08 August 2009

Flagged Down

Filed under: Ben rates stuff that most people don't think about.

Today's topic is state flags. They're like armpits: we all have them, and most of them stink. Anyone who knows anything about vexillology or just plain graphic design knows that the whole state-seal-on-blue-bedsheet thing is supra-lame. My reference today will be NAVA's study on the state and provincial flags of North America. Looking, however, upon this study, it becomes clear that there are easy fixes for the abominations that are the flags of many of our states. Link to all state flags here. Suggestions for all 50 below:

Alabama: Dear Alabama, your flag is already taken historically by Ireland (the old Irish contribution to the Union Jack was the red diagonal part). You can use a red St. Andrew's cross on a white field, but you should put it in the canton and put something else in the fly. If you want to highlight your stint in the Confederacy, you could pull a Georgia and put the "bars" (of "stars and bars") in the fly, red, white, red. Or you could put a state symbol in there (not the seal!) like a yellowhammer or a stock car or something.

Alaska: Rock on.

Arizona: Please also rock on.

Arkansas: Ditch the "ARKANSAS" on your flag--it's distinctive enough as is.

California: I don't like the "California Republic" on the flag, but I think it has to stay for historical reasons.

Colorado: Continue to rock.

Connecticut: I expected better of you. For one of the original thirteen, you really have an unoriginal flag. Ditch the seal, draw a thin stripe of white down the middle horizontally (to represent the historical Western Reserve and the nickname "the Land of Steady Habits"), then deface it with three purple stars in place of the grapes on the state seal, representing your three original colonies, and to draw a connection to good ol' Washington.

Delaware: Ditch the date and the seal, and place one white star in the middle of the diamond of buff, for "The First State"

Florida: You are essentially Alabama/Ireland with the state seal in the middle. Replace the seal with a gold disc for "The Sunshine State".

Georgia: You will pass, this time. That thing in the canton is messed up though.

Hawai'i: Hang loose. Good job.

Idaho: Fail. I would suggest a tricolor of blue, white, and green, to show solidarity with the Pac NW, and seven stars, four on top, three on bottom to indicate the 43rd State. I'm suggesting a violation of the three-colors rule by making the stars the colors of precious gems.

Illinois: Keep the white, ditch the scenery. You can keep the eagle if you want, but he should only be holding the shield. Perhaps you should adopt the powder-blue stripes of the Chicago flag, and ditch the eagle entirely, keeping only the US shield.

Indiana: Ditch the "INDIANA".

Iowa: Ditch the "IOWA", drop the eagle to the middle.

Kansas: I would use the sunflower as the main motif, and make the flag green with a vertical stripe of white, with white stars across the green parts of the top, symbolic of the motto "ad astra per aspera".

Kentucky: I would do bluegrass green and white, 15 stripes total, vertical, for "the Bluegrass State" and the 15th admitted to the union.

Louisiana: Why, why, WHY do you not use the Fleur-de-lis in your flag? Do something like a cross between Quebec and the Dominican Republic: a white Saint George's cross through a field of alternating blue and red, with either a fleur-de-lis in the middle, or a number of them in the cross.

Maine: Go back to the 1901 flag.

Maryland: Please continue to rock.

Massachusetts: Make the whole flag that purple color, move the white star to the canton, and move the weird arm thingy to the center. Ditch everything else.

Michigan: Tricolor-style, but both sides the same color, a la Peru or Nicaragua--I suggest blue, but green works as well. A gray, yes, gray bar horizontally down the center, representing the chrome of the auto industry and the Mackinac Bridge.

Minnesota: Adopt the North Star Flag.

Mississippi: I'm not even going to touch that. The Confederate Battle Flag is a very loaded symbol, and I'm going to steer clear of commentary upon it.

Missouri: Pretty similar to Paraguay. I would ditch the seal in favor of just one symbol of the state, perhaps a dogwood blossom.

Montana: Utter fail. I would capitalize on "Big Sky" and do a horizontal quatre-couleurs a la Mauritius, but blue (for big sky), yellow (for gold), brown (which I'm also going to suggest on the Dakotas' flags--I think it's an accurate way to highlight the relationship residents of the northern Rockies area have with the land), and white (for silver).

Nebraska: Replace the seal with a cornstalk. Problem solved.

Nevada: You're only pretending not to fail. Replace the wreathy stuff with seventeen white stars in a circle around the big one for the 17 counties of the Silver State. I would have it so the top point of each of these stars points outward. You can keep the "Battle Born" if you must.

New Hampshire: I would just have it half blue, half gray (for "the Granite State"), divided diagonally from the bottom-hoist to the top-fly. You could put "LIVE FREE OR DIE" on it, if you wanted.

New Jersey: Buff with three Jersey blue stars stacked close vertically in the center, representing the three plows in the seal and the 3rd state in the Union.

New Mexico: However you say "rock on" in the Zia language.

New York: I would keep the dimensions, and make it a blue field with a white wedge extending from the bottom center to the two top edges, with just the eagle surmounting a globe as the device. "EXCELSIOR" can be kept, if it must.

North Carolina: Your flag barely passed.

North Dakota: Horizontal tricolor--blue, white, brown.

Ohio: You overdid it, which I love.

Oklahoma: Ditch "OKLAHOMA". We should be able to tell what your flag represents without having to read. Since we can't, highlight the Osage artifact with a white or yellow lozenge in the middle.

Oregon: Why does your flag have two sides? There's not enough vexillological content for one. Use the flag of Cascadia's color scheme, and choose a something to put in the middle. I suggest an O shape with a state symbol inside. If you want, you can invert the Cascadia scheme so as not to look like a separatist.

Pennsylvania: I'd do a blue field with red and white stripes, vertical, on both sides, with the red stripe outward, and a gold keystone in the center.

Rhode Island: I would ditch the banner with "HOPE" and change the anchor and stars to a deeper gold color or, preferably, red.

South Carolina: Rock on, Southern-style.

South Dakota: I would do a blue field with a brown stripe at the bottom, in the blue field an image of Mount Rushmore.

Tennessee: Yeehaw.

Texas: I choose not to mess with this one.

Utah: Seriously, with all the symbology that is rampant in this state, I'm sorely disappointed. I would do a multi-color field like my suggestion for Louisiana, cut by two arches, facing opposite directions, and crossing in the middle. The upward-facing one looks like a U for Utah and represents the canyons. The downward-facing one represents a beehive or the arches the southern desert is famous for. The recent license places have used a tan color and sky blue a lot, so I would suggest all of the sections other than the three in the top-center be tan, and the top-center ones sky blue.

Vermont: Go back to the Vermont Republic flag, and straighten the stars. You might reverse the colors of the canton so as not to be as hard on the eyes.

Virginia: This is the toughest of the redesigns--it's hard to imagine how to make a flag that represents the most storied state in the union, the Mother of Presidents. I suggest a 13-stripe red/white horizontal (a la the "Don't Tread on Me" naval jack), but with the top stripe blue with eight white stars, representing the eight presidents to hail from VA (with the option to add more if another Virginian is elected president).

Washington: Vertical tricolor, white, green, blue, with a gold profile of George Washington in the center.

West Virginia: It'd be awesome if WVU just gave up their logo. It's kitschy-fabulous. But otherwise, you would want something that focuses on its loyalty. I would say horizontal tricolor, blue, red, white, with a white stripe on the hoist side. The white L that's made by this pattern is representative of West Virginia's loyalty to the union (and to peace) and the state's two panhandles.

Wisconsin: I would do this: a red field, crossed in the center with a blue bar surrounded by two thin white stripes. Blue bar studded with 30 white stars (for the 30th state). The red flag is representative of Wisconsin's name "it runs red", referring to the Wisconsin River's color, and the design is vaguely reminiscent some Asian flags (esp. Thailand), emphasizing the importance of the state's Asian population.

Wyoming: Keep everything, lose the seal in the buffalo's eye.

As you can see, there are some trends in my suggestions (and the existing flags)--certain colors (green for the Pac NW, purple for New England, brown for the Northern Rockies) can tie regions together.

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Blogger Optimistic. said...

Awesome (cf. dude, that is so totally pwned).

10:45 PM  

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