Most of us are familiar with the Google homepage—it might even be the first web page you see when you open your browser. And while you might usually see the corporate Google logo in primary hues of blue, red, yellow, and green, it’s often updated with a creative twist. The Google team frequently changes its logo to illustrate notable events, and the lives of famous artists, pioneers, and scientists. This is called a Google Doodle: an art form that has a surprisingly long history.
The idea for doodles originated in 1998, before the company was even incorporated. Larry Page and Sergey Brin wanted to indicate their attendance at Burning Man, as a humorous “out of office” message to Google users—just in case the servers crashed. They added the Burning Man stick figure logo behind the 2nd “o” in the word Google. Since then, the idea of adding colorful graphics to customize the iconic search engine’s logo has taken off. Google now has an entire team of illustrators (known as doodlers) that have created over 4,000 designs for Google homepages around the world. Over the years, Google Doodles have evolved from subtle tweaks to the logo, to entire illustrations, animations, and even playable games.
The Doodle for Google Competition
Google doesn’t always feature the work of their in-house doodlers—the team is occasionally on the lookout for new ideas from users. Each year, young U.S.-based artists in grades K-12 are invited to submit their Google Doodle ideas based on a theme. The 12th annual Doodle for Google contest is now open for submissions, and gives young creatives a platform to share their artwork for a day with billions around the world.
This Year’s Theme
The 2020 Doodle for Google theme is: “I show kindness by…” Participating kids are invited to visualize what kindness means to them. They can use any material to create their design—the only requirement is that their drawing must incorporate the letters G-o-o-g-l-e.
“As submissions open, we’re inviting young artists in grades K-12 to open up their creative hearts and show us how they find ways to be kind,” says Jessica Yu, Doodle Team Lead. “Starting a community garden? Standing up for a friend being bullied? Doing chores around the home? How you interpret the theme is up to you!”
How to Enter
This year’s contest is open for online and mailed entries until March 13, 2020 at 8:00pm PST. Students can work with any material, but submissions must be entered using the entry form. If you’re a U.S.-based student in grades K-12, or you’re someone who wants to help someone enter the competition, follow these simple steps:
- Download instructions and entry form here.
- Get creative by making a doodle in the medium of your choice.
- Write an artist statement to tell Google about your work.
- Fill out the rest of the required information on the entry form.
You can draw your doodle directly on the entry form, or simply paste it in place and mail it to the address listed on the form. You can also enter the competition online, by uploading your design as a high-res digital photo or scan it as a .jpg or .png.
Entries will be judged based on artistic skill, creativity, and ability to communicate the theme of kindness.
Finalists will be judged on a state-by-state basis and grouped into 5 grade groups (Grades K-3, Grades 4-5, Grades 6-7, Grades 8-9, Grades 10-12).
The judges will select the best doodles from each of the 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands as the State and Territory Winners. These 54 State and Territory Winners will be displayed in an online gallery on the Doodle for Google website, where the public will be given 5 days to vote for their favorite. These votes will help determine the National Finalists for each grade group. The panel will then choose one of the five National Finalists and announce the National Winner in June 2020.
The National Winner’s artwork will be displayed on Google.com for one day, and he or she will also receive a $30,000 college scholarship, a $50,000 technology package for their school, a trip to Google headquarters in California, Google hardware, and Google merchandise.
National Finalists will have their doodles featured on the Doodle for Google gallery, plus they will receive a $5,000 college scholarship, a trip to Google headquarters in California, Google hardware, and Google merchandise.
State and Territory Winners
State and Territory Winners will also be able to see their work featured on the Doodle for Google gallery, plus they'll receive Google hardware and merch.
Feeling inspired? Enter here and check out some of the previous winners on the next page.