2 images

SDF 2020: Google Art Director Matthew Cruickshank on the Tech Giant's Famous Doodles

3 February 2020 • Written by Miranda Blazeby

Google’s art director Matthew Cruickshank has lifted the lid on his career as the artist responsible for the eye-catching daily doodles that adorn Google’s famous logo.

Speaking at BOAT International’s Superyacht Design Festival, Cruickshank reflected on his career, which began with a “very traditional background” in life drawing before he took a degree in hand-drawn 2D animation.

He began working at Warner Brothers and Disney where he learned how to inject “life and energy and movement into art” as well as “how to see and record life”.

Speaking at the event, Cruickshank said: “We’re being bombarded by these shapes and colours and proportions and scales every day and I just try and record that the best I can to record the world around me and possibly use it in future designs.”

Following a successful stint at the animation studio, Cruickshank went freelance in 2009 to start a blog of his work that soon caught the eye of tech giant Google,

“Google contacted me and saw my work and invited me to go and work for them,” he said. It was a pivotal moment for Cruickshank who, at the time, was still “trying to work out who I was and what my own thumbprint was”.

His first Google doodle, which celebrated Indian Independence Day, depicted a vivid tiger with “Google” hidden amongst its orange and black stripes.

It was followed by a succession of memorable doodles, including drawings that celebrated the 150th anniversary of the London Underground and the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France.

As Cruickshank’s career at Google progressed, the company became more experimental, pushing into animations, short films and interactive games, some of which can take up to four months to complete.

These included a stylistic game marking the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who in 2013.

One personal highlight for Cruickshank however was when he was tasked with creating the doodle celebrating Earth Day in 2018.

Cruickshank approached anthropologist Jane Goodall to take part in the doodle. The experience of working with her has helped influence his key tips for designers, specifically to immerse yourself in your client’s lifestyle and environment.

“After spending an afternoon with her, I knew exactly what I wanted to do whereas I didn’t beforehand and I was getting kind of stressed and anxious about how I was going to bring her world to life,” he explained.

“I went to meet her and she told some good stories and within an hour we had the whole thing set up, so I think it’s really important wherever possible to understand what you’re celebrating and understand the people that are involved.”

Cruickshank finished his presentation by imparting his design top tips to the audience of superyacht owners.

This included beginning designs on post-it notes to help encourage clarity.

“All of our designs are started that way,” he explained. “Easy to discard, if it doesn’t work throw it away, it’s quick sketches and very easy,” he explained.

Matthew Cruickshank’s How to Design Superyachts like a Google Designer Top Tips

  • Always focus on detail
  • Don’t forget the bigger picture
  • Keep things in proportion
  • Crystallise ideas using the post-it note test
  • Trust your team and use them
  • Immerse yourself in the client’s lifestyle and environment
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes