What do you want to be when you grow up? Matteo Lopez, from South San Francisco, California, already knows the answer to this age-old question. The 7-year-old aspires to be a space-traveler one day, like NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong. In honor of his hero, Matteo entered a space-inspired doodle into the 2011 U.S. Doodle 4 Google contest. The second-grader's entry took the top prize in the tech giant's annual competition.
Matteo's colorful creation beat out a whopping 107,000 submissions, up from 33,000 last year. Each year, Google calls on kids in grades K-12 to use their imaginations to create a new design for its familiar logo. The winning doodle was revealed during a special ceremony at the Google offices in New York City on Thursday.
For the next 24 hours, Matteo's artwork will be displayed front and center on Google.com for millions to see. He will also take home a $15,000 college scholarship, a laptop computer, a digital tablet and a $25,000 technology grant for his school.
Picturing the Future
This year's contest focused on the theme, "What I'd like to do someday . . ." Entries came in from across the nation. The doodles illustrated a variety of visions. Students dreamed of doing everything from becoming art teachers to visiting Earth's seven wonders to feeding the world.
Matteo calls his doodle "Space Life." He writes: "What I'd like to do someday is become an astronaut and explore space life. I want to wear a spacesuit, fly in space, walk on the moon and make friends with aliens in other planets." He is the youngest-ever U.S. Doodle 4 Google winner.
"We selected Matteo's space-themed doodle because it highlights a childhood dream we can all identify with," says Marissa Mayer, Google's Vice President of Product Management. "By depicting something very futuristic and technological with his beautiful art, Matteo captured the essence of a doodle."
It took the youngster five weeks to complete the doodle. The extra time and effort was worth it. When Mayer announced Matteo as the grand-prize winner, he was all smiles. "It was exciting!" Matteo told TFK.
A panel of expert jurors pared down the entries to 400 state finalists and then to 40 regional winners. Then, the public was invited to vote online for four national finalists. An overall national winner was selected based on artistic merit, creativity and expression of the theme.
The 40 regional winners received a visit to their schools from the Google team and a trip to New York City to attend the awards ceremony. They were treated to a doodling class with the company's official doodlers before being presented with special plaques. All 40 doodles will be on display at the Whitney Museum of American Art, in New York City, and at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in California.
Several of the judges attended Thursday's ceremony. The group included Olympic figure skater Evan Lysacek, author Jeff Kinney, cartoonist Scott McCloud and Kathryn Potts of the Whitney Museum. They spoke to the audience about their own love of art and gave advice on how to be successful.
"Follow whatever it is that you like," says Lysacek, who revealed that figure skating wasn't his first dream job. "Many successful people have failed at their first attempt. But because they followed a path of passion, they found their destiny. I'm no different; I wanted to be an artist. And I found a way to become an artist in a different way than what I first set out to be."
Potts agrees. "To be innovative in any career, you have to not be afraid to make mistakes," she says. "Don't be afraid to start again if things don't come out right the first time."