Artist uses his love of neon to brighten Hampton Roads

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — From the outside in, there is no shortage of imagination at Absolute Art in Richmond.

“The lights themselves has kind of a buzz zapper effect,” said tattoo artist Ian O Nuallain looking at neon sign in the window. “It just draws people right in.”

Here the creativity happens when skin becomes canvass.

“There is a bit of a physical accomplishment when you are done,” O Nuallain added.
“I’ve never been a tattooer,” said Jeremy Meikle. “I’ve only gotten them.”

Back in Virginia Beach, a small shed behind Meikle’s home is where he does his best work. 

“The idea of tattooing or putting something on someone permanently is super scary to me,” he chuckled. 

No Meikle isn’t a tattooer, but his creations have a way of standing out. 

“I make neon signs and neon artwork,” he said.

Meikle started True Love Neon five years ago and his pieces are rare and so is he. He is the only person to makes neon signs in Virginia Beach and one of only two in Hampton Roads. 

“The way we make neon now is the same way they did it in the 1920s,” Meikle added.

It’s a process which at times makes him look more like a chemistry professor.

“Neon in clear glass is an orangey red and argon in clear glass gives you blue,” he explained. “It is a basic color wheel.”

Sign making is complicated, but Meikletries to dumb down.

“Gas, glass and phosphor,” he said. “All of those things makes neon.”

Essentially, he is buried in glass tubes and surrounded by torches that can be as hot as 1,700 degrees.

“Sorry if you smell a little burnt arm hair, but it happens,” Meikle laughed.

All to create something as simple as an open sign or a masterpiece much more intricate. “One in particular that stands out,” Meikle said. “It’s in a tattoo shop in Richmond, Virginia, called Absolute Art.”

In the giant glass window sits Meile’s creation glowing bright blue. 

“It’s a continuous neon piece that floats though four different windows,” Meikle added. “It is a crashing wave and rolling though the rest of the windows.”

“You can see it from across the street and this you can see it from across town if you squint hard enough,” O Nuallain said.

You can’t quite see it from Hampton Roads, but if you look hard enough, you’ll no doubt see Meikle’s work in business or restaurant. 

“I take a lot of pride in my work,” Meikle said. “I plan to keep doing this until my fingers fall off.”

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