Neon Toothpaste was created as a first volume display typeface/identity for CreateSpace Art Forum. The font was developed in response to polarization in the 2016 Presidential Election. Reacting to diminishing civil discourse and solidarity between party lines and cultural groups.
Living in Chicago's rougher neighborhood of Little Village, I noticed all the storefronts had aggressive neon "wire rope" lighting that flashed all through the night. You'd walk down the midnight street to a barrage of flashing color. Red, green, white, and blue predominantly. The lights were a business tool and functioned in two ways. First, it kept the store looking alive and active, detouring loiterers. Second, it alerted the community that it was there and excited for business the following day. The incessant flashing both detoured crime and attracted customers!
This was the hope for our art forum, to detour the polarity in these dark political times and to attract solidarity through rejuvenated social commerce the following day.
Neon Toothpaste was adapted from my original Toothpaste font. Each letter from the original was disassembled by it's three or four main parts and reconfigured horizontally until another dynamic composition was found. Legibility was disregarded and each letter took on a cryptic, non-pictographic, hieroglyphic form. I then alternated the markings by color—green, red, blue, and white. Lastly, I filmed and studied the variations of neon "wire rope" sequences in my neighborhood and animated my four favorite.
When a forum is approaching the sequence turns "on" to notify attendees of the upcoming event. When the event is over, Neon Toothpaste turns "off." Then, when a recap is published, what we call a Benediction, Neon Toothpaste "Waterfall" is activated. The display font functions to notify our attendees what part of each forum we are in.
The cryptic phrase spelled out in Neon Toothpaste are the lines to "This Little Light of Mine," a traditional Christian children's hymn that has fueled many Church supported civil rights movements in America. The phrase also addresses the contemporary stigma towards having any spiritual persuasion at all in a post-religious and secularizing America.
Ladies and gentleman. I give you, Neon Toothpaste.
- Robert Soltys
- Ryan Smith