The Google Doodle designed by Ryan Shea, a seventh grader in Lakewood, Colo.

(Photo: Courtesy of Google)
Ryan Shea loves graphic design. He’s a seventh grader at Creighton Middle School in Lakewood, and there’s a chance one of his designs will be seen by millions – maybe hundreds of millions – of people.

Shea is the Colorado winner of a national contest for kids to design a Google Doodle, the illustration the search engine puts up on holidays or famous people’s birthdays, for example.

Shea’s design is a take on the solar system. He says it was inspired by an astronomy class at school, but it’s also symbolic.

“The theme this year was, if I could invent one thing to make the world a better place dot dot dot. So, the theme of the doodle is called the Universal Nexus. The rockets are exploring to make new connections between things," Shea says.

"And the entire Doodle was based on the premise that it’s better to be connected to the universe around us, and everyone should be connected.”

He says not everyone has the same opportunity to make connections – especially online. “A lot of the population of the world in 3rd world countries as well as developing nations they don’t have the opportunity to do these things as much as people in the United States," he says. "So I find that it’s a connection that needs to be made.”

Shea learned about the contest in his art class, where he made the first version of it with graphite and colored pencils. Then he created a new version in Adobe Photoshop, which he says he's largely taught himself to use. 

For winning, Shea and the other 49 state winners will head to Google’s headquarters in California, where he’ll meet some of his design idols. He plans to ask them for advice.

“The main question I want to ask is, what is the best use of time that you can do," he says. "Because I have a lot of free time and I’d like to put that to good use for future careers, if I want to become an artist at Google, which I’d certainly love to, then I want to know the best way to grow my experience and have the best chance to go farther.”

If he goes farther in the competition, and wins overall, Shea gets $30,000 to put towards college, and his school gets $50,000 for technology. Google will determine who wins partly based on votes from the public. Voting ends Friday, May 9.