How a Google doodle is born, told by those who create it

Google’s “modified” logos have become a permanent presence around the world, with a development team taking care of their often complicated implementation. Their first creator, art lead Matthew Cruickshank, told us the secrets of these little works of art

Whether it’s a static drawing, an animation or an interactive format, the doodle it is one of the most popular art forms of this era, even if we often don’t think about it: over the years the Google team has created more than 4000 for the homepages of every latitude, and behind each of them there is a story.

Saturday 12 May, on the occasion of the 99th anniversary of the birth of Margherita Hack, Google showed a doodle dedicated to Italian astrophysics, and on that occasion Wired had the pleasure of taking a peek behind the scenes of these small works of art by talking to their creator: Matthew Cruickshank, Google’s art lead, has a background at Disney and Warner Bros, and since 2012 has headed the Google Doodle Team.

Cruickshank explained to Wired that over the years the doodles have evolved becoming an increasingly everyday reality for users. Google has decided to start celebrating historical events or characters in order to inspire and intrigue users. From the first doodle created – in 1998 to celebrate the festival edition Burning Man which takes place in the Nevada desert – to the most recent, you can clearly see how these have evolved, also thanks to the technological progress that has allowed designers to work better and better digitally.

The first Google doodle, dated 1998 (image: Google)

While Google initially showed its special logos on very rare occasions, Big G now programs annually tra i 380 e 390 doodle. Not all doodles are visible globally: holidays such as July 4th, Independence Day for the United States, June 2nd, the Italian Republic Day, are celebrated by Google only locally.

Doodles are a window into curiosity“, Explained Cruickshank,”are meant to educate and entertain leaving users the freedom to explore the celebrated topic“. The doodle, in fact, as is well known, allow you to quickly reach a series of search results related to the main topic.

The creation of a doodle starts first of all – who would have thought – from the Google logo, with which artists have to play to conceive the drawing or animation. Once the initial concept has been devised, the path can be completed quickly or it may require other steps, depending on the format chosen in the creative phase. If the final doodle will be a static drawing, it will be up to the artist on duty to design the final product, color it and deliver it to Google. In the case of an animation or an interactive doodle, the work is carried out by a team composed of about ten engineers, animators, designers and programmers and, if there were also sounds, by musicians or sounds designer.

I usually start sketching the design on a piece of paper starting with the Google logo”Says Cruickshank. “It is first of all necessary to identify clearly identifiable characteristics that belong to the character or event celebrated. in the case of Margherita Hack, the L from Google immediately seemed perfect to be transformed into a telescope. The two O’s of the logo then became the 8558 meteorite she discovered and a window on the starry sky”, Continues Metthew. “The creative process then pushes us to evaluate multiple versions, to create what will ultimately be the definitive doodle. It will then be up to the engineers or animators to make everything more appealing ”.

My favorite remains what I did for celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Dr Who series. A mini-game where every time the player fails and loses a life, the game character comes back to life by changing his appearance exactly like the Doctor in the TV series”, Continues to tell us about the doodle art lead.

For Cruickshank, an animated doodle has an edge because animation helps develop a story and to better tell the event or the life of a character. However, this does not prevent us from making static doodles that are equally impactful, such as the one dedicated to Margherita Hack or the one that Google showed on the first day of the European football championships.

The doodles are small works of art and chatting with their creator inevitably ended up touching the subject Nft. Will these digital works of art ever be auctioned as NFT? Cruickshank’s response fully reflects Google’s commitment to become one company increasingly respectful of the environment. “NFTs are a wonderful gimmick for the digital art world but until they respect the environment I doubt Google will think about auctioning their doodles. when this technology was carbon-free I do not exclude that charity auctions can be organized”.

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