Brighten up!

Through the years, fluorescents have held a glowing place in our hearts

In the ‘60s, fluorescent and neon colors were groovy. In the ‘80s, they were rad. Today, these bodacious hues are getting a glow-up because of new print technologies spreading the shine.

We’re publishing a blog series on color trends and symbolism for designers and brands who want to use color more compellingly. Check it out!

Brighten up with fluorescentsHave you heard the term Day-Glo? It was discovered by accident almost 100 years ago.

“Luminescent paint was first invented by Bob Switzer in the 1930s. After suffering an accident, the Ohio teenager was advised to recover in a dark room. To pass the time he played around with waving fluorescent minerals around in the air, which inspired his later experiments with mixing wood varnish and the minerals. The resulting product was named Day-Glo. The same technology was later used to create high-visibility jackets for World War II GIs.”

Harkening even further back, neon signage was introduced to the U.S. in 1923 and led to the iconic gas-powered signs that proliferated through the American Landscape in the 1950s. 

Did you know? Neon only creates reddish-orange. For other colors, you need argon, helium, krypton, or xenon.

Of course, bright shades of yellow and orange are a feature on construction sites, runways, and other places people and equipment need to stand out for safety. But since the early 20th century, neons and fluorescents have defined fashion, design trends, and subcultures in every generation. 

Andy Warhol introduced neon to the art scene in 1966 with his iconic cow series, while the counterculture movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s used bright swaths of color as a nod to psychedelics. Fluorescents made a comeback in the 90s with rave culture’s glow-in-the-dark accessories. The ‘80s, though, was the true neon decade with paint-splatter fabrics, glowing stacks of jelly bracelets, and bright, bold cosmetics.

Entice customers young and not-so-young

Today, neons and fluorescents aren’t nearly as ubiquitous as they once were. But that only makes them more powerful than ever in marketing, communication, signage, apparel, and other print collateral. With multi-color printing capabilities and dozens of bold yet attractive pigments and pantone options, it’s easy to make a big statement with a little color that goes a long way. 

They are also especially useful in evoking nostalgia for earlier eras, marketing to Boomers and Gen-Xers, and today’s younger consumers reinventing vintage trends. Classic car shows, ‘80s dance parties, and roll-back-price sales events are perfect opportunities to use neons. Mix fluorescents with unique substrates, embellishments, and clear and white inks for a modern take on the now-classic colors.

Connect with B&B Print Source today for a color consultation on your next print, packaging, or graphics project.