Burnsville High School junior Paul Nong had never entered, let alone won, a drawing contest. Now he’s in the running to have his artwork displayed on one of the world’s biggest canvases — the Google home page.
On Tuesday, Nong was named Minnesota’s winner of the 2014 “Doodle 4 Google” contest. The junior class celebrated by holding a surprise assembly, where Google representatives called his illustration “phenomenal.”
“I was really nervous and I thought it was all a bit too much, because I haven’t even won anything yet,” Nong said. “If I make it to the top five, I’ll be happy.”
Along with 49 other state finalists, Nong will fly to Google’s headquarters in California, all expenses paid, on May 21 to find out if his drawing, titled “The Dream Machine,” makes it into the top five nationally.
If he wins, his illustration will be featured on the Google home page June 9 as one of its highly recognizable Google Doodles, which are fanciful or artistic takes on the company logo, often tied to a particular holiday or anniversary.
His entry, chosen from more than 100,000 nationwide, was done in colored pencil and charcoal and features silhouettes of people sleeping on each end. In the middle are hot air balloons, flying humans and ribbons of color. After completing the drawing, which took nine hours, he manipulated it using a computer program.
This year’s theme was “If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place.” Nong’s invention, a dream machine, would make use of all the time humans spend slumbering, he said.
Nong, who has been drawing since age 5, said his history teacher urged him to enter the Google contest after seeing his artistic talent. He recently enlisted in the Army National Guard and wants to pursue an art degree so he can be a concept artist for movies and video games, he said.
The national winner — determined by who receives the most online votes — will receive a $30,000 scholarship and a $50,000 technology grant for their school. Members of the public can vote for their favorite drawings until May 9 at www.google.com/doodle4google.
Erin Adler • 952-746-3283