July 18, 2014
Nelson Mandela's 96th Birthday
Google Doodler Katy Wu tells us a little bit about the creative process behind making the Nelson Mandela doodle.
Getting to celebrate someone as monumental and influential as Nelson Mandela must have been exciting, but also kind of intimidating. Can you tell me a little about your experience working on this project?
A few months ago I was looking to work on a bigger project and the time was right, so I got assigned to work on the Mandela doodle. At first I thought I would have to make a very serious, somber sort of doodle and I wasn’t sure what to do.
But after learning more about Mandela as a person I started to understand that he was a man with a lot of character, and not always just a serious figure. That started to give me more ideas about how to approach this doodle.
Right. I remember you telling the doodle team in earlier pitch sessions about some of his dance moves. What other kind of research did you do?
I read about Nelson Mandela online and in books to get a better idea of who he was as a person. I also received a lot of help from our local doodle manager in South Africa when it came to fact checking smaller lesser known details about South African culture, history, and people.
What inspired the creative direction?
Something that stood out to me about Nelson Mandela was his eloquent way with words. I thought his words gave a great insight into the kind of man he was, so I wanted to focus the creative direction of the doodle on his quotes against a backdrop of the history of South Africa.
You definitely put typography to good use in order to give Mandela’s words a new dimension. How challenging was that?
While working on the Doodle I spent a lot of time looking at examples of typography online and in design and typography books. It took a lot of trial and error to figure out which typefaces can best abstractly convey the sort of feeling or atmosphere I wanted in each illustration.
The font, artwork, and story had to work together on this project. Most of the quotes are hand drawn except for the first 2 slides. By studying how other fonts are designed I began to draw my own so that I could better integrate the font with my own artwork.
Any hopes for how our users will respond to this doodle?
I hope it inspires people to learn from Nelson Mandela and his way of life, to be kind, to understand, and to respect other people and our differences.