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Straker's Neon Murals

Words:

Edd Norval
January 8, 2020

Straker's neon glow style of graffiti isn't only groundbreaking in how he creates the pieces, but how he thinks about them too. True to form of the neon sign-making process, the length of lines the artist uses, and the shape of the composition, are all in-keeping with how neon tubes can be manipulated. The result is an artistic identity that stands apart in an increasingly saturated street art realm.

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Street art and graffiti, although not neccessarily the case anymore, tended to be a fairly spontaneous act - or at least had a spirit of spontaneity. This isn't the case with Straker who, first and foremost, seeks out or creates his own flat black surface for painting on. Then, with surface found or location identified, he'll return to work on his iPad, creating a mock-up of his ideas as a means of best integrating the environment and mood of the place into the piece.


Although pioneering, the style itself isn't as time consuming as others. This means that the artist can dedicate a lot more time getting the design right, rather than time spent executing it on a wall. Where some artist's can be working on a project for a matter of weeks, Straker's can be done in as little as an hour. This speedy approach, combined with the freedom of movement the limited lining style grants him, means he never forsakes his roots as a graffiti writer.


The Perth, Australia based Straker's images translate well into photographs, where the colours can truly pop and the subtleties of paint fade away creating an immersive illusion of the paint actually glowing - something that many people who view his work are curious about. Photography also eliminates the transient and organic nature of his work. Using illuminous paints (layered on top of the white lines that act as the neon tube) that fade away fairly quickly due to weather conditions, the original vibrancy of his works is best preserved through images.

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As with many great ideas, they don't usually come from extensive conceptualising, nor deep discussion, but as spur-of-the-moment realisations. For Straker, it was painting a sports bar and thinking that the neon sign look would be cool. It turns out, more than being cool, it set a precedence for the rest of his artistic path.


Straker, the chosen name of Drew Straker, works under the pretence of illusion. Particularly, the illusion of light. The way he has layered the paint, as well as painting on contrasing black backgrounds, contributes to the sense that the paint glows and that, combining with shadows and naturally ocurring light, stays faithful to the original use of neon in signs - to catch the eye and to stand out.


Appreciating the power of light in our contemporary world, the artist asks us to imagine Times Square without it, melancholically reflecting that "you're not left with much." Provoked to paint by curiosity, first from skateboarding around and seeing graffiti to looking in awe towards a huge neon sign in his hometown, Straker's work continues to push boundaries as he travels the world absorbing some of the major cities for both art and neon sign culture.


It's his curiosity that got him where he is and it's this curiosity that has given us another artist who has brokden down the perceived limitations of what we see graffiti and street art as being able to do.

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