Drew Tyndell Draws the Contours of Sound

Whether he’s creating motion graphics or making an abstract sculpture out of wooden pieces, artist Drew Tyndell builds a sense of fun and experimentation into his projects. For a mural he created for the new Dolby headquarters in San Francisco, he decided to work with a new element: sound.

Because Dolby has a long history of creating sound technologies, the artist wanted his piece “to respond to sound as much as possible. I wanted to use music to inspire the mark-making in order to create shapes I wouldn’t normally draw.”

Tyndell, who grew up surrounded by the tools and house plans of his father’s architectural business, describes his aesthetic as “modern and geometric … with some handmade qualities creeping in.”

Tyndell is one of 20 artists from whom Dolby commissioned art pieces for the new building on San Francisco’s Market Street. The aim of the project, as Vice President and Executive Creative Director Vince Voron wrote, was “to produce an environment that would put smiles on the faces of my colleagues when they came to work and make them proud to escort visitors through our new corporate home.”

Listening to classical music and to “weird looping pieces” from the 1970s by Philip Glass was a big part of Tyndell’s process when creating this piece. The artist worked with his eyes closed, letting the music guide him, drawing the way a child might—but with years of design experience.

“I can’t say I’ve ever really shut my eyes and tried to listen to music as carefully as I did for this project. It was fun to bring that into how I create shapes.”

Drawing blind with the music playing, Tyndell drew shapes on a Wacom tablet that transferred his work to the computer. “I love the simplicity of drawing on the computer, whether it’s drawing straight lines and connecting points, or animating scratchy drawings. It streamlines my process in a major way.”

Once he had the raw drawings, he assembled the shapes and lines into a collage for the mural.

Working with sound on this contour drawing piece opened up his work in ways he didn’t expect. “I definitely think that this project inspired me to create more organic shapes,” says Tyndell. “My work is normally much more geometric. After I finished this project, I have been much more interested in mixing in more irregular shapes into my work.”