Kids can show their art to billions with ‘Doodle for Google’

Most of us use Google on a regular basis and are familiar with their homepage. The corporate logo usually appears in its primary hues of blue, red, yellow, and green, but it’s often updated with a creative twist. The team at Google frequently changes its logo to illustrate notable events, and the lives of famous artists, pioneers, and scientists; this is referred to as a Google Doodle — an art form that has a surprisingly long history.

The idea for doodles originated in 1998 when co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin wanted to let people know their attendance at Burning Man. It was meant as a humorous “out of office” message to Google users — just in case the servers crashed. And ever since they added the Burning Man stick figure logo behind the 2nd “o” in the word Google, the idea of adding colourful graphics to customize the search engine’s logo has taken off.

Over the years, Google Doodles have evolved from subtle tweaks to the logo, to entire illustrations, animations, and even playable games. Today, Google has an entire team of illustrators (known as doodlers) that have created 4,000+ designs for Google homepages around the world.

The Doodle for Google competition

Google doesn’t always feature the work of its in-house doodlers. In fact, the team is sometimes looking for new ideas from users. Each year, young US-based artists in grades K-12 are invited to submit their Google Doodle ideas based on a theme for that year, giving young creatives a platform to share their artwork for a day with billions around the world.

The 12th annual Doodle for Google contest is currently open for submissions until March 13, 2020, at 8:00 pm PST.

Kids submit drawings to Google
The Doodle for Google winner, 2019. By Arantza Peña Popo.

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!”

Winners are placed on the Google homepage for a day
The Doodle for Google winner, 2018. By Sarah Gomez-Lane.

How to enter

US-based kids can enter online or by mail until March 13, 2020, at 8:00 pm PST. Students can work with any material, but submissions must be entered using the entry form. If you’re in grades K-12, or you’re someone who wants to help someone enter the competition, follow these simple steps:

  1. Download instructions and entry form here.
  2. Get creative by making a doodle in the medium of your choice.
  3. Write an artist statement to tell Google about your work.
  4. 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.

The Doodle for Google contest
The Doodle for Google winner, 2016. By Akilah Johnson.
Google doodles by students K-12
The Doodle for Google winner, 2014. By Audrey Zhang.

Entries will be judged based on artistic skillcreativity, and ability to communicate the theme of kindness.

Google Doodle winning entries

The judges will select the best doodles from each of the 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands as the State and Territory winners. These winners will also be displayed in an online gallery on the Doodle for Google website, where the public will be given 5 days to vote for their favourite and help determine the National Finalists for each grade group.

National Finalists will have their doodles featured on the Doodle for Google gallery, plus they will receive a US$5,000 college scholarship, a trip to Google headquarters in California, Google hardware, and Google merchandise. The National winner’s artwork, however, will be displayed on for one day. He or she will also receive a US$30,000 college scholarship, a US$50,000 technology package for their school, a trip to Google headquarters in California, Google hardware, and Google merchandise.

Finally, 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? Unfortunately, it’s only open to US residents, who can enter here.