Today we’d like to introduce you to Dani Bonnet.
Dani, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I have always been deeply in love with science & art. I graduated with a degree in Biochemistry and have always aimed to find ways to combine the two disciplines. It started out with formulating my own quirky lip balm line.
Then I started noticing how much neon there is present in LA and became fixated on the science and craftsmanship behind it. It is the brightest lights & they are consistently sprinkled down every street of LA. I did some research and found a class in the Arts District (lead by Lili Lakich) that taught me how to make a custom neon sign from scratch.
Through that, I was able to make my first sign (everything besides the glass bending) & I became completely addicted to the craft. After that, I had to seek out someone to offer me an apprenticeship in the dying craft of neon glass bending (which unfortunately there aren’t too many doing let alone teaching these days largely due to the emergence of LED lights).
I went through a couple leads and talked with them until I finally found one that would agree to teach me everything. I now travel 3 hours every weekend to learn from a great mentor named Juan Ortega in Temecula. I still have a really really long way to go but I am finally at the point where I can bend and create my own signs.
Then through this, I started telling my family about this & it turns out my grandparents ran a neon repair shop in my hometown of Vegas! Which I was very much surprised but also so honored to know, I vaguely remember them talking a little bit of shop when I was younger on how they could find and fix more damaged signs.
They recently mailed me their old neon repair toolbox that actually contained a bunch of hard to get your hands on tools that I really needed. Glass bending itself takes a bunch of hours to perfect – they say 40 hours of work a week for 6 months to even become okay. I am on a slow path of getting there but I am very determined.
I work full time in Biotech sales by the day and take all my energy after that to work on it at nights and weekends. There is nothing more fulfilling than when you finally plug in a completed sign and watch it glow up and entire room. It’s almost an addicting feeling. Every time I finish a project I try to find ways to get a new project and my next fix (haha).
Has it been a smooth road?
There has been so many obstacles so far, first being it is a very expensive hobby you really have to commit to a design in order to make it. Now that I have been able to bulk buy a few parts that’s been really freeing but there still are so many expenses that cause me to really be dependent on my day job to continue to support.
The second obstacle has just been with the fact that neon is a bit of a dying craft. Nearly all the schools that once taught it have closed there doors (I think there is one remaining in New York but it is quite expensive) I’ve had to work really really hard to continue to learn and find mentors willing to teach me. I can’t wait to get to the point where I’m self-sufficient in it.
It also is incredibly hard to find a place in LA to utilize as a workshop (no surprise but a lot of places aren’t cool with you running open flames in them haha) I have to separate the sections of making a neon sign into three different garages that I travel between.
1. Glass bending and vacuuming in Temecula
2. Woodworking for the sign backing in Huntington Beach
3. Fabricating the sign and putting all the pieces together in Costa Mesa (and sometimes Echo Park where I currently reside).
I travel so much between all three of these spots just to complete 1 sign – lots of driving but to me its worth it!
I also keep finding myself having to learn more and more separate crafts to maximize my abilities. Like I had to figure out a bit of woodworking and using power tools, and safe & sound electrical wiring.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with n/a – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I’m not really a company, just a lone artist wolf trying to leave my creative mark on the world.
The specialty is custom neon! I particularly love making signs for my close friends. Knowing a part of me is lighting up their homes is always nice. I want to get to the point where I can spend more on making my own artistic visions but financially limited currently. I am very good and designing and making custom neon signs (one offers that are completely unique)
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love how bright LA is! We have so much neon! I travel a lot and go to other cities and have yet to find one fully comparable. (Austin is pretty good). There is so much culture here too! Different people and different visions, it’s really nice to collaborate with. Also inspired a lot by the ambition that courses through most Angelos Veins. Makes me feel less insane about my neon side hustle haha!
- Website: www.danibart.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: dani_bonnet