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Graffiti artist creates innovative neon murals around London

Emerald Pellot
·3-min read

David Speed is a London-based neon graffiti artist. Speed uses an innovative technique to create neon murals with a unique composition. The artist wants to dispel any thoughts that graffiti is just vandalism by creating art with a message.

Speed spoke with In The Know about his ethos, process and how his Instagram, davidspeeduk, has helped his work take off.

“Graffiti had the stigma of it only being about vandalism,” Speed told In The Know. “And at the time, when I, sort of, first started my business, which was 2010, I didn’t believe that to be the case because I knew several amazing artists that were making amazing work that nobody knew about.”

The Londoner’s pieces tend to capture his subject’s humanity. Like a regal portrait of Chadwick Boseman, two men locking arms or a somber woman wearing a face mask.

“I am sort of well-known for creating neon artwork, street art on a large scale in London and, sort of, as I put it on the internet, it kind of spiraled out of control a little bit,” he explained.

But Speed says he stumbled upon his signature technique by accident. When a job required neon paint he noticed that it appeared darker over dark areas and very bright where it was white.

“So I realized this is neon paint, it’s fluorescent, there’s no tone involved,” Speed told In The Know. “If I under-paint my paintings with a darker color where I want it to be darker and a lighter color where I want it to pop, then I can create tone really where there isn’t any. And then by throwing white on top of the paintings I can create the feeling of light.”

That “feeling of light” is captured in a mural from September. It features a couple in an intimate embrace as a stream of light circles them.

“I’ve always wanted to do something positive in the world,” Speed said. “Even when I was painting in places that I wasn’t supposed to be painting, I was still trying to create work with impact, with meaning that was helping people, that was affecting their lives in some way.”

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