Monday, August 29, 2011

New Flag for Rhode Island

Rhode Island is another state that, like Wyoming, is almost great:

As flags with text go, Rhode Island's is about as good as it gets.  Only a single word, "Hope," on a blue banner, providing both the state's motto and a splash of color to the yellow and white of the rest of the flag.  Also like Wyoming, the fix for this flag is fairly obvious and has been done before.  A simple deletion of the blue banner and enlargement of the anchor.  As much as I would like to suggest some amazing new flag, the one I offer is only slightly changed:

It looks like I did next to nothing and I'll admit that is true.  The anchor has been enlarged and centered like in other designs and all I've really done is make the stars a light blue.  My main reason for only minor alterations is that this flag has great history.  The anchor design for Rhode Island dates from 1640, within five years of Rhode Island existing as a colony and that is just too historic to discard (the "Hope" banner also dates from this period, but my commitment to history is only topped by my commitment to eliminating text).  I felt that the splash of color should be maintained though and that it was silly for a state with "Island" in its name to not have any blue.  I tried this with darker shades, but I prefer the more subtle contrast of the light blue rather than the competition with the anchor that navy stars created.  It keeps the flag simple, recognizable, and maintains one of the most successful examples of a white background.

Monday, August 22, 2011

New Flag for Wyoming

Wyoming's flag is unfortunate, for two big reasons:

The biggest reason is that this was almost an amazing flag; the red and white borders, the contrast of the white bison on the deep blue.  But then they had to go and shove their boring, complicated seal into the center.  It's just sad.  The other reason this flag is unfortunate is more personal, in that the fix for it is very simple, but others have already suggested it.  Over at Your State Flag Stinks, the seal was  removed the seal and you're left with a pretty great flag, and I can't imagine that's the first place to suggest that.  I suppose I could chicken out and do the same, but flip the bison so I can pretend to claim originality:

But that feels like a cop out.  There are some other state symbols of Wyoming that would look good up there, if I had any artistic ability, including the Horned Toad (state reptile) and the Triceratops (state dinosaur).  Another option would be the rodeo rider that graces their licence plate and state quarter.  It is a fairly simple outline and used throughout the state already:

In the end, I don't think this looks to bad, but the design of the modern flag (minus the seal of course) is a tough one to dismiss.  It can be hard to fix a flag when the best solution is already taken.  Not that I'm complaining, I wish they were all this easy.

Monday, August 15, 2011

New Flag for Washington

Washington state, like the other flags that rely on their state's seal, has a lot of problems, but at the same time, it has a few features that make it stand out:

First off, it's green.  No other state flag can say that (Delaware comes closest with the teal or whatever it uses for a background).  The green is even in an appropriate shade of dark evergreen, perfect for representing the Evergreen State.  Second, the state is named after George Washington and there he is.  Washington state is nothing if not right to the point.

However, this flag contains the problems that most seal flags share; too much detail and text.  George looks pretty good up there, sort of like a colorized one dollar bill, but that portrait contains far too much detail for a flag.  And of course, the text has got to go.

There are a couple of ways one could go with this flag.  The first I tried was turning George into a silhouette, thus removing the problems of detail and keeping the basic color scheme:

I expanded the portrait a bit so you could now see his shoulders and enlarged it as well.  One criticism I can foresee is that this removes the different colors, but the outline remains both fairly detailed and vague enough that it could be any of the founding fathers (that wig style was popular at the time).  I would disagree with that mostly because you need a little detail to show it is George and not just a random head shadow, but also because the people of Washington are used to seeing him like this.  In Spokane, Seattle, and Bellingham, the symbol used on all state roads is an outline of the first president:

I don't think it would be too much of a stretch for Washingtonians to recognize George from the front as they now do in profile.

My other idea for the Washington flag, but one with which I was never truly satisfied, was to use Mount Rainer, the volcano that dominates the skyline of a large part of the state.  I lived in Seattle for a while and could see it from my apartment most days and was always slightly surprised when I could still see it when I was in Olympia and points east.  I was probably halfway across the state before it would finally sink below the horizon.  The state already uses this mountain on license plates and their state quarter, so maybe it could make the transition to the flag:

In the end, I couldn't decide whether it made more sense for the background or Rainer to be green, and I was never very happy with the outline I used (I felt the green and white provided a nice contrast and couldn't find another color that went well with the green).  To anyone unfamiliar with the state it could just lead to questions like "Why is there a lump on that flag?"  It appears I have again run up against the wall that is MS Paint's (and my own) limitations.  I'll probably end up revisiting this one in the future.

On that note, starting in a few weeks, I'll be going back over the 25 or so flags where I have offered improvements and trying to fix the ones that didn't come out right, mostly based on the suggestions I've received.  On several occasions, I've been given ideas in the comments where I just have to smack myself and wonder why I didn't think of that.  Delaware, Ohio, and Georgia will probably be first, along with the much lamented South Dakota.  After a month or so of "fixing the fixes", I'm thinking of trying my hand at either the Australian state flags or the flags of the various British territories.  If anyone has any instances where the flags I've offered aren't improvements, especially if I've done the flag of your state/province and have totally missed the mark, let me know and I'll do my best to fix the fixes.

Monday, August 8, 2011

New Flag for Hawaii

It's tough to criticize the flag of Hawaii, but I plan to try:

As American state flags go, Hawaii's is good.  There's no text, no complicated seals, and only three colors.  The eight stripes represent the eight main islands.  It also has a great connection to history, as it was originally flown by the Kingdom of Hawaii.  It was created in the 1840's when Hawaii was a British protectorate, but modeled on both the flag of the UK and USA.  The Hawaiian king, Kamehameha III, hoped to appease the Americans (there were American settlers and missionaries on the islands) while showing respect for the British Empire.

As anyone who has seen my fixes for the Canadian provincial flags will know, I'm not a big fan of using the Union Jack on the flags of non-British places (I don't really like how it's used on places that are owned by the British, but we'll get to that if I ever do a Bermuda or Falkland Islands post).  In Canada it was understandable, they still maintain Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state, but the United States fought a war to not be British anymore.

One of the more admirable qualities of this flag is it's attempt to evoke the American flag but with symbolism that is unique to the islands, the number of stripes and their coloring being the most prominent.  With that in mind, I offer the following as a possible replacement:

And just like that, no more United Kingdom.  I can understand the criticism that the stripe colors don't really differentiate it enough from the American flag.  The number of stars is appropriate, since Hawaii was the 50th state, but that could just compound the problem of confusion.  My other thought was to dispose of the canton altogether, producing something like this:

This design also suggests the American flag, but does so in a way that looks less like a direct copy.  The empty blue canton could symbolize the ocean that surrounds the islands and I'm prone to just leaving it empty.  Someone with more artistic skill could easily fill that space with some sort of symbol of the islands (the state fish, the Humuhumunukunukuapua'a, might look snazzy up there), but I for one like the uncluttered look of the blank canton.

Monday, August 1, 2011

New Flag for Kentucky

Another seal on blue flag.  Quick, we need to plan a "You're not original" parade!:

As this flag style goes, Kentucky may be one of my favorites.  Of course, that's like saying the best smelling cow pie, but you know what I mean.  The imagery is at least slightly original and rather than generic depictions of virtue or justice, they've got a frontiersman shaking hands with a city guy (or statesmen, if you believe Kentucky's description).  Of course, all the writing is unnecessary and I'm not a fan of the goldenrod on the lower half.  A flag that promotes allergies is no friend of mine.

According to Kentucky, the people on the flag are not meant to be anyone specific, but the popular idea is that they are Daniel Boone and Henry Clay.  Despite his importance to early America and the events leading to the Civil War, Henry Clay isn't very well known to Americans today.  Daniel Boone is another story and is far more famous (though he is often confused with Davy Crockett).  Boone was a frontiersman, most notable for helping blaze the trail through the Cumberland Gap, leading settlers from Virginia to Kentucky, often breaking British laws in the years before independence to do so.  The thing that really makes him famous was his iconic headgear: the coonskin cap:

This is the second time I've used a hat as the basis for a flag (see Illinois).  I don't count my attempt at a South Dakota flag, because the more I think about it, the more I dislike that one.

The design is highly stylized, reminiscent of the flags which use basic shapes and colors to portray their geography, like The Gambia.  The color choices are meant only to portray a coonskin cap and to be distinguishable from each other.  I actually took the shades from the original Kentucky flag; the tan from the frontiersman's buckskin, the darker brown from the statesman's hair.  I suppose if forced to I could come up with some symbolism for these two colors, but not everything has to stand for something else.  Well, I guess in flags that's usually how it works, so how light brown can represent horses, another thing Kentucky is famous for, and the darker brown can be for darker colored horses.  Nailed it.

One final note, according to historians, Boone never wore a coonskin cap.  But when has what actually happened in history ever stopped Kentucky?