular shoutout to my friend and fellow neon maker, Danielle James, aka DJ. She’s been there for me in so many ways along my journey. And now we co-host a podcast called Neon Nonsense.

Website: RadiantNeon.com

Instagram: RadiantNeon

Twitter: NeonRadiant

Facebook: Radiant Neon

Other: Google Maps, Radiant Neon 2121 1st Ave, Seattle 98121

Image Credits
Janette Casolary

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