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Topic: [ncsm-members] Google Doodlers - The artists behind the face of Google
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
[ncsm-members] Google Doodlers - The artists behind the face of Google
Posted: Apr 7, 2012 3:17 PM
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From American Profile, January 8-14, 2012, cover
and pp. 4-6. See
Google Doodlers

The artists behind the face of Google

By j poet

Growing up in Uniondale, N.Y., Jennifer Hom loved
to draw, especially doodles of flowers, unicorns
and fairies. Today, the artist still doodles--but
for an audience of millions of computer users who
visit, the popular Internet search

Working at the offices of Google Inc. in Mountain
View, Calif. (pop. 74,066), Hom is a member of
the creative team that produces amusing,
informative and whimsical doodles that decorate
Google's corporate logo on its home page for
national holidays and special events--or
sometimes just for fun.

"Don't listen to anyone who says you can't do
anything with art, because it's not true," says
Hom, 24, who graduated in 2009 from the Rhode
Island School of Design.

Celebrating everything from the Fourth of July to
Albert Einstein's birthday to the anniversary of
the Pac-Man arcade game, Google doodlers humanize
the company's worldwide search network, used more
than 1 billion times daily. Their creations have
become an important part of the Google brand and
generate waves of chatter and goodwill on the

SIDEBAR: The Art of Google -- Google
celebrates special events and national holidays
through creative doodles fashioned from its
corporate logo. Play Video at
to see examples. (let it run for a short time,
and then the "google" emerges.

"Google doodles allow us to have fun with our
company logo and express our love of art and
technology," says Ying Wang, Google's director of
product management. "We want to share this fun
with our users and hope our doodles put a smile
on their faces before they go on to their daily

Doodling around

The first doodle was introduced in 1998 when
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founders of what then
was a startup company, were leaving town to
attend the Burning Man Festival, a weeklong music
and arts event in the northern Nevada desert. To
signal to Google users that they were away from
their desks, they inserted a primitive line
drawing of the Burning Man logo behind the second
"O" in the Google name.

Periodically, other doodles followed featuring
simple clip art to enhance the company's logo for
New Year's Day, Valentine's Day and other
prominent holidays, as well as the 2000 Summer
Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

Dennis Hwang was 22 and a computer-programming
intern from Stanford University when he became
the company's first chief doodler. Hwang, who
enjoyed drawing cartoons for his own amusement,
made his Google debut on July 14, 2000, with a
doodle celebrating France's Bastille Day.

Users responded enthusiastically to the artwork,
and doodles have been a regular feature of
Google's home page ever since. Over the years,
the team has created more than 300 doodles for
the U.S. site and more than 700 for Google home
pages in 45 other nations in Europe, Asia,
Africa, the Middle East and South America.

"We create images to astound, amuse and educate
our users," says Ryan Germick, 31, who joined
Google in 2006 as the team's first full-time
doodler. "We're always trying to one-up ourselves
and do something that hasn't been done before,
but we also want it to remain fun for the users."

While Google's early doodles were simplistic and
playful--celebrating the birthdays of
Michelangelo, Martin Luther King Jr. and Andy
Warhol; events such as Election Day or World Cup
soccer; or milestones such as the 100th
anniversary of flight or the 50th anniversary of
the understanding of DNA--they became more
elaborate beginning in 2006 as artists were hired
for the sole purpose of doodling.

The Google logo has been written in Braille to
celebrate the birthday of Louis Braille, creator
of the writing system for the visually impaired;
tapped out in Morse code symbols to honor Samuel
Morse, inventor of the telegraph; constructed of
Lego bricks to mark the toy's 50th anniversary;
and illuminated like laser lights as one of many
doodles honoring scientific inventions.

The first animated doodle premiered Jan. 4, 2010,
for what would have been Sir Isaac Newton's 368th
birthday, and paid tribute to the scientist's
theories on gravity. A click of the mouse made an
apple fall from a tree branch.

The era of interactive doodles arrived several
months later when visitors to Google's home page
were invited to play a game of Pac-Man. For
Thanksgiving, a holiday feast shaped like the
company logo revealed a recipe from chef Ina
Garten for each dish clicked. A doodle
celebrating the 75th birthday of Muppeteer Jim
Henson allowed users to maneuver various Muppet
characters. And last June, Google unveiled its
most popular doodle--honoring guitar innovator
Les Paul by letting users pluck guitar strings to
compose their own ditties. The musical doodle
drew more than 40 million hits in two days.

SIDEBAR: Meet the Google Doodlers. The creative
team behind the face of Google. Play Video at

Taking fun seriously

Doodlers work in a creative environment on
Google's campus in an office that features high
ceilings and lots of natural light where team
members regularly brainstorm to identify
noncontroversial topics worthy of a doodle. The
ideas are gathered from numerous sources,
including Google users, and research that, not
surprisingly, requires lots of Googling across
the World Wide Web.

"We like the idea of serendipity," says Germick,
a graduate of the Parsons School of Design in New
York City and now the team's creative director.
"Since Google is a technological company, we tend
to make doodles that celebrate innovation,
technology and science. We keep them lighthearted
to surprise and delight our users."

The size of Germick's team fluctuates--Hwang now
is one of the company's webmasters, for
instance--and the artists draw on the work of
Google animators, engineers, designers,
filmmakers and illustrators throughout the world.
Though a doodle usually only gets 24 hours of
face time at, a group of artists may
devote months to its creation.

For instance, a doodle last April 16 marking the
birthday of comic legend Charlie Chaplin featured
a two-minute black-and-white film in which every
member of the doodle team played a role. "The
Chaplin doodle took a lot of people and a lot of
effort to create," says Hom, who portrayed a
woman selling muffins. "We had a whole film crew
working with us."

Beyond digital pens and electronic tablets, tools
for creating Google doodles range from clip art
to fine art. For a 2011 doodle honoring French
painter Cézanne, doodler Mike Dutton painted with
oils on a traditional canvas to capture the
artist's characteristic brushstrokes and to
create an image for digital scanning. For a
doodle celebrating Russian composer Tchaikovsky,
Google videotaped members of the San Francisco
Ballet and used images of their bodies to spell
out the logo.

Such creative freedom is why Hom loves her job.
"We have a lot of autonomy and celebrate things
that are geeky, artsy and fun," she says.
PHOTO SIDEBAR: The creative team behind the
Google doodles --
- Courtesy of Google Inc.
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

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