It all starts with a pen and paper for Kate Bingaman-Burt, one of the 18 artists tapped to bring Dolby’s history to life in our new home at 1275 Market Street in San Francisco. A Portland-based illustrator, author, and educator, Bingaman-Burt likes to draw things in pieces first before she knows the end game.
“It’s funny, I don’t really think about the end image,” says the artist. “I like to do the parts and pieces first, and once I get it scanned into the computer, I put the parts together. I’m like a collage illustrator of my own illustrations.”
Her unique style lends itself perfectly to the pieces she created for the new Dolby headquarters in San Francisco. Her artworks are among the 36 curated pieces that celebrate the partnership Dolby has always had with artists. Bingaman-Burt’s working style is closely in line with that of inventors, tinkering with elements to bring a new idea to life. Her 11 illustrations of movies that have played a significant part in Dolby’s history in Hollywood are reminiscent of old-fashioned movie posters. The project gave Bingaman-Burt the opportunity to immerse herself in movie classics like A Clockwork Orange, Apocalypse Now, and Star Wars.
“When I was first approached with the project, I was honored and very excited since I’m a movie lover. It was a fun challenge to work with a bunch of graphic movies I was familiar with and others I’m not used to at all.”
Bingaman-Burt continues, “I’m honestly not very familiar with Star Wars, so I asked my students to write down objects that they associated with it and used some of those. They loved getting involved.”
Her illustrations create a visual story in one frame—iconic images and notable moments from each film are juxtaposed against the Dolby technology that helped give it life. “I started thinking about elements that were really familiar and associated to the movie, and then when I was working, I thought it’d be interesting to do borders that associated with the movie as well, so it was fun to bring in elements in a more decorative way.” In one piece, she used the shape of Darth Vader’s helmet to frame the image.
Leveraging her style of “keeping it really simple yet not minimal,” Bingaman-Burt has created pieces that grab the attention immediately through familiarity and creativity. Of her aesthetic, she says, “It’s like overwhelmingly simple. For example, my pieces are sometimes just one color and are usually pretty flat with simple objects. But the way I use that color and arrange the objects yields a pretty bold and overwhelming effect.”
Her technique may start with a pen and paper, but the computer plays a pivotal role in her creation process. “Technology has an immense impact on my work. Because my work is so simple, it would be very difficult to do this work without a computer to translate it.”
“Once I have everything on the computer and am working on composition, usually I will have to remove myself from the computer and draw a few more elements that I think the design will need. It’s a nice balance of working in analog and bringing it to the digital work.”
An artist who “makes piles of work about consumerism,” Bingaman-Burt has received the 2013 Portland State University College of the Arts Kamelia Massih Outstanding Faculty Prize and was a speaker at 2013 TEDx Portland. Her first book, Obsessive Consumption: What Did You Buy Today? was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2010.