Monday, July 25, 2011

New Flag for Kansas

This is the flag of Kansas:

I could make a flat and rectangular joke here, but it would be too easy.  Also, it probably wouldn't be funny.

This flag contains no surprises.  It shouts "KANSAS!" at you in a very large font, and except for the sunflower on the top, there is nothing very unique about this flag.  I would even make the argument that it doesn't represent Kansas very well even with all the detail in the central seal.  Why is there a mountain in the background?  In one of those few stereotypes that ends up being true, Kansas is very flat.  The highest point, Mount Sunflower, is 3,300 feet higher than the state's lowest point, but because Kansas gradually slopes up as you move west from Missouri toward Colorado, "Mount" Sunflower is a mountain in name only.  The point being, the peak on the seal is deceptive.

There is other stuff on the flag too, some stars, a farmer plowing a field, a steamboat, even Native Americans chasing a herd of bison (I kind of like that last one), but all that can be put aside in favor of the one semi-unique feature, the sunflower:

This flag maintains the shade of blue for the background, but is a twist on the sunburst design that other flags use.  This design uses only three colors, one of them being brown which isn't very common, and is fairly simple.  I tried creating this flag with more definition, such as outlining the petals to highlight that it is a flower, but I felt that created unnecessary clutter.

Monday, July 18, 2011

New Flag for New York

New Yorkers can be tricky to appease.  Perhaps that's one of the reasons they have such a boring flag:

To the majority of people who don't live in the state, the term "New York" refers to New York City more often then not.  To those who live in New York City, it means the same thing.  To the 11 million or so who don't live in the Five Boroughs, it refers to the whole state.  Thus the problem of finding symbols that would represent the state in both New Yorkers' eyes and for everyone else.  Obvious choices of the Empire State Building or Statue of Liberty are out because they don't have the same resonance for people in Binghamton, Rochester, or Utica (also, the Statue of Liberty is technically in New Jersey).  On the flip side is the fact that Upstate New York has relatively few landmarks that would be easily recognizable.  Niagara Falls is a possibility, as is the State House in Albany, but the former is shared with Canada and the latter looks too much like a mansion Vanderbilt or Hearst might have owned.

A greater unifying theme, and one that is unique to New York, is their history as a Dutch colony.  Before they were named for the Duke of York, New Amsterdam was the capital of New Netherland.  The first president from New York, Martin Van Buren, actually grew up speaking Dutch and learned English as a second language.  The current flags of New York City and Albany reflect this, using the orange, blue, and white taken from the Dutch flag:

The Dutch flag consists of horizontal stripes, like the flag of Albany, so the NYC flag is a bit more distinctive when it rotates them.  However, sticking too close to the NYC flag would doubtless be unpopular elsewhere.  Plus, they both have seals in the center, and we can't have that.  Instead I propose to keep the color scheme, but include a icon to represent the whole state:

Orange, blue, and white remain, speaking to the history of the state and by making orange the most prominent color, giving the flag a unique look that would make it easily distinguishable from the other states.  The narrowness of the blue stripe is meant to represent the Erie Canal, an Upstate landmark that greatly influenced the City as well.  When it was completed in 1825, goods could be taken by water from Chicago and the rest of the Old Northwest (Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, etc.) to the harbors of New York City, bringing even more business to that already thriving metropolis, as well as other areas of the state.  The Erie canal is one of the few symbols that really tie the state together and this simple, clean rendering is far easier to draw, distinguish, and remember than their current seal on blue arrangement.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Arizona, Colorado, D.C., and Tennessee

In honor of procrastination, this week we'll look at a few more flags that I don't think need any help.

1) Arizona:

Bright primary colors and a great use of copper.  If I have to make a critique, it's that the top half of the star is a little indistinct because of the surrounding lines, but that's the worst I've got so Arizona needs to make no apologies.  Just make sure you have your papers if you visit.

2) Colorado:

The most common complaint I've heard about this flag is it looks a little too much like a corporate logo.  I understand the sentiment, but don't share it.  Only corporations are allowed to used stylized letters?  That doesn't seem fair.  I love this flag.

3) Washington, D.C.:

Great history and far and away the best flag of the "Other" category of state flags (I like American Samoa too, but their eagle is pretty busy). This flag is the coat of arms of George Washington, first president, most famous man with false teeth, married a rich, attractive, young widow (those later portraits don't do Martha justice), first in war, first in peace, etc.  It ties in the history of the District with two parallel lines and three stars, hard to top that.

4) Tennessee:

The stars in the center can look a little jumbled, but they're really just rotating around a central point.  They also each represent one of the Grand Divisions of the state (East, West, and Middle).  But my favorite part of this flag is the blue stripe on the right.  When asked about the stripes symbolism, the designer, Colonel LeRoy Reeves said, "The final blue bar relieves the sameness of the crimson field and prevents the flag from showing too much crimson when hanging limp."  Did you get that?  The stripe is there just because.  Not sure why, but I really like that.