People The mind behind some of Google's most memorable homepage logo doodles, Ryan Germick, tells his Madurai visit left him impressed with India's design aesthetics

His illustrations are renowned while his wit can fill your bluest day with laughter. Meet Ryan Germick. His claim to fame: creating some of Google's best homepage logo doodles, graphics and videos.

He was in the city recently to conduct an illustrated storytelling and new media art workshop, organised by Art Mantram at Alliance Francaise, which saw the participation of some bright, young designers.

Ryan — surrounded by his enthusiastic, giggly group of students — humorously recounts his journey as an artist. “When I was 14, I noticed all the presents that were kept aside for me near the Christmas tree were art things. That's when I thought, ‘Hey! I must be good at art!'”

Ryan also owes his talent to his family of renowned artists. “My elder brother is a musician while another brother is a sportsman. I am the middle child. So, I decided to become an artist because, you know, I was desperate for attention,” says Ryan to peals of laughter from the motley crowd of designers and journalists gathered to hear him speak.

Ryan's fertile ideas and boundless talent has won him admirers the world over. His doodles range from the quirky to the bizarre and each stand out because of the unmistakable trademark Ryan style in them that is difficult to copy. Some of his well-known doodles are the Sesame street series doodles for Google and he was among the distinguished group of designers who created Google's latest Christmas logo doodle. “Design, to me, is subjective. It depends on how you hone your individual style. At the end of the day, the path of the artist is always unsure.”

What's the special something that he does while sketching? “Usually, I start by solving a problem. Then I just move from one point to another. At times, I draw without thinking too hard, allowing my creativity to take its natural course.”

Ryan gave up his professional basketball career to study illustrations and creative writing at Parsons School of Design and Eugene Lang College in New York. After a four-year working stint at Google, he travelled to many countries, India being one of them.

Ryan's eyes light up at the very mention of Madurai, where he worked with a sign painter. Ryan adapted to Tamil culture, even learning a bit of the language. But he cherishes the moments he shared while working with the sign painter the most. “My Tamil is very bad and the sign painter I worked with didn't know English. We mostly communicated through sign language. But we discussed everything from atheism to the nature of art.”

The use of bold colours in Indian art fascinates Ryan. “In America, boring colours like black were popular when grunge was in. So, as opposed to that perspective, I was impressed with the colours I saw in Indian art and design,” Ryan points to his purple-and-pink-checked shirt, “I bought this shirt from Fab India. In fact, every time I come to India, I buy something from there. I really like the designs and colours they use.”

Ryan chose India over his other two must-be-visited countries — Japan and Mexico — because the former was too expensive and the latter could be explored anytime. “Even as a child, visiting India was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The sign painters I have worked with in Madurai are some of the best artists I have seen.”

Ryan contends that though India has some phenomenal talent, due to constraints in resources, graphic designing is still in its nascent stage.

“There is no denying that Indian art is beautiful and that India can boast of some awesome artistic talent. At the same time, a lot more in the area of modern design aesthetics.”

But he is all praise for the students he is training, whom he finds “inspiring, crazy and flattering”.