In August of last year, Google users went onto the search engine-giant’s homepage and found an antique television with the recognizable heart from the I Love Lucy show plastered onto the website’s stark white canvas.
Such interactive pieces of artwork are called a “Google Doodle” and everybody who uses the Internet’s top search engine has surely seen one since the company started doodling in 1998.
The Lucy doodle in particular came from the creative mind of former Long Islander and Google employee Jennifer Hom, who has done hundreds of doodles since the California-based company hired her in 2009.
“I grew up watching I Love Lucy,” she told the Press in a phone interview this week. “I remember when I was kid I would just spend my summer in my living room watching marathons of it.”
And that’s where Hom, 24, who now lives in Mountain View, Calif., said the doodlers get their inspiration. (Yes, her job title is “doodler”)
They go back to “stuff that made us happy when we were kids,” Hom explained, and the gang of doodlers talk it over during a“creative meeting, draw on whiteboards and post its, contact the right people, and after all the hard work is done, Google puts it up for millions to see.
The idea is to “celebrate something we really love,” she said, though anything that’s “geeky” and “nerdy” works too, Hom explained.
Hom grew up on Long Island and graduated from the East Meadow School District. Her family has a history of artists and creative thinkers so it was inevitable that she would end up being an artist for a living. But instead of her work hanging in a small art gallery, there’s a good chance millions of people will see her doodle online.
“It’s really fun,” she said, before contemplating how many people actually check out her doodle’s. “Its kind of strange, I’m not really used to more than 40 people at once looking at my work.”
The I Love Lucy doodle added so much steam to the celebration of what would’ve been Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday that the Internet was flooded with people looking for quotes and video clips from the popular 50s sitcom.
Google Doodle’s have become so popular that news organizations (like this one) sometimes write stories about the doodle. The Google crew has even opened a doodle store where users can buy shirts.
Since 2005, Google has been running a competition, dubbed “Doodle for Google,” in which students from K-12 can submit their artwork and have the opportunity to have their doodle appear on Google’s homepage. Submissions for this year’s competition ends on March 23, and the winner will be announced during an award ceremony in New York on May 17.
As for Hom, she said the best part of the job is being “charged to do whatever is going to be interesting and that can go way outside the bounds of traditional drawings.”
On Wednesday, Google revealed their Leap Year doodle, which also celebrates Gioachino Rossini’s 220th birthday.
Before the doodle went live, Hom said Wednesday’s doodle is “a pretty silly and playful doodle.”
“It’s been really fun,” Hom said of her experience as a doodler, “its been really overwhelming.”