Black History Month 2021: A focus on business
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the United States Patent and Trademark office, 2021 Black History Month celebration. My name is Dennis Forbes in the office of Innovation Outreach, for the office of the Chief Communication officer. This program is being recorded and your computers are on mute. Please use the chat box to ask questions.
On behalf of Drew Hirshfeld, acting director of the USPTO, again I welcome you. It is now my pleasure to introduce today's moderator, Ian Simmons. A supervisor patent examiner in the design technology center. Ian? Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to our presentation. We have an exciting event today. We get to focus on business featuring two fantastic artists and art director.
Angelica McKinley is an art director at Google and the cartoonist Liz Montague who created the doodle for the Google’s digital platform. Ms. McKinley is an art director on the Google doodle team. She has collaborated with seasoned and pioneered artists to produce doodles that are featured on the Google home page all around the globe. In 2020 she led a creative directive Google Juneteenth doodle and Ms.
McKinley has worked with notable artists such as Liz Montague, Loveis Wise, and Levar Burton to name a few. Elizabeth or Liz Montague is a cartoonist and illustrator whose work focus on social awareness. As a cartoonist her work has been featured in the New Yorker several times and she has illustrated for Google, the food network, and the U.S. open.
In addition Ms. Montague has been profiled by the Today show, ABC news, and the Washington Post. As well as several other media outlets.
Welcome. Let's get started everybody. Angelica, can you tell the audience about some of your career highlights as an art director? Hello everyone.
Super excited to be here today. As art director and designer my career has gone through lots of turns and twists. I actually started off in editorial design.
Working at newspapers in small places like in Jacksonville, Mississippi and Roanoke, Virginia. So I eventually got to New York Times and I spent about seven years there on print and eventually digital design and art direction. I was able to art direct projects as 100 years of wedding announcements at the New York Times. One of the first issues of the New York Times featured a wedding announcement. We were able to profile such characters as Ida B.
Wells and other forgotten heroes who had wedding announcements in the paper. We were able to illustrate those and work with multiple illustrators. I have worked on projects like the hyphenated American, and the launch of the New York Times race related newsletter. Which we also try to do a lot of visual work. Surrounding a storytelling related to race. One of my favorite projects was Harriet Tubman's path to freedom.
We were able to use drone footage to capture parts of Maryland through which Harriet Tubman traversed to bring people to Canada. Also, I have been an art director at Apple news. Art director and product designer working on the launch of Apple news plus. Where they were able to bring in magazine publishers BusinessWeek and Traveler All of those brands.
And help them optimize their visuals and stories for mobile apps audience. I also worked on the redesign of slack.com. And lead that from a digital perspective as well as working with an illustrator to help define new illustration style. And I would also say some highlights for me are having Oprah actually look at some of the layouts and design work that I have done. Even though I could not see her face myself but just knowing that my work was in front of her makes me super happy. Thanks.
Fantastic. Thank you very much. Liz, would you like to tell the audience a few highlights about your career as well? As a cartoonist and as an artist. This Google doodle is probably top highlight.
I am not going to lie. I definitely felt like I was on the mountaintop and that moment. I am a contributing cartoonist for the New Yorker. That has been cool. I got to work with the Biden presidential campaign in collaboration with Stacey Abrams during the 2020 election cycle. I have worked with student networks U.S.
Open the Obama foundation, I have gotten to do a lot of cool stuff. Now I am in the children books phase. That's fun.
I'm writing and illustrating two books for Random House currently. All of that. Congratulations. That is amazing. Now we will open the program up to start the initial inspiration. What inspiration did you go through to start this Google presentation? For Google's international platform? This is for Angelica.
I want to walk you guys through the history of global doodle. So you know where we started from and where we are now. Which I would say definitely has changed. You guys are looking at all of these various doodles on the screen now. I wonder if you can pick out which one was the first one.
It has the Google colors in the logo. Our first Google doodle was actually burning man. As you can see it features the exact logo from back in the 90s.
There is even an exclamation point at the end. Basically the first doodle was created two years after the company was created. By Sergio.
And his partner named Larry. Also, they were going out of the office. They were going to the burning Man festival.
I'm not sure if you're familiar with that. It's a festival held out in the desert that lots of people in California attend. It is like to get away from everything. Get away from jobs.
There's not a lot of technology there. People are coming together to escape from everyday life. They put this up as a going out of office message. This was about a year before the company was about to be incorporated.
It went from being in a dorm room at Stanford two years prior, and they were just about to incorporate Google. As people have said this is the doodle or artwork that launched 1000 doodles. From there we definitely defined more about what a doodle is and what we hope to do. My role on the doodle team and although the doodler's, what we boil it down to is that we are creating connection with users through technology. It is a space for us to really sort of focus on the emotional and more creative side of technology. Especially when you think of a company like Google and data centric.
We found the six areas that we really have focused on for doodles being inclusive. You will see a range of topics today you would not see at the beginning. Inspiring, delight, surprise and curiosity. We like to keep the doodles under wraps until they launch. Part of that surprise is definitely inherent in the product itself.
We want it to be a space to highlight technology and art advancements. Bringing in different artist like Liz who has a different perspective, and working with different technologies like when we go through the Jackie Ormes slide show today. Are feats we are trying to highlight. Creating meaningful relevance around that time. Lately we have been doing more response doodles. When there was, this year there was something with the planets with Saturn and we partnered with NASA on that.
Two years ago there was a black hole doodle that we did. We will partner with places on those. We want to show up for the moment. For me one of those big moments was Juneteenth last year. I was happy how we were to able to create meaningful relevance around that time. And number five Highlighting search and discovery features.
We are constantly, search is a legacy product at this age. You may not know but it is the oldest part of Google's business. At times we do want to spotlight some of the interesting things we are doing with search. One part of our business now, is delight.
I don't know if any of you have seen fresh Prince turned 20 last year? We did a special thing on the search landing page. We sort of have a hand in those. Lastly reflecting our culture and passions. Google as the logo can show you is a very, I want to say flexible kind of place.
Also, open to various different ideas. And wants to be in an inclusive environment. It is a place to highlight that, and to highlight the values that we want to uphold.
Fantastic, thank you. It is interesting insight into Google and how it became to where it is now. Thank you. Thank you to the insight to what took place during the initial meeting when you first started talking about the Google doodle.
Yes, one of the parts I want to talk about his and our director is to give you guys insights into the conversations that even happen right before we talked to Liz. Even before I made this a full-time career, people would be like what is an art director? It is a person who makes things look pretty or whatnot. How is that different than an artist. Definitely a lot of my job is to help people on the team and help our stakeholders understand what the project could be. The possibilities of the project and what are the most important aspects of it. Can you expand on who Jackie Ormes is? Maybe some of our audience are not familiar with who Jackie Ormes is.
Let me do that. Basically the way that doodle works is that me as an art director and doodler's on the team can definitely submit topics that we are super passionate about. We also have an internal network and process with getting proposals.
When we go through the proposal process different names will come up and we will think about what we want to do for the year. Obviously thinking about gender and racial equity as much as possible. Once again this is international.
We are not just doing doodles in the U.S. We are doing doodles around the world specific to topics around the world. I'm constantly working with artists from anywhere in Indonesia to Japan or Korea or Kenya Ghana Nigeria. Russia, Germany, guess. They have totally run the gamut. When we think about U.S.
doodles obviously that is our biggest market. When I saw that Jackie Ormes was on the calendar I was super excited. That she had been pitched and she had actually been approved through our process.
Part of the reason that we highlight influential people and in particular with Jackie when I thought she was super important was that she hit on this area that I don't like feel we see a lot on the Google platform. She was a black woman who was an artist. That was a representation we don't see a lot.
Also, she was a craftsman and just worked within a skill. In being able to place her in an environment as a skilled professional. And how much our world and our country and our entertainment is so focused on comments comics right now with Marvel and DC.
With Black Panther I felt like it was another opportunity to highlight a key figure who people did not know much about. Even in my art classes we did not discuss a lot of the black Trail Blazers. Except -- because I went to HBCU. We have more focus on it in our everyday portions of things. Also, when I became a professional I wasn't hearing about Jackie. I started my career in editorial design.
Jackie was a comics artist. Who worked for Black publications. She wasn't someone who was referenced often. It was also at a time where I was having conversations about representation and artwork and comics for black characters.
When you think about comics like the peanuts, or Charlie Brown, or even South Park, how they play on the name token. We need to be there supporting characters. People like Jackie, and please believe she is not the only one. As I have learned in the process of working on her. These were people who did not have us as these side characters.
They fully embodied us in their artwork. They fully allowed us to be our glorious selves. To aspire to finer things or be sophisticated. To be skilled and have love affairs and romances. They were people who epitomized that.
Jackie definitely does and really put not only her time like being in the 20s 30s 40s, the also put herself in those comics. You can see some of those. One highlight about her style of comics or two I wanted to call out is that she focused on women protagonist.
Which wasn't a big thing back in the day. Event for Black publications like the Chicago defender or the Pittsburgh Courier. Her pitching that and being able to do that for those years is super important to storytelling. Also with her female characters they were not shy or timid. They were pretty sassy and had great personalities.
They were educated and going to school. They were very modern. He could even look back today and relate to them.
I felt like they had a strong sense of self. There was an over reliance on men. How you could think about the early Disney movies or whatnot. They were very independent.
You will see there is one where she slaps this guy for saying something kind of off-the-cuff. If you want to go through and show the slides of her artwork I think it would be fun for people to see. How quickly can a doodle come together if a current event happens and Google were to understand that Jackie Ormes is an amazing artist and cartoonist. She's the first black African-American cartoonist.
How quickly can a doodle come together for a current event as opposed to something that is more historical like this? For a current event it could be anywhere from a day turnaround. Some of the ones around a death, we also started honoring very high profile heads of states deaths. With very simple a grayed out logo. That with any artwork. That could be a day turnaround. We have our in-house artists for that.
When it comes to the Jackie Ormes doodle or things like that we are looking anywhere from six weeks to let's say two months or three months. If it was a video. If we get into more of our interactive's, like the games we have done. We did loteria Which is a Mexican game that is with cards. It is super fun.
Or we also do sports centered games. Those will take anywhere from six months to a year to fully execute. One thing I want to recall about Jackie story that I thought was interesting, especially for black people in depicting black people as I am sure Liz can also talk about, on this slide right here one of the things I want to call out about her story and made a point of putting in our blog post is she used things called zipatones to actually depict black skin and black and white comics. When you look at television shows or when you look at movies of certain eras and even in some movies and TV shows today how our skin is depicted can be very poor. Especially in different lighting.
This speaks to the ingenuity that I think black people have always had to have. In terms of how we are depicted and how our skin tone shows up. Being in tune with the printing process to be able to use those dots in that type of way. Thank you.
Her comics, the way she rendered some of the women, the little childs name or daughters name, or sister, they looked very inspirational for when this was created. It was definitely a two sisters duo. The pinup sister is always silent and the other sister is always talking. She liked to play off that dynamic of having this younger sister say these kind of large things. Also what was big about Jackie story was that she was not afraid to bring up the racial issues of that time. She did not hide away from it.
One of my favorite panels of her is about the sister duo and the younger sister says something to the effect of like, I don't mean to say anything about this right now, but I think that white tea kettle just whistled at me. It was a reference to Emmett Till. The whole incident that went down when he left Chicago and went south. This whole white woman said that it happened. And it ended up not being true so many years later. I love she was so fearless.
In being able to try to tackle that. Even at a black paper. I'm sure no matter where you were creating this type of narrative from it was still very difficult. We Have a question from the chat room. They asked about the zipatone. Whether or not she was one of the first artists to use that technique to actually render people of color? Are you familiar with that? I Don't think she was the first person.
I definitely think she was among the first. There was another black male comic strip artist that worked at the Chicago defender at that time also was dabbling around with using that. They were definitely among the earliest users of that. Liz, how did you come into this project? How did you start this project working together? Angelica reached out to me. On Instagram which is really cool.
We have been following each other. I had done a cartoon about Jackie before on a platform called the The Nev. A few years prior to that.
I was familiar with her and her work. Games like what my availability was. Then I got the potential email. We are doing a cartoon honoring Jackie Ormes, would you be interested? That is how it started off.
I was super excited because I have followed Liz for a while from my newspaper days. Liz epitomizes, black girl magic. There is such a lightness to her work. I think it is really nice. I think too we get bogged down, and narratives related around suffering or struggled.
I really just love how uplifting her stuff is. Also, just how modern it is. Her commentary and her wit as well. Thanks.
Okay, wow. You started off and you had Jackie Ormes as the initial process. You meet with Liz, how do you guys start the process? How do you get the creative process started? How do you go through that thing to actually move through the concepts all the way through the final presentation of the actual doodle itself? Using Jackie Ormes . Yes, once I was able to convince Liz this was the right thing at the right price we were able to move forward.
I gave her some background on the research I have done. I usually start each one of my doodles of the research phase. It's one of my favorite parts of my job. Digging into research and connecting with the estates.
Really understanding the story. I was able to connect with the biographer that we showed previously in the deck. I distilled that information into sketches. You can see those on the next slide. I also can still did into a concept for my team.
At the moment of bringing in Liz I basically already determined the structure and got approval from our team. I felt like Jackie story had not been told. I did not want to do just a static image.
Which is great. We have done really amazing ones before. I felt like people needed to spend time with her. I wanted to bring out the curiosity and wanted people to look more into her story. I was able to convince our team to do 6 to 8 slides.
If we focused on her personal story, because she really embodied her own characters. I think it would give people more insight. Also if we focused on the artistic craft that she did.
Even when I worked at newspapers and I would try to explain to my mom what I did she would be like so someone designs that part? That is something that someone does? I feel like especially for black people and black women it's important to be able to see these behind the scenes of the roles and a little bit of dropping the veil of what it means to actually do that work. I think what is super great about working with artists and being an art director is they can take your sketches and ideas, and make them into beautiful things. That is definitely what Liz and I were able to do after our initial conversation. You saw my sketches and musings on her life, and how I saw it unfolding across the six slides she was able to run with it. Wow. You have the initial concept and then you have Liz reimagining it and how it ends up in the final doodle.
Go through the processing. How do you handle the copyright of these ultimate images? What are the challenges that came with the process of actually creating the doodle? What is the review process like? Is there a vetting process? Is there an approval process? Can you speak to that some more? Yes. Definitely.
Basically the first thing we do is set up a timeline for the projects. Once she has taken my initial sketches and updated them to her thoughts about how we can visually show it, we basically -- I take that work and start to share with our team and some of our larger stakeholders at the beginning. We have two major checkpoints.
I want to make sure the initial concept is approved. That it is strong and everyone is good with the direction we are going. Once we get to the final artwork, getting those final sign offs on everything.
There are check ins, in the middle. They are a little bit more loose and on making sure the narrative is clear and making sure the artwork is clear. And that we are pretty alive.
I would say the process of working with the states, and working with trademark or copyrights has definitely been one of the most interesting and informative parts of working with doodles in particular. Is a person who came from editorial illustrations, you don't have to go through so many copyright and trademark issues. The news and the first amendment rights of the news are very protective of the things you want to depict. So lets say I wanted to depict Ida B.
Wells. I don't have to go through her state when I'm doing that type of work in the media. Because Google is a corporation, like with Jackie Ormes we had to identify her estate. We had to get them to sign NDA's like we normally do with our artists as well. To just protect the projects from being revealed. We also have to work, we do not pay any estates.
Working on these projects. We do want to make sure they are totally aligned with the project. And that they are on board with it.
And we have the initial check in and the final check in. Especially around a person's likeness. That is one of the most important things the estate typically cares about. I work closely with our business affairs manager on the team. She basically does everything.
She contracts estate work, and works closely with our legal department. One of the things that is difficult with doing this from a corporate standpoint is any type of ideas that me and Liz want to put into the artwork, for example zipatone is an official name. It's a brand name.
I would not be able to use zipatone’s official branding or official design in our artwork. Or if you show some of the slides with the sketches we are definitely not able to use a Museum like Jackie Ormes was on the board of a Museum in Chicago toward the end of her life. To show that Museum we would have to get the rights of the museum and whoever owns the rights there. That process can take quite a bit of time. If I have a doodle that needs to be done in six weeks we may not be able to get all of the copyright or trademark a sign offs for very specific things. The hardest part about that with Jackie was we could not secure the rights to Jackie's characters.
They were going to need a much longer time period for it. We worked with the estate. They were okay with us moving forward with Jackie as her characters.
As opposed to her characters being the main feature. I actually think that worked out for the best. The story is much more focused on her.
It got people curious to go and look for her comics as well as having them in the artwork. That is definitely something that I the artist have to balance. We also cannot really show brand-name like clothing or things like that. I can't totally copy a photograph of Jackie.
We would definitely try to put her in the new orientation and put her in different clothing and show a different angle or a profile of her character design for her face. We definitely have to be very mindful of what copyrights other people own, and how we want to depict the topic. Okay, perfect.
Thank you. Here's a question for Liz. Now that you have the starting point and you know some of the copyright implications, how do you start your part of the process? How do you craft images and sitting down and saying I would like to have a picture of her face? How does that process start? For me the process starts out super rough. Rough scratches, trying to balance the imagery. And getting more refined with each draft. If you go to the next slide you might be able to see the evolution after this one.
The evolution is very sketchy. That was the process for me. Getting told this artist is most known for these characters and what she created, you cannot use any of those characters. it's like okay we will figure this out.
When you haven't balanced enough images and you figure out where the colors are going to be, it is kind of like an I trick. It seems like all the information was there, the visual information without it not necessarily being there. And using Jackie as a stand-in for her character.
and not totally do her style, but pay homage to her cartoon style by how I illustrate her. It is all a balancing act. That was another tough point Liz brought up. We ended up wanting to do a mix of loses and Jackie style so we did not want to fully do all Liz so people would not get a taste of the time period in the style of Jackie. We did not want to lean too much into Jackie style, which once again that gets us into some areas with copyright and how we are showing it.
I feel like Liz did a great job of helping us bridge that. So you still get that dotted pattern on the artwork. You still get a color palette that fills up the time period. Yes, these are challenges we are working through. Liz, when you create your images are you creating them on paper the old-fashioned way with sketches or do you do that on a laptop or a computer? How do you go to the actual process of coming up with the concept? Are the scanned images? Can you explain more about that for our audience? I Work mainly on my iPad.
I use Photoshop to finish up illustrations. Everything had to be put in a certain order. There is an animation aspect to this kind of -- I work mainly digitally. It is more convenient for me. It's better for the environment.
I go through so many drafts. For everyone image I sent to Angelica or even with the final product you see there are 50 other jobs. When everything you do is just tweak a little bit of this and that, it just makes the process much more efficient for me to work digitally. I love working with technology. A big part of this project, this was the first guest artist slideshow we had ever created as a doodle.
Typically the slideshows have only been done in house. Me convincing the team, and Liz and her quick work on turnaround of the sketches and being able to, just being interested in technology and trying something new helped us with being able to get the project done making sure stakeholders were happy with it. There is a technical bridge just with the slideshows. Me and Liz were able to come up with a good working system. Where she could focus on the sketching.
I could really set up the file and get everything aligned. We could just see the visuals together. In videos or screen captures I would send her to make sure everything is lining up, and flowing the way that we want it. I know it is important to capture the essence of Jackie and the style of listen put it together and pay homage to both to respect the character. To respect the artist and the actual person you are going after in coverage.
It definitely makes sense. Now that you are going through this process and creating a doodle do you have a public reaction? Do you post it for review? After you go through the vetting process and it gets ready to go out there does the public respond back? Do they enjoy this image? Can you speak to that as well? If yes, this might be a good time too if you want to show the doodle to everyone. Like the final. While I talk through that. Basically once we wrap up the artwork and Liz gives me her final files, I'm talking about everything.
The nitty-gritty. Once she sends those things to me it is my job to start thinking about all of the surfaces this will appear on. Most of you know about the Google homepage. That has sort of expanded.
Let's say you have started a search already. A lot of times it will pop up easily on your phone and you will go to a search landing page. We have a thing called SRP I will create to help you click on the doodle and entice you. If you are using the apps there are different entry points for it on the apps. If you have an android phone or an iPhone. I re-factor the CTA artwork.
Which is the initial image around those different spaces. To make sure it can show up as in many places as possible. I work with the marketing team. Liz has brought in with the marketing team as well to talk about activation efforts they have around the doodle.
One of the things we were excited about is her biographer provided a never before published image of Jackie for our blog post. We were able to get her to provide significant context for the blog post. Which I also helped to edit and write. Based on my own research and background in journalism. We definitely post on our Twitter page. That's the place you have seen the most from us.
I also cut a video for IG so I can post it and share on my Instagram page. We also work with media outlets. That marketing context and lets them know in advance before the doodle launches. The surprise part, maybe a day or two ahead of time.
So they can create a story around it. If the artist is into it and interested like Liz was they will make connections between press and Liz to chat with them about the doodle. She can give insights into what the process was like. I asked Liz to take pictures of herself in the process. So we can also include, and I think that was really fun.
I loved Liz's picture with her IG. This is what you see posted. This is what it really looks like. I am curious Liz, what you would say? The part of the promotion and press process was like? Like the data of the doodle launch? Oh my gosh, it was incredible. I woke up to 500 emails. I was like Oh my gosh.
I got to draw the art for the Internet home page? This is massive to me. I was so floored. There was a lot of good press around it which is great. I got my second book deal from this to do a picture book by Jackie Ormes Random House. Shout out to the Google doodle team.
On the next page of the next slide you can see the responses we got. To meet the public response was super positive. I could not even imagine how responsive people were. I had so many people saying they did not know who she was. They had never heard of her. People who were artists in their own right and cartoonists in their own right.
For me that was uplifting. I also felt like people were excited to see a different type of black person. It was not an entertainer or an athlete. I think it was nice to spotlight just a different part of our culture. To highlight a black woman as well.
I think as we have seen in the last year about how much black women have move things forward. I would say Jackie was definitely a person who in her comics moved forward the image of a black woman. Even if people did not know her name as much before. I feel like I was super excited when Liz told me about the prospect with Random House. I hope more and more people know about her story. And can be inspired by it.
She was doing all of these things and talking about all of these issues in a time are you would think it would be much more difficult. For me it has definitely pushed me to think about my voice and how we use our voice. It totally made sense about her also being on this platform in a visual way. It was interesting because she was not touching social issues back in the 30s and 40s. When she did her initial comic strips.
They said the editorial was not as rigid. She could explore topics and put it out there without it being edited. To me it really spoke to an error era I'm super passionate about.
Which is about the black press. We have underestimated or undervalued what the black press was doing at that time. I took a peek down in the comments to see the questions. One of the things, I saw a person asked about the U.S. map on the transitions of the slide.
The reason I called that out because I don't think people understood the black press was distributed across the country at that time. The Chicago defender in the Pittsburgh Courier were being distributed to California. That were doing the storytelling for our communities. Were hiring artists and writers and editors. These people like Jackie and her husband, who her husband was hotel manager at one of these, I guess the most famous black owned hotel at that time.
Celebrities would come in all the time to stay there. She started writing an actual society column. To me there is a lot of glamour and sophistication and education around the black writing experience. When I think about the writers we have today, these are people who were obviously tackling these topics today.
When I think about the black press and how much it did to distribute those stories, for Jackie to have her work seen I just think we are not taught that history as much. We were taught about the things they move forward as well. Absolutely. Listed you want to speak about the outreach and how important it is? This character and how Jackie was to you and getting you motivated into illustration? She is so fearless. In a time when you did not think you could be so public about your opinion and just so brave about it.
Right now I am a contributing cartoonist for the New Yorker. It's definitely not easy to go and be really honest and vulnerable about your opinion or your perspective. She did and she did it fearlessly. When the stakes were very high.
Not that they aren't high now. I think of her a lot when I am doing my work. And I am scared to give an opinion. It is very powerful.
Especially as a black woman to see another black woman who was able to pick her experience. In the media we are not depicting ourselves. To know there is that legacy there I am able to build from, you do not have to reinvent the wheel. More often than not you're in the foundation of all of these things. She is very inspirational to me. One of the things to highlight too is thinking about the gender role of it.
The transitional slides we had. We detailed the progress of her being in a male oriented environment. My biggest hope that people took away from the doodle is that we need more black artists and black female artists. We need more black female art directors.
We need your creative vision. We need you. To help tell the stories. If you think about where things are today, one of the things I say a lot about is content is key right now. Apple has Apple TV now. Everyone is trying to get content even when I think about my own career and being close to the content creation, that has been an amazing journey for me.
I see it happening more with tech. Who is telling those stories. I want more of us telling those stories and feeling like art is a viable career. Part of my own personal story is my mother and my sister, I feel like I come from a line of creative women who can draw or do these kind of creative fields.
When my mother was growing up in the 70s she was not as aware of what she could do with her art. There were not a lot of people around telling you you could do this. Try it out. Try to go down this path.
I want more and more people, especially artists to realize it's a huge path for us. Creativity is a place that not only can give you freedom of expression but can also pay bills. Can the public submit ideas for a doodle? Or does it only come from the internal process? What is the process for external people to reach out to doodle? I think there is a combination of processes. There is a form that goes out at a certain point each year. We also have, I would say it goes out once each year externally. People can definitely follow me or the Twitter handle to see that.
There is also definitely a lot. I have to be honest. When you guys are talking about struggles or challenges or constraints, one of the biggest things if people want to see more. We get thousands and thousands of submissions.
We have thousands that are in backlog. What I would say is that over the years I have definitely seen the change in the doodles of the topics we are able to do. And the treatment of the different topics. As a person who has worked in virtual storytelling, I am also thinking about we can put together the story and how much time and effort we put into that story. What I think has been really influential is, also if you are interested in a certain topic tweet at are handled.
I think people internally have also been engaging with social media more and seeing what topics, and groups people are interested in. We do listen and pay attention to the narratives that are out there. Around the doodles. Like I said at the beginning being inclusive, working with different artists and bringing different perspectives is a huge part of what we are hoping to expand with the team. I think it will be a big driver of the different types of work we will be able to do in the future. Okay.
Perfect, thank you. Do you receive any outside from media and all the people who also give you praise or based upon certain doodles. are there doodles that become more inspirational and carry on. I think that is a great question. For me definitely working on Ormes and Juneteenth last year were two highlights.
I would also add I did a doodle for a Kenyon woman. I think if you are a person who loves history or research, and also once again learning more about black figures globally. One of the things I talk about along the team is thinking about Pan-Africanism and how the lives of black people in one place could connect to a story I am feeling somewhere else. Completely different. Even when you look at the history of different black figures, then traveling or interacting with people in different countries led to either greater thoughts and expanded perspective and other items.
I would say those three are really big for me for different reasons. They were all different formats. It was a static image. Did not have any animation or anything with that.
The response was super positive. When I posted on my IG people from America did not really know who she was and her story is related to her using dance as a form of resistance. To the colonizers that were coming into Kenya, and basically getting rid of a lot of their customs. The dance she did was a funeral related dance that she would normally do from village to village. She actually did this in response to their towns and their culture changing. I felt like it was a strong thing.
It wasn't like, she also eventually did speeches and things like that. It shows you how there are so many tools at your disposal. To be resistant. To be resistant or be an activist. It's not all one-dimensional.
There are so many different ways. We each have our own unique place in the world in our own unique personality. To show up in those moments.
For me her showing up in that way was super inspiring. She was also exiled because of it, which was awesome. When it comes to Juneteenth, obviously that one hits closer to home.
Even though I didn’t necessarily grow up with celebrating Juneteenth. I'm originally from Memphis, Tennessee. I went to HBCU, Hampton in Virginia.
There was a time where I saw all the celebrations in knowing more about this holiday. It was really important to me for our very first Juneteenth doodle. We are talking about first here. We went bigger, it was a video experience, and also the celebratory . And that it is connected, that was a big emphasis I related to our team. I did not want it to be focused on the path and it is a celebration of our culture. The cherry on top for me was to read the words of lift every voice and Sing.
In my research I realized it started off as a poem, but today we rarely hear it as a poem. And here it spoken. To have someone like LeVar that epitomizes the black past black present and black future, that is what I am trying to get racked up. And these projects, especially these three, with Jackie just really sort of speaks to that. Okay, fantastic. Thank you.
What is the next plan process that is coming down the pike? If you can speak to that -- what is the next hot thing you will look at? I know you can't speak to exactly. We try to keep these pretty under wraps. I am always sworn to secrecy.
It is one of the hardest things. Which is also why I am on IG. Like what is your availability like? To talk to people before they get signed to other projects. I will say there is definitely something in the works this month.
It's a special month and not over yet. I don't know if you have been in an anticipation on the home page, but you know TK is what I can say to that there’s definitely a lot of great stuff in the pipeline for this year and I think I’m excited, and I hope that many of you guys are but I’m super excited about what is to come and where we can go because the Juneteenth doodle to get that one approved at that time last year, when we were talking about this as a country having an actual holiday for that day, to me just opens the doors to what more we could do in the future. Absolutely. Another question from the chat room, they want to know about women in Google and women in your type of position. As an art director and artist, how difficult was it was to come into that position and move up into having the ability to actually present some of these wonderful images and wonderful people and pioneers to bring to the forefront in the regular public who don't know about these images are able to actually understand and embrace some of the images? Yes.
And I think that conversation I will say sort of starts at the beginning when I got into tech so I moved from editorial design to tech in 2016 or 2017 and for me I was looking to just….you know…I loved editorial, I loved storytelling but I really wanted to expand my mind what was possible to create. Especially with the new technology going on and what the tech companies have seen what they are creating and how they think.
And how I can apply that in a storytelling way. And so, for me, it has definitely been a journey in tech as a woman in the creative area. It’s definitely a different atmosphere in terms of editorial as the various things that we could be talking about. I found editorial to be different.
It's about how we live every day. There is no topic that is off the table here. Whereas I think in a more corporate setting which is a part of tech that I will honestly want to make sure I convey to people all, don't let the casual clothing fool you. It is a corporate environment.
It's definitely navigating a lot in terms of what people do understand about the culture right now. And the American culture and black American culture and the face of black people around the world. I think it's also navigating why I would want to elevate a certain topic. For Jackie originally that was can be a static image.
But really having to be strategic on how I approach my team about elevating topics, and being able to explain and convince them why. I think one of the things that I've tried to do is really get closer to the insight team and for example with the Juneteenth doodle one of the biggest insights we had last year, is that there are more people that Juneteenth was the most searched holiday in 2020. To me, it uses the data and as a creative person I have also had to really be more thoughtful about data. And especially how I can use it to elevate my projects or highlight certain gaps in the pipeline. Especially as to how we approach certain artists.
I think I use all of my skills in this role. I do some writing by writing things for our blog post. I wrote the entire Juneteenth blog post from the first-person perspective. Also being able to call out for example like we did a doodle on the guy that created basketball James Naismith and being able call out like hey this was during a time when schools were segregated.
And black people were not really able to partake in the beginning. And the form of basketball that Naismith did changed as black people became part of the game. So, being able to kind of do the writing but also working on artistic stuff which is what I love. And then also thinking about people that we could partner with to promote projects. Like I worked on an B.B. King animated music video which is one of my first projects with the team.
Being able to highlight blues and musicians of figures in Memphis especially being from Memphis, it is super important to me. But I would say oftentimes and the only person in the room and that is across my jobs at Apple and Google but I am encouraged because I don't think that has been the same way forever. I can tell you even in the last year there has been much more change in interest of bringing people in.
You have to remember Google is a huge corporation. There are over hundred thousand employees. Sometimes being in such a huge place, I have to build my own support system and stuff like that. So connecting with other black creators across YouTube another part of the business has been really helpful. But I think you also have to at the end of the day, one of the things that I tried to tell myself is to also keep my point of view.
I want to make compromises, I want to have alignment and think about the brand. But I'm also hired for a reason. I bring expertise, I bring a perspective and I don't want to lose sight of that. Fantastic.
Liz. Let me ask you a question, how did you start sketching? Who motivated you to start sketching? Did you pick up a pen and start drawing? Was it your mother who inspired you? How did you actually start the artistic journey that you're currently on? I had a really artsy family as I would say. My mom is an architect recently retired.
Designed public schools in New York City. My dad is an engineer went to big art school in New York. My sister is a designer. She studied fashion design. I just have a very artistic family.
My other sister is also very creative. I was very encouraged. I didn't go to a formal art University. I went to a liberal arts college on a track scholarship. I was working in graphic design and then emailed the New Yorker and was like hey you guys need more diversity and it kind of pitched myself for the job unintentionally.
So it definitely was not a straight path by any means. I think that sometimes in life you need to make your own opportunities especially when you don't see yourself being represented or don’t see the straight and narrow path. That is to say there's no one way to go about any of this. You just have to try. Nice going on that one too.
I feel like that is the big take away. That there is not one way to get there. And there will be people that say you know you should've said this. We should've done that. But every single person does it differently. Each and every doodlelist on the doodle team got there in a different way.
I’m very similar to Liz I didn't go to art school. I was interested in them, but I figured I should get this liberal arts education first. But I just want to encourage people. I really feel like it’s been practice. Yeah its practice. It's keeping with it.
You can grow any skill at anything if you give it enough time and attention. Fantastic. Thank you. That is an important memory and understatement here. Hard work in being creative and continue working at your craft can make benefit to help you throughout the end. Thank you.
Let's see if I have any more questions from the audience. I'm going to have to wrap this up. It has been entertaining and there's been a lot of things entered into the chat for us to review. Angelica, thank you very much. Liz thank you very much. Liz I’m going to throw out there your age, a lot of people may not know that your 25 and just had a birthday in December.
So just letting you know the perspective of how you can grow into this business and be in a creative environment. Thank you both and Ian thank you for a fantastic job. So now, we are going to move on to the next program that we are going to be having. We are going to have a women's symposium on March third from 1:00 until 3:00pm. You can sign up for that at www.USPTO.gov/events.
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