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“The art of drawing which is of more real importance to the human race than that of writing... should be taught to every child just as writing is,” declared John Ruskin, one of the most prominent writers in the 19th century.
From doodles to murals to blueprints, it is how humans communicated before the creation of language, and it continues to succeed where the spoken word often fails.
One everyday place that pays homage to the art of doodling is the homepage of search engine giant Google. Spontaneous changes are regularly made to the company’s distinctive logo in celebration of holidays, anniversaries and the lives of famous artists, pioneers and scientists who have helped shape history.
Kelly’s winning creation ‘My Adventure in the Jungle'
In March, 8-year-old Dublin schoolgirl Kelly McCabe was announced as the overall winner of the sixth annual Doodle 4 Google competition, that received 2,390 entries from students across the country. This year’s theme was ‘My Adventure’ and Kelly’s winning drawing, entitled ‘My Adventure in the Jungle’, was inspired by the jungle and used animals such as elephants, lions and snakes to give the iconic Google logo a creative twist. Describing her doodle, Kelly says, “The jungle is where you can find lots of exciting things, just like Google.”
And the judges agreed. Katy Wu is a professional doodler at Google Headquarters in San Francisco and she was at the European Headquarters in Dublin to choose the winning doodle. Speaking about Kelly’s creation, Wu says, “I was struck by how clearly Kelly’s drawing portrayed the idea of ‘My Adventure’ and how she created a personality for each of the animals.”
Kelly McCabe, winner of the 2014 Doodle 4 Google competition, pictured with John Herlihy, head of Google Ireland; Google Doodler Katy Wu; and artist Jim Fitzpatrick
Often underrated as an art form, Wu says to be a successful doodler takes “not only drawing and painting skills but also the ability to brainstorm and be organised”. She has been involved in a number of doodle creations for the search engine since joining in July 2013. Her most prominent and ambitious project to date was Google’s Halloween Doodle when she worked with a contractor to create a puppet which was then filmed for animation using Flash.
Wu’s favourite creation however was the Valentine’s Day Doodle released in the US. To mark the day of love and all things sweet, the animated doodle was made in collaboration with public radio NPR’s “This American Life” host Ira Glass. Click on each of the six candy hearts within the Google logo and you hear the inimitable Glass narrate tales of love as featured on the world-renowned show.
Watch the behind the scenes of Google’s Valentine’s Day Doodle
While talent will get you so far in creating an eye-catching doodle but the tools you use are just as important. Wu is already a fan of using Wacom’s pressure-sensitive pens and tablets and has recently acquired their most-advanced tool Cintiq which allows artists to intuitively create their work on-screen. And as technology heads further towards the experiential, it’s exciting to see what the future may hold for the Google Doodle.
So where did the idea for Google Doodle come from?
In 1998 Larry and Sergey, Google’s founders, placed a stick figure drawing behind the second ‘o’ in the word Google as a message to users that they were “out of the office” attending a music and art festival. From there the idea of decorating the logo to mark cultural moments was born.
Users started seeing doodles for more national holidays and starting in 2003 doodles for people’s birthdays - the first being Monet in 2001, Picasso in 2002 and then Michelangelo and Albert Einstein six months later.
In line with the company’s modus operandi, you can easily search for your favourite doodle by logging onto www.google.com/doodles which goes back to when it all began in 1998. Enjoy!
This article originally appeared in Newstalk Magazine for iPad in March, for more details go here.