Monday, February 21, 2011

New Flag for California

Now here is a flag that is difficult to argue with:

Not only is it instantly recognizable (and not just because it has "California" on it), but it also has a long and storied history.  I mean, when a state's nickname is the "Bear Flag Republic," it would seem like a poor decision to try and tamper with the flag with the bear on it.  However, I'm going to anyway.

As a general rule, I'm not a fan of flags with writing on them, especially if it's a name.  It feels like an admission of mediocrity, that this flag can't be picked out of a lineup so we'll label it for you.  California's is an exception though, but mostly because the original bear flag said the same thing:

To play devil's advocate for a moment, here's what it would look like with out the words:

It maintains the symbolism, speaks to the history, and makes you feel that much smarter for being able to identify it.  But as this is only a thought experiment, I'd like to go a step further.  Simple isn't always better, but the bear is a little busy, what with the grass and shading for its fur.  Here is my idea for new flag for California:

In case you don't recognize it, this is the flag of the city of Los Angeles with the central seal removed.  Now before I get complaints, I'm not from California and have no desire to get into some sort of "Southern California is better than Northern California" argument.  My only experience in the state was changing planes in LAX and I have no desire to do that ever again.  However, taken just on color and design, I think this flag works for the whole state.  The green, as it so often does, can represent the natural beauty, the agricultural abundance, or weed (sorry, couldn't help myself), the yellow can be the deserts or the mineral wealth (think gold rush), and the red can be a reference to their past of being ruled by Spain/Mexico.

All the color symbolism is a little generic though, so here's what I think really sells this as a flag for all of California: the jagged border between the colors can stand for earthquakes.  Sure earthquakes happen all over the USA, but if someone ever said to you, "Did you hear?  There was just a big earthquake in . . ." who among us wouldn't think they were about to say California (or a least a major Californian city)?  Earthquakes are terrible and can cause tremendous loss of life, but it wouldn't be the first time there was an awful symbol on a flag (think Mississippi).


  1. I live in CA and really like our flag from a "quirkey, historic" standpoint. Many people hate text on flag or name of state, but this is more of a brag or declaration rather than simple statement.

    The LA flag feels very city flag-like, but feels too much like a new African flag (the pan-african colors and zig zag) to represent the whole state.

  2. Born and raised in Sacramento California. I've always liked our flag, but also wondered what kind of new flag we could go for. I'm personally not that against words in a flag depending on how it looks over all and if readability isn't necessary to identify it.

    I'm not sure about the LA flag as is but maybe with some tweaks. The coloring reminds me as well of the pan african colors. Maybe make it a dual color three stripe like Nigeria or Peru. Maybe some kind of brown on the outsides which could represent the Sierra and Coastal mountains with the central valley in between. The middle could be gold to represent the gold rush which helped create modern California as well as the farming of the valley being a large industry for the state today. (Tho the colors should be chosen relative to each other so that it doesn't look too much like Charlie Brown's shirt.) Or maybe a green in the middle.

    The zigzag pattern makes me think of native Californian basket patterns (even tho few in CA today no much if anything about the indigenous Californians), so I like that part. Plus not a common feature of many flags. Also would fit in with the brown from above to make mountains. Tho I think maybe adjust the number and size of zigzags, maybe double zigs and half the size, just to soften it a bit.

    Also just thought, maybe with two stars, top left and bottom right, to represent the SF Bay and LA metro areas, being as huge and prominent to the state as the are.