In this week’s edition of our not so official segment, “I’m Rooting for Everybody Black,” allow us to introduce you to Angelica Mckinley. Though you may be unfamiliar with her name, chances are high that you’ve come across her work. If you’ve ever conducted an online search, you have probably stumbled across a little website by the name of Google.com. You’ve probably also noticed that the website’s logo is often artistically reimagined, and at times, even animated. The Google Doodle as it’s known, is now under the art direction of 35-year-old Mckinley, and we can assure you, the company has never made a better hire.
“How do you feel when you show up to the door of someone’s home? How do they greet you? Do you feel warm and seen and connected? We spend so much time online, and I want to inject more of the idea that everyone can feel included when they come to this place; I want our users to feel at home,” Mckinley explains to Bustle magazine.
She describes the Doodle as a welcome mat. A way to roll out an open space for everyone to feel seen, heard, and appreciated. An inspiring space for creatives, and non creatives alike.
As a child, she felt the artist rising inside of her from a young age, and credits her mother as being the most important artist in her life. She shares with Insider that as she got older, she learned that her mother opted not to pursue an art career, as a high school counselor once persuaded her to find work in a more “stable” field like nursing, or engineering.
“This left a huge impression on me, and I made the decision to pursue what makes me curious, fills me with light, and above all, pushes me to continue learning,” shares the art director.
Mckinley graduated from HBCU Hampton University with a degree in advertising in 2008, and flexed her creative muscles for over ten years, working with various news organizations and outlets as a designer, consultant, and editorial art director. In 2019, she officially joined the Google team as art director, a role she says she easily fell into.
Her first doodle? The Day 1 image for The World Cup, a sketch she designed with paper and pen when she realized that her software was not yet available to her.
Other notable doodles include a colorful celebration of Black lesbian feminist poet, Audre Lorde, and what Mcklinley describes as her personal favorite, a majestic depiction of R&B legend Luther Vandross in honor of what would have been his 70th birthday. In an Instagram post featuring the doodle, she captions the posts in part with a quote shared by the Vandross family.
“Luther made each of his songs about one simple, universal subject—love; an emotion and feeling common to the human experience no matter who you are, where you’re from or what you look like. No one else has expressed this emotion, in song, at the level Luther did for over 35 years. To have Google broadcast that around the world is a wonderful showcase of his immeasurable talent.”
This is the Angelica Mcklinley effect. Her designs are one part creative inspiration, and one part education and exploration. This past summer, Mckinley was featured alongside Google’s Head of Product Inclusion, Anne Jean-Baptise in an article written by InStyle Magazine on the design of the 2021 Google Doodle for Juneteenth. During a time where many Americans are still learning about the significance of the holiday and its observation, Mckinley and Jean-Baptiste were proud to amplify the lesson.
“Since we’re one of the largest places to go for information, we’re giving people a chance to see something that they might not have looked for on their own,” the art director shares with InStyle.
Although she’s only been with the company for a short while, the contributions of Angelica Mckinley are sure to have lasting effects both online, and IRL.