I design the daily doodle you see on Google.com. This is how I became the art director of the world’s most visited website.

Angelique McKinley.
  • Angelica McKinley, 35, is an art director on Google’s Doodle team.
  • She spends her day researching various artists and brainstorming ideas for covering big events.
  • This is what his career has been like, as freelance writer Perri Ormont Blumberg recounted.

This essay as told is based on a conversation transcribed with Angelique McKinley, a 35-year-old art director at Google in San Francisco, Calif., about her career. It has been edited for length and clarity.

When you go to Google.com to search for something, Doodles are the temporary artistic modifications of its logo that you will see celebrating events, historical achievements and personalities from around the world. I like to call them the “welcome mat” of Google search because I want everyone to feel seen and heard no matter what brings them to our home page.

Google’s “Celebrating Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde” doodle, created by guest artist Loris Lora.

I’ve always been a creative person, but my mom inspired me on this path – she’s the most important artist in my life. Growing up, she often drew with my siblings and I or took us to art stores to buy supplies. She even bought me my first calligraphy set, just because I told her it was something that interested me.

As I grew older, I learned that my mother was not pursuing a career in art because a high school guidance counselor told her to go into more stable and lucrative fields such as engineering or nursing. nurses. It marked me a lot and I made the decision to continue what makes me curious, fills me with light and above all pushes me to continue learning.

Following my own curiosity and being willing to take a risk has served me well

Over the years, what has sustained my admiration and inspiration is the work of various artists and designers who share their stories through their art and, in turn, broaden our collective perspectives. It’s this type of art that drives me to tell stories that highlight experiences of gender, race, ethnicity, and accessibility through Google Doodle.

I graduated in advertising from Hampton University, a historically black college and university in Virginia, in 2008, and worked for 10 years as an editorial art director, designer, and consultant on print and print products. digital for news agencies before switching to technology.

In 2011, I left a full-time design position to take on a contract position at the New York Times which allowed me to test my creativity to its fullest potential, and worked at the NYT in various roles in the industry. printing and web design and graphics. until 2017. It was there that I met Bernadette Dashiell, the former artistic director of the New York Times, who mentored me and showed me that I could be an artistic director. I then worked at Apple and Slack for a short time.

In 2019 my goal was reached when I joined the Google Doodle team as Art Director

A friend and former colleague reached out to me about the art director role after seeing our Doodles manager, Jessica Yu, post it online, and we coordinated from there. Oddly, at the same time, another member of the Google team contacted me to interview for a position. I decided Doodles was where I wanted to focus my maintenance efforts, and the rest is history.

Due to my experience in editorial art direction and years of delivering creative and visual solutions on time, I was able to step into this role. In addition, my own personal culture of various illustrators, my journalistic research and writing skills, as well as my knowledge of black history and culture have proven to be invaluable assets as Doodles expands the work we do. are doing with various subjects and external guest artists.

During my early days, I was given a project, but my computer and software were not immediately available. I decided this wasn’t going to stop me, so I went back to my trusted pen and paper and started drawing. It was the World Cup Day 1 Image, and I decided to use figures from each of the countries moving towards a centered soccer ball. I even printed the country-specific illustrations, cut out figures and glued them onto my drawings to create a collage. It taught me that being able to get an idea across clearly is often more important than the format of how you present it.

I wear many hats so no two days are the same

As Art Director, I am responsible for conceptualizing artistic ideas for Doodle topics, visual strategy and design. This includes presenting creative topics and solutions, researching and proposing guest artists, providing artistic advice, and building production or social media assets. I also work closely with designers and UX engineering to ensure a great user experience for our video and interactive Doodles.

In addition, I pride myself on researching, conceptualizing and strategizing on how we present ourselves for certain recurring topics like Juneteenth as well as specific and one-off Doodles. Most of my mornings are spent on this and researching guest artists before moving on to other tasks.

Being a good storyteller can often take you beyond your technical skills.

We all use storytelling to understand ourselves and the world around us – it’s what makes us human. Creative careers can be very powerful when we harness that or develop new ways to help humanize a person, a new policy, or even a new product. Even technology needs people who can tell stories, just like we need engineers for software or hardware.

This also concerns the general skills of a professional. You never know how and when you will see people in this industry again and in what capacity, so remember how to give your own story a voice and always respect the story of others.

When it comes to technical skills, it’s important to have a good grasp of the basics of art and design, including alignment, repetition, contrast, hierarchy, and balance. Of course, color, human anatomy, and conceptual ideation are also needed to make this work.

The Doodle team and our guest artists use a range of programs such as Google Slides, Adobe Creative Suite, Procreate, Sketch, Figma, and Blender. While I don’t think you need to be an expert in all of these areas, it’s important to be curious and learn what each one does and its limitations.

Overall, an art director needs to be able to move between different programs to build consensus around ideas, produce those ideas, and work with artists in whatever medium they choose, be it digital or analog.


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