By Aren Kalash
Flying cars. Teleportation. Time travel. A cure for cancer. World peace. Kanye for President.
For this year’s Doodle 4 Google art competition, students in kindergarten to twelfth grade were given the prompt, “What I see for the future…”. In its ninth year hosting the competition, Google offers a wide range of prizes for young artists who submit innovative reinterpretations of the search engine’s logo. Participants were allowed to use materials of their choice to design their doodle and were required to write a brief, fifty word description of their submission. Many South students submitted doodles for the contest, which closed on Dec. 2. Students in Mrs. Lisa Stancati’s Studio I Art class this year were asked to draw ideas for the competition as a sketchbook assignment. Mrs. Stancati explained, “I like this contest because it gets students to think about global issues and urges them to express their ideas on paper. For classroom purposes it’s a good exercise.” While many students preferred to draw their logos with colored pencils and markers, a handful of students even used their iPads to integrate cool digital effects.
For her submission, senior Heidi Chang drew a technological scene depicting her futuristic vision of artificial intelligence and space colonization. Chang said, “I used to enter the Doodle 4 Google competition annually in elementary school as an optional project. At the time, I never really expected to win. As a senior, I enjoyed giving it another try.”
Head of the Google Doodle team, Ryan Germick, encourages artists to carefully choose their messages and try their best to communicate them well through the logo design. Thus, the most colorful and elaborate drawings may not be as effective as simpler pieces.
Doodle 4 Google recognizes individual state and territory winners, four national finalists, and one national winner. The grand prize includes a $30,000 scholarship, a $50,000 school technology award, and a Chromebook. The national winner will also have his/her artwork displayed on the Google homepage for an entire day. The other national finalists win $5,000 scholarships and all winners receive Android tablets. Doodle 4 Google has also been held internationally, in countries including India, Ireland, Vietnam, New Zealand, Russia, and Canada. Last year, tenth grader Akilah Johnson from Washington D.C. won with a Black Lives Matter inspired piece, in response to the theme “What makes me…me”. Long Island also had its claim to fame in 2014 when eleven-year-old Audrey Zhang from Levittown had her drawing featured on the search engine’s main page.
Although South hasn’t had any semifinalists yet, Mrs. Stancati is optimistic. “No doodle is the same, which is why I submit each and every one. We had some really good pieces this year.”
For a chance at the spotlight, your doodle must first be chosen as a state winner after passing through a panel of guest judges. In the past, some notable judges included Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, journalist Katie Couric, authors Rick Riordan and Lemony Snicket, and singer Katy Perry. After this stage, voting is then opened to the public, where people choose their favorite submissions from each grade category (K-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-12). Of the five remaining finalists, one national winner is announced around February/March.
However, Mrs. Stancati is not all that concerned about students winning. “This contest is inherently very competitive since it’s on a national scale. I believe kids should get as creative as they want and just let their imaginations flow. Nothing is out of bounds.”