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Google Logo Art Critiqued

March 20, 2009

For millions of people around the world, Google is the go-to site for everything from online shopping to project research. Almost everyone I know uses Google as their homepage.

One thing that I've never until now given the site credit for is its subtle and artful way of reminding me about important or at least intriguing calendar dates.

Today, for instance, the letters of the site's logo have been transformed to look like Eric Carle's iconic Very Hungry Caterpillar illustration. The artwork of the logo -- by in-house graphic artist and Google logo maven Dennis Hwang -- is delightfully chunky, colorful and imaginative (see above). It's the 40th anniversary of Carle's legendary children's book, so Google's gentle reminder about the date and tribute to the book's creator is very fitting.

It's interesting to see how Google's logo art has become the subject of such curiosity in recent years. Articles about Hwang and his work on the logos have appeared on both the BBC and CNN websites. Hwang has his own Wikipedia page. The impact of Google's artwork has become so great, infact, that media outlets are even publishing articles relating particular logo designs to the events they're highlighting. For example, today's UK Telegraph newspaper is running a story entitled "Google celebrates Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar".

My favorite Google logo in recent times is Hwang's whimsical-idyllic landscape created for Darwin's 200th anniversary (see above.) I love this illustration because of the way in which Hwang approaches each letter in the logo so creatively and seems to dream up an entire world through manipulating those letters. It refers to the subject only obliquely, forcing us to click on the logo to find out more. And the painterly, almost old-fashioned style of the artwork stands out because it's so different from the simple, bold primary colors and clean lines of the standard Google logo.

Not all of Hwang's artistic efforts are as lovely as the Hungry Caterpillar logo, though. The logo Hwang designed to celebrate Jackson Pollock's 97th birthday in January is a bit of a let-down. It's very predictable, leaves little to the imagination and doesn't really do anything truly creative with the Google letters. The word "Google" is practically invisible under the Pollock-style melee of colorful drips and drops, which isn't a great thing from a branding/marketing standpoint (not that Google need worry about brand recognition at this point). We can identify the subject of the design straight away as Pollock, but the art isn't particularly clever.

Still, the logo obviously made an impression on some people. One viewer even made a YouTube video about deciphering Google's Pollock logo.


  • "The Very Hungry Catapiler" Was One of my favorite books as a child. And the google art reminded me of all the times i would sit and just read that book over and over again.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At September 5, 2009 at 2:01 AM  

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