LAS VEGAS — Neon signs and electric marquees are glowing, glittery beacons that mark Las Vegas as the entertainment capital of the world.
But they’re also symbols of a decades-old artistic legacy left by neon sign designers, like 83-year-old Rudy Crisostomo.
“I was the first one who designed an electric marquee on the Strip,” Crisostomo said. “Its a very lucrative profession if you can make into it, like designing cars and furniture. But I decided to go to neon signs, the electric signs for me it was easy, because I’m artist.”
Among Crisostomo’s notable designs on the Vegas strip is the Sands Pylon. In 1978, the Sands Pylon design was part of a major remodeling at the resort.
This fully cantilevered Circus Circus porte-cochere is also among Crisostomo’s portfolio.
Like to design by hand and draw by hand, because it has more touch to it the human feeling,” he said. “The computer become very bland.”
Crisostomo started out as an industrial engineer after World War II, but eventually, he found his way into the electric sign design field, landing a job in 1961 the with iconic sign company YesCo.
His work earned him the favor of the city’s hotel and casino industry. But he says he did not get the credit he deserved.
“I work for them for 35 years, I have retired from their company. I have a very little, little exposure because the company gets a lot of credit for what I’ve done,” he said.
Crisostomo also left his mark on Vegas’ Filipino community, emerging as an early leader.
“I was the first president of the Filipino community and then I get upset about it, because the Filipinos doesn’t get along with each other.”
During the Las Vegas centennial celebration in 2005, the Mayor honored Crisostomo’s talent and contributions — lighting up Las Vegas for all the world to see.