Last modified: 2016-07-15 by rob raeside
Keywords: flag competitions | flag design |
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It doesn't matter if it's a village, state, or country that's looking to design a new flag, if you are asked to assist, I suggest the following:
First, it's important at the very beginning to realize that Vexillologists don't necessarily make good Vexillographers. Understand your strengths and weaknesses before agreeing to assist any flag design committee. You may still walk a committee through the process, but you might want to personally stay away from actual design issues.
Once you know the above and have decided to join the committee, then:
This rule was really really hard for me during the Mississippi flag referendum. There was even a point where the committee looked me and said "you design it". I said "no". The process was too far underway to abandon our initial design strategy.
Speaking of strategy, this is where you might really sway a flag design committee. Have them put on a flag design contest. It's not necessarily the committee's job to design the flag.
I thought that is was imperative that the new Mississippi design come from within Mississippi, or at least from a native. I also encouraged the committee that it was OK for several people to be potentially credited with the new design. Experience told me that a definitive design may never come across the table and it may be necessary to borrow from several designs to get what we were after.
I forgot how many thousands of designs came through, but a theme began to materialize where quite a few entries simply replaced the Confederate canton with a field of stars. Some were so similar, that we knew we had our basic design. We felt it important to give all those designers credit if the proposed flag had won at the ballot box. I believe maybe 8 or 9 people were going to receive the credit. I think their ages ranged from 7 or 8 years of age up to retirement age.
The one rule we gave everyone entering the contest was straight forward. Proposals sent to the design committee were to be simple, distinctive and recognizable at a distance. That was it!
I have one more "don't" to throw in. If I offend anyone, I apologize on the front end.
Then, regardless of what type of flag it is, determine if there is any past flag history. It could be that there is already a flag available that would serve your constituency well, making a new design unnecessary. It would ultimately be up to the committee to make the call, but you would have done your part.
In presenting my US state flag proposals, I reintroduced old flags where I could. From there, I attempted to salvage something from current flags in order to introduce something different, yet simultaneously familiar. Flag committees will appreciate your thoughtfulness. There’s no need to completely reinvent the wheel unless there was no wheel to begin with.
Once more, I can recommend some basic do’s and don’ts, but at the end of the day, you’re the Vexillographer in charge.
I have always wanted to design a solid colored flag of some sort with a single device placed below the line of the illustration below. It would be most unusual design, but it would also be practical. Take a look at Colonel S.B. Webb’s Regimental flag.image by Clay Moss, 31 October 2005
I don’t who designed the flag, but I can tell you that they were very observant and had paid a lot of attention to fluttering flags. This is easily one of the most ingenious flag designs I have seen. The designer knew that the defacement would be seen much more easily if placed where it was. Placing the device in the upper hoist or in the middle of the flag may have been the more traditional thing to do, but placing it low and a bit toward the hoist guaranteed that it would be visible under the greatest number of circumstances.
Clay Moss, 30-31 October 2005