'Doodle 4 Google': Art contest kicks off with a Katy Perry bonus
"Doodle 4 Google," an art contest in which kids compete to put their own stamp on the Google home page logo, has begun, and pop star Katy Perry will be among those determining whose doodle ends up in the spotlight.
Chief doodler Ryan Germick says, "This is my favorite time of year." Germick, one of the artists at Google who create the increasingly popular logos, talked to the Los Angeles Times on Thursday about some of the changes to the annual contest.
The number of finalists has grown from 40 to 50, with one from each state. Those finalists, in four age categories from kindergarten through 12th grade, are winnowed down to a single national winner, who will pocket a $30,000 scholarship. His or her school also will receive a $50,000 technology grant.
The national winner's doodle (his or her rendition of the company logo) will be featured May 18 on the Google home page. Last year, Google received 107,000 submissions -- that's compared with 16,000 entries when the contest kicked off in 2008.
The theme for the contest this year is time travel: "If I could travel in time, I'd visit ..." Kids should fill in that blank with their artwork, Germick said. Then they can submit their creations by mailing them or -- another 2012 first -- they can submit their artwork digitally.
Guest judges for the contest this year include Katy Perry, Jordin Sparks and "Phineas and Ferb" creator Jeff "Swampy" Marsh. After the guest judges choose the 50 state winners, the artwork will be shown online beginning May 2 for a public vote to determine the national champ.
The 50 kids will be flown to New York for the awards ceremony on May 17. That's where, Germick said, the young artists mix with the doodlers and other guests, maybe even Perry. A Google spokeswoman said the hope was that "most of our guest judges will be able to attend" the ceremony.
That's "the big event," Germick said. "The kids are ... so excited, so fun, so nervous." They create an aura of excitement "and then just swim in it."
If the kids are ecstatic, the doodlers are pretty jazzed too. "For us, there's no greater inspiration," he said. "They're the real deal. They draw straight from the heart."
State winners will have their artwork displayed over the summer at the New York Public Library.
Contest rules and entry forms can be found at the Doodle 4 Google website.
-- Amy Hubbard
Image: The winning artwork from 2011 by Matteo Lopez of California. Credit: Google