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Aggie Turns Sounds Into Artwork

Stephanie Cannon '06 June 27, 2013 9:23 AM

By Roberto Molar-Candanosa

There are portraits of many things out there: people, nature, objects, abstract ideas and even fantastic things that do not exist. But you will not see anything like that when you get art décor from Bespoken Art, an innovative business founded by David A. Caulkins ’08.

The Houston-based company with the slogan “Any Sound Into Art” makes just that: artistic representations of sound waves from a voice, a favorite song or any sound. Bespoken Art’s original designs are praised mostly because of the significance that capturing the sound of a moment, a concept or a unique story represents for some people.

“Everybody’s voice is different, like an audio signature,” Caulkins said. “It is not only an image—every sound portrait has a special story or meaning behind it.”

The story traces back to when Caulkins began keeping an idea journal as a teenager. Growing up in a family with three other Aggies—father Charles D. “Daniel” Caulkins ’76 and siblings Rachel K. Caulkins ’04 and Charles J. “Joe” Caulkins ’06—the soon-to-be entrepreneur heard a lot about Texas A&M by the time he got out of high school. In fact, his thirst for creativity and diligent journal annotations did not mature into real business ideas until he came to Texas A&M, when he opened a small clothing business with his brother.

Graduating with a major in communication and a minor in business played a key role for Caulkins’ interest in Bespoken Art. After teaching English in Japan, he returned to the United States with the sole goal of starting a business that would be closely related to speech communication. 

It was in November of 2010 when he thought of his most influential idea. He was inspired by a company with a similar concept that made art from a person’s DNA structures. That was brilliant, Caulkins thought, while brainstorming about new things that could be special and unique to every person. 
Then, in March 2011 Bespoken Art was launched, selling new and exciting art representations of numerous sounds all over the country and the globe. The business now offers personalized portraits made from client-selected sounds and waveform prints pre-designed by Caulkins. 

And when Caulkins talks about “Any Sound Into Art,” he means it. With Bespoken Art the possibilities are endless—literally—as portraits can be made of the barking of a beloved pet, the lyrics of an original composition, a recitation of your favorite poem or anything else, as long as it makes a sound.

There are also those kinds of sounds with high emotional value, such as recordings of wedding vows, deceased relatives, ultrasounds and heartbeats, or a baby’s first cry in the delivery room. These sounds, Caulkins said, are what make managing his business so enjoyable. They give him a chance to get an insight into people’s lives.

Caulkins also enjoys exploring his creativity through his business. He makes artistic prints of his own, such as the city sounds, which embed New York and Houston’s famous skylines into their city noises; clever designs of famous quotes, like Hamlet’s “to be or not to be;” or the entire “Star-Spangled Banner” making up the stripes of the American flag.

He also makes sure to show his Aggie Spirit. His pre-designed prints include recordings from valued Aggie lore such as the expression, “Gig ’em, Ags,” featured in maroon and white shades, and a live recording of students singing “The Spirit of Aggieland.” In the future, he would also like to make a portrait of the yells at Kyle Field during a football game. 

The peculiarity of Bespoken Art as a business concept and as a product makes it appealing to various audiences. “I’ve gotten orders from all over the world: from China, Australia, South America, Europe, Africa—it’s an idea that encapsulates any culture and any language,” Caulkins said. His business has been featured in numerous blogs, magazines, and television shows over the years.

Caulkins explained making the prints is fairly simple. The canvases display the visualization of a mathematical equation that measures sound frequency, wave and amplitude. These sounds can be recorded with practically any audio recording program and submitted to the company. Then, he edits the sound portrait for size, resolution and color. The timeframe for producing a personalized print is generally two weeks.

Next to simplicity, another thing Caulkins loves about his business is the flexibility it gives him to do other things. Upholding the long-held Aggie value of selfless service, he helps his community through charity efforts for Emmaus Ministries, the WorkFaith Connection, Smile Train and other nonprofit organizations in Houston. 

Having this freedom also allows him to do other things he loves, such as volunteering at church, surfing, and embracing his creativity in activities such as “idea night,” something he and his brother started when they realized that everybody has the ability to create.

“Idea night is nothing more than getting together and sharing what is in our mind, looking at businesses, at the culture, and at opportunities in Houston, one of the fastest-growing cities in the country,” he said. 

Idea night is now a hobby for Caulkins, who has his hands full with Bespoken Art and community involvement. But it may just be that his next great idea is buried inside his journal, or waiting to be shared during an idea night. 

Learn more at

Photo captions in order of appearance:

-This artwork by David A. Caulkins ’08 combines the skyline of Houston with a visual representation of the sounds of the city.

-A visual representation of the Spirit of Aggieland.

-Additional samples of the work of Bespoken Art.

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