What are neon colors, how they are made and looking into the history of how they were used? Also including hex codes. We also investigate the difference between neon and fluorescent colors.

What are neon colors?

What are Neon Colors?

Neon colors are basically very bright versions of existing colors on the color wheel. Neon colors don’t exist naturally, they are artificially and chemically created. Neon colors are sometimes referred to as luminescent colors. However, neon colors are not actually luminescent, but fluorescent colors do have luminescent properties.

Fluorescent colors actually emit light. Colors with fluorescent properties absorb none visible light and reflects it back out on the visible spectrum. This is why things with fluorescent properties seem so bright.

Neon Colors

Neon Red – HEX #FF1D15: One of the brightest variations of red, It has a slight orange tone.

Neon Green – #37FD12: Chartreuse is also considered neon green.

Neon Blue – #4D44FF: Cyan and electric blue are classed as neon colors.

Neon Purple – #9D00FF: Sometimes called proton purple.

Neon Orange – #FF6700: Also known as electric orange.

Neon Pink – #FB48C4: Also hot pink and magenta are very close.

Neon Yellow – #FFF01F: Also Chartreuse yellow.

How are Neon Colors Created?

During the late 18th century, Henry Cavendish was experimenting with removing elements from a contained amount of air. These elements were nitrogen and oxygen. After the process of removing these elements, scientists discovered a remaining gas, which they concluded was Argon. Argon is what is known as a noble gas, which is one of six rare natural gases.

Other scientists continued to experiment with argon, believing that there were more hidden rare gases. Their suspicions were correct, they discovered three more gases, and these are Xenon, Krypton and Neon.

In 1910, Georges Claude (inventor) successfully created a lamp which utilized neon gas. It gave off a bright red orange glow which became very popular in America and across Europe in the early 20th century.

Different gases actually give off different colors, so not all neon lights are made out of neon gas.    

Neon open sign.

Neon Colors & Noble Gases

Neon: Red to orange

Xenon: Green, blue or whitish

Krypton: Green or yellow

Argon: Violet moving to blue

Helium: Orange, pink and red

Radon: Yellow, but due to emitting high levels of radiation, it’s not used in neon lighting for obvious reasons.

Neon lights became very popular; in certain conditions and settings they appear modern, making cities look futuristic and attractive at night. Bars and clubs also often used neon lighting. On the other hand they can also look cheap and classless.  

Neon vs Fluorescent

One main difference is that neon lights, as already mentioned, they are created out of noble gases. Fluorescence, on the other hand, is created by mercury vapor. Fluorescent lights also produce ultraviolet light. Neon lights require far less power to function and are good for displays, or providing mood lighting. Fluorescent lights produce much more light, and can sufficiently light up an entire room. Neon lamps can also be shaped, so often used for signs and lettering, plus they come in a variety of different colors. Fluorescent tubes are usually straight and produce mainly white light.       

History of Neon & Neon Art

Neon lights rapidly became used to illuminate cities across Europe and America after their conception in 1910. A few decades later, in the 1930s and beyond, artists began using neon lights, simply called neon art. During their first use, neon lights were seen as modern and attractive. However, once they had been around for a while, certain less well maintained city areas started seeing their neon lights begin to fail. We have all seen those run-down areas with failing and flickering neon lights. This caused many people to associate neon lights with seedy, not so respectable areas.  

Moving on to the 60s artists such as Joseph Kosuth and Keith Sonnier began working with neon lights.

Neon Art.

In the 80s, a group of artists called the Young British Artists, got involved with neon art. These artists included Fiona Banner, Ivan Navarro, Tracey Emin, Cerith Wyn Evans, Jung Lee, Glenn Ligon.

Moving on to today, neon colors are still very popular. You can tell this by the popularity of modern abstract images with neon colors on stock websites like Shutterstock. In certain conditions they help to create attractive and striking designs.

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