Matt Dilling was captivated by neon as a teenager, when he saw Bruce Nauman's neon sculpture The True Artist Helps The World by Revealing Mystic Truths. "It's still my favorite neon piece—and I believe it's true," he says of the work that inspired him to learn how to make neon himself.
Dilling apprenticed with the artist Craig Kraft, then studied sculpture at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. From there Dilling moved to New York, where he opened his studio, Lite Brite Neon, in 1999. "I thought I would be a fine artist and then I discovered that I actually like running a business," he says. Today his studio near the Gowanus Canal juggles about 20 projects at any one time, most for high-end fashion retailers and fine artists.
"I've never met people who are passive about neon," Dilling says. "People are draw to it because it's mysterious—it's not quite of the ether and not quite of the earth. I think it's very spiritual, working with light."