Amos Goldbaum didn’t know he’d be drawing scenes from Dolby’s history when he agreed to contribute work to the walls of the company’s new headquarters in the making at 1275 Market Street. The San Francisco artist is best known for his murals and T-shirts depicting local landmarks in single-color line drawings.
“I do some landscape-y, San Francisco-type stuff—and I think that’s what they were thinking of originally,” Goldbaum said.
But while he was showing his portfolio to the Dolby curators in charge of commissioning art for the new headquarters, his more mechanically focused work caught the curators’ eyes.
“They had been going through the Dolby archive and seeing all these archival photos of guys tinkering with machines and stuff,” Goldbaum said, “and so they showed those to me and said, ‘Maybe you can do this. Instead of the landscapes, you could use these to do something,’ and I was into that.”
From there, Goldbaum’s work began.
The artist creates his illustrations in stages, beginning with source images, then creating a digital collage of those photographs. This process allows Goldbaum to draw once without sketching, but still have a clear vision of where he’s going before he puts pen to paper. For these drawings, his collages began in the Dolby archives.
Starting with a folder of Dolby archive photos, he says, “I chose a couple and stitched them together, and took some other things, too, these big faces and some more mechanical old machinery kind of stuff and built these little collages,” Goldbaum said. “So I have the source material, and once I have it, I’ll print it out.
“I just kind of stay as close to that source material as I can, as close to the collage that I’ve made as I can, and that kind of serves as a sketch without having to put it on the paper.”
Once the drawing is finished, Goldbaum brings it back to the computer, scans the drawing, and creates a vector image based on his pen lines. This vector image can then be enlarged, shrunk, or otherwise reconfigured, ready to be reproduced on a T-shirt, or in this case, as vinyl decals that will cover a wall.
That size matters, according to Goldbaum.
“I think it’s cool to see the drawing at that scale,” Goldbaum said. “The people in those drawings are almost as big as a normal person. So I think it’s kind of cool to get it off of a piece of paper and into a workspace where people are standing right next to their counterparts at the same scale as they are.”
Goldbaum hopes that his drawings will contribute to the work that goes on at Dolby in a way that remains true to the creative process he sees in the archival photos.
“The photos I was most drawn to were the ones of people interacting with the machines and console-type things,” Goldbaum said. “They had a bunch of buttons, knobs, and levers—I liked that as a metaphor for creating any sort of art. A console’s mechanics are analogous to using a pen or a brush.”
He added, “I think it’s cool to be part of this, like, feedback loop at Dolby. That they can kind of look back at their history and draw on ideas from there. And hopefully my drawing can be some sort of interpretation of that, maybe make them look back at their history in a different way.”