A Doodler’s Tale

 
Now the lead Google Doodler, Ryan Germick has had a storied road to Silicon Valley, and it all started at The New School. Photo by Andrew Bender.

Now the lead Google Doodler, Ryan Germick has had a storied road to Silicon Valley, and it all started at The New School. Photo by Andrew Bender.

As the head of Google’s Doodle team, Ryan Germick has one of the coolest jobs in the world. His days often consist of brainstorming new ways of giving the huge tech giant personality, in the form of Doodles. These drawings and sometimes-interactive changes to the Google logo —like the game celebrating the Roswell UFO’s 66th anniversary—have come a long way since the original founders played with it to signal their attendance of the 1998 Burning Man Festival. A large part of the evolution is thanks to Germick.

The Parsons and Eugene Lang College graduate first stood at the doorstep of the world’s most popular search engine in 2006, back when tweaking the logo with images from Clip Art was the norm. Germick was a few years out of college—with a dual degree in creative writing and illustration—and Google was the first place he applied. He credits much of his success, as well as the road he took to get there, to the intellectual curiosity and artistic skills he developed while at The New School.

“The ability to flip between the creative process at Parsons and the academic pursuits at Lang set me up to be a life-long learner,” said Germick. “Those intensive years at both divisions really fostered my professional growth.”

So did the internship program Lang offered. While in school, Germick interned at the television stationTHIRTEEN/WNET and the interactive design company Funny Garbage. Upon graduating, he stayed on at Lang for another two years as the college’s webmaster, and even redid the internship program website, adding a personal touch: a “goofy cartoon mascot.”

These past educational experiences continue to guide Germick’s career. “The New School gives students the opportunity to learn and live the creative process,” he explains. “You start with the spark of an idea, translate it into mock-ups and illustrations, and then get feedback from your peers. This creates a cyclical democratic process. Even if I was a doctor, that would still help me.”

At Google, Germick has found “a ton of opportunities to be a weirdo.” His unique ability to think as both an artist and an engineer allow him to reimagine Doodles as interactive and engaging platforms for developing technology. One example is the Doodle he helped design in May 2011 to celebrate the history of modern dance. In tribute to Martha Graham, a New School creative arts pioneer, the Doodle incorporates some of her signature moves to trace the letters of the Google logo. “That one took months to perfect,” Germick recalls. “We filmed a dancer from the Martha Graham Dance Company,eventually stacking illustrated representations of her on top of each other like a flipbook.”

Germick has helped oversee the creation of more than a thousand Doodles during the last seven years, exposing users worldwide to figures and phenomena that have shaped our culture. At the same time, his team of ten must keep the global context of the Web search engine in mind, ensuring the Doodles they create resonate with the diverse audience. To Germick, the Doodles help Google fulfill its identity as “your nerdy friend who just wants to share stuff.” And when asked which is his favorite, he hesitates, then says, “The best is always yet to come.”