Hey Janice!

Just to let you know that you’re the next subject in my portrait series. Thanks for sending over such a brilliant image 🙂

David Speed, Wed. 17 April 2024, 17:59

I read those words in an email at 18:36—surprisingly quickly for me—and accompanying them was the image above. I’ll leave you to imagine what my reaction and response was.

I actually almost didn’t open the email, because I was in the middle of something and assumed it was a general mailout. But something made me look and I’m so glad I did.

Who is David Speed?

David is an East London based artist (who started painting in 2000), best known for his series of neon paintings, which he began to explore and develop during the lockdown (2020). – Read more about them here.

It was due to one of those neon paintings that I first came to know about David Speed UK.

(photo taken by me, 24 May 2021 – opp. Shoreditch High St Station)

In May 2021 this gorgeous painting caught my eye from the Junction of Bethnal Green Rd and Braithwaite St (London, E1). The sight stopped me in my tracks and I decided I needed to take a detour and investigate. It was another ‘so glad I did‘ moment.

Be Neon

Early 2023 David invited people on his mailing list to collaborate with him on a new project. He set up a portal for people to upload their images to, with the potential of becoming one of his street portraits.

Being a part of the Be Neon portrait series is definitely one of the coolest things that has happened this month (April 2024).  It is also possibly the coolest portrait—to date—of me ever.

I wasted no time and went to see neon me the day after receiving the email.  I mean, would you wait?

When Janice met Janice

Seeing Yourself

It is definitely ‘weird’ and amazing to see your likeness portrayed in such a striking way.

To borrow from one of the comments on some photos I posted the day after,  David captured your (my) essence so well.”

And as much as ‘when Janice met Janice’ was primarily a fun play on words, there is something to seeing ourselves looking back at us.

Something that some of us should possibly do more often—really look at ourselves. Both to check in with ourselves and to appreciate and celebrate who we are.—Just a thought.

‘What’s the interest in neon pink and faces?’

A question posed and answered on David’s socials. The following was part of his response:

I really like celebrating real people and I feel that we don’t see each other enough, especially in London…

David Speed UK – 11 March 2024

I think many of us can probably  identify with/see the validity of this opinion.

And one of his reasons for using  bright colours, is as a catalyst for making people stop, take notice and interact.

I saw this firsthand and watched with interest; spotting some people stopping to take photos of the portrait. Including one who took a photo of me grabbing a selfie!

My portrait is located on Kingsland Road (Dalston/Hackney). So if you’re in or near that area, go see it. – Before it potentially gets painted over!

And if you do see it, let me know.

  • I also got a Thursday Thought out  of this. You can watch it here.
  • You can see more of David’s work via his  website, Instagram profile (@davidspeeduk)  and other socials. You can also read more in this write-up about his 2nd solo show, Faded (October 2023)