Jun 17, 2022 • 14M

132. Doodling at Google with Matthew Cruickshank

a new episode of the sneakyart podcast + other updates.

Open in playerListen on);

Appears in this episode

Nishant Jain
Best ideas from a journey of self-education. For Insider ears only.
Episode details

👋🏼 Hello listeners!

I am delighted to present the new episode of the SneakyArt Podcast, a conversation with Matthew Cruickshank, Art Director at Google Doodles. Listen to the first few minutes of the episode in the attached audio.

This episode is unique because it is the first time I was scouted and approached to do an interview.

In today’s issue, show notes, ideas from the conversation, my new store for prints and merch, and info about the upcoming Zoom hangout!

Share The SneakyArt Post

🎙 Ep 46 - Doodling for Google with Matthew Cruickshank

Matthew Cruickshank, Art Director at Google Doodles, speaks about his sketchbook-ing road trip down historic Route 66 (from Chicago to Los Angeles) to create a … doodle!

The question that drives the conversation is this -

How far will a Doodler go for a Google Doodle?

The answer is ~2500 miles! But another answer is - hundreds of pages of sketchbook drawings. Still another answer - countless hours under a hot sun by the side of a desolate road. Matthew speaks about the abiding role of sketchbooks in his life, drawing from real life as a way to “be grounded,” and the evolving role of Google Doodles in our world.

Listen to this conversation on your choice of streaming service, or grab a link below:

Spotify | Apple | PocketCasts | Google | Web | Gaana

🔊 A New Style of Episode

Matthew could give me only 60 minutes, including our setup time. When I realized it could not be a long-form conversation, I had to re-evaluate how the episode would be recorded and how I would present it to listeners.

I am glad I was able to have this conversation because -

  • it gives me insight into the incredible Google Doodle project, and

  • it demonstrates a unique way for observational drawing/painting to be part of the creative process.

But there are many questions I could not ask Matthew because of the limited time. I had to cover so much ground horizontally that I did not have the luxury to go deep.

So we have an episode unlike any other, with a conversation conducted at a different tempo. I took inspiration from my favourite episodes of 99% Invisible and the Hidden Brain podcast to get a sense of pacing and flow.

Form follows function, as my engineering design professors would say.

Matthew connected with me from a cabin in the mountains.

I am glad for this timely creative challenge.

Last week, I shared with Insiders the primer of how I make the SneakyArt Podcast - rules and best practices learned from recording 45 episodes totalling ~90 hours.

The episode with Matthew Cruickshank is Episode 46, and I have some new ideas about how I want to do things from now on. In the coming weeks, I will discuss these plans with Insiders and share pilot episodes to get their feedback. If this is a journey you want to be part of, hit the button below.

Become a SneakyArt Insider

🔍 What is a Google Doodle?

Google Doodles are the artworks you see on the Google homepage, changing daily to reflect on historical events and current news. It is an incredible art project that has generated over 5000 doodles.

There are Doodles which appear as static images, and some that are videos. Others are interactive - you can press buttons or engage with their elements in interesting ways. They serve to not only entertain us but to educate us about the works of remarkable individuals all over the world.

Here is a recent Doodle I enjoyed very much. It is made to honour Angelo Moriondo, the inventor of the espresso machine.

Can you read the letters G-o-o-g-l-e?

But every Doodle is not about a person.

This conversation was prompted by a particular Doodle made to celebrate Route 66, the iconic road that cuts through America. Matthew Cruickshank drove 2500 mi from Chicago to LA to document the changing landscape, celebrate this route’s historical importance, and observe its place in nostalgia, history, and pop culture.

He did this by making hundreds of urban sketches and paintings along the way, which were cut, copied, and pasted into a beautiful video collage.

💭 Show Notes & Insights

  • Nishant asks about the role of sketchbooks in different phases of Matthew’s life.

  • They talk about the inception of the idea for the Route 66 doodle.

  • Why didn’t you just … Google it?” asks Nishant.

  • Unexpected discoveries along the historic route.

  • What is the purpose behind Google Doodles, a massive creative collaborative project without tangible ROI (return on investment), operating under the wings of a mega-corporation?

  • Lessons from art and control engineering about logic, and things that exist outside of logical frameworks.

  • “Art is the lie that helps us see the truth.” - Picasso.

  • [Ep 15 of the Podcast] - Drawing Across Borders with George Butler, and the role of art in helping us see what we have learned to ignore.

  • [Bonus Commentary] from Ep 15 about the history of war illustration and photography.

  • Matthew speaks about Don McCullin, the famous photographer.

  • “You paint the flight of the bird, not the individual wings.”

  • Matthew relates the trajectory of his life.

  • They share good reasons for cross-pollination between digital and analog art.

  • Matthew speaks about artist David Hockney.

Dear listeners, have you heard the episode already? Do you have thoughts and/or questions? I would love to hear them!

Leave a comment

💡 Other News

🛒 I just updated my Society6 page with new prints and merchandise.

💻 Limited seats are up for grabs in the monthly Zoom hangout.

Thank you, readers and listeners, for your time and attention. See you next week!