U.S. Virgin Islands

You can just tell that this flag came from the military. After the U.S. took control of the “Danish West Indies” in 1917, the new territorial governor installed in 1921 – a Navy real admiral – asked one of his officers to provide a flag. The captain picked a guy who drew a simplified version of the U.S. coat of arms, and in a flash of inspiration, added the letters V and I. To this day, no one knows what the letters stand for… the Roman number 6, maybe? It’s a total mystery.

And it’s on a plain white field, so you can’t even read it as a flag if it’s on a white background.

There is literally nothing good to work with here.

Thank God for the Danes, then. They had a flag of sorts for the colony. It consisted of their own flag in the canton, which we obviously can’t keep, and… a field of light blue. Not much, but it’s something.


Instead of stuffing a red flag with a white cross in the canton, how about putting a diagonal field of red with a white border in the same corner? Tweak the blue a little bit to better represent the Caribbean Sea, and we’re done.

Wyoming

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you can probably figure this one out for yourself. Wyoming has a fairly straightforward red, white, and blue graphic design with a simple white silhouette of a bison in the middle.

But some idiot put the state seal in the middle of the bison. The seal of course has the name of the state, a motto, a year, and an illustration. Plus the idiot didn’t leave a margin around the seal, so it almost touches the edges of the bison. A sadly elementary graphic-design fuck up.

How do we fix this?


That’s right: remove the fucking state seal.

United States

I’m gonna catch holy hell for doing this one, so I might as well get it over with.

The U.S. flag is a mess. It really is. It follows a few of the principles of good flag design, such as using just a few colors, and being distinctive (before others started copying it). But it drops the ball in a big way with simplicity.

Betsy Ross was pushing it by including a stripe for each and every one of the 13 colonies that were joining to form the union. Also including 13 stars was redundantly gilding the lily, though at least she found a nice pattern for them, so it’s identifiable as a thing in itself – a circle – not just a bunch of stars.

Then they started adding states. At first they not only added a new star for each one, but also a new stripe. They realized pretty quickly that they were making an already bad design worse, and reverted to the bad design, with 13 stripes. But they Kept! Adding! Stars! 13 was already too many, and now we’re stuck with 50 of the damn things. (And more, once we finally do the right thing and give statehood to D.C. and Puerto Rico.) Do you have any idea how many schoolkids have been reduced to tears, trying to figure out how to draw 50 fucking stars on their U.S. flag? It’s shameful.

The flag of Texas takes the U.S. flag and minimalizes the hell out of it: one star, one red stripe, one white stripe. I like that, but it goes farther than necessary. A “United States” flag needs to have stripes: plural. It just doesn’t need thirt-fucking-teen of them.

Instead of unlucky 13 stripes, lucky 7 stripes is enough. It doesn’t symbolize anything in particular, but that’s OK because it doesn’t have to. An odd number is good for vertical symmetry, which is nice to have in a design. Having an area of white on the edge of a flag is a bit of a problem if you don’t have a gray background on your web site, after all. (Which is where Texas screwed up. Russia too.)

Ross’ arrangement of the original 13 stars was a nice touch… there’s a reason that flag gets hauled out from time to time. So I’ve revived the circle, now as… a circle. With a big star in the middle, and that does symbolize something: it’s 1 country now, not 50-something states.

There are already 51-star and 52-star designs that have been figured out, for when/if we make states out of our two largest territories. But rather than adopting those, it would make more sense to take advantage of the opportunity to adopt a new flag that will never be obsolete.

Canada

Canada’s national flag is just fine. I really like this one. I might’ve made the red bars a little narrower, because (typical of Canadian flags) it’s pretty wide, but I certainly can’t do better.

Happy Canada Day, eh!

In general, national flags are pretty good, because most of them either date back to an ancient time when people instinctively went for iconic designs, or they’re modern enough that this aesthetic has come back. Plus, they’re high-profile enough that someone usually takes the trouble to do it right. Canada’s is a pretty modern flag – adopted in 1965 – so it falls into the latter group.

It replaces a god-awful 19th-century design that breaks the rules of good flag design into tiny pieces, by combining the tiny pieces of other flags. The “Canadian Red Ensign” committed the popular imperial sin of shoving the Union Jack – itself already a messy, compound flag – into the canton. It supplemented this fuck-up with a shield that combines symbols of… deep breath… England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and… a red three-maple-leaf thing that was used sometimes to identify Canada. Someone had the good sense to pick that out and focus on it it (a strategy I’ve taken with some of my flags here), and promote it into a national flag.

(Next, I do the United States, and get banned from my own country.)

Georgia

The history of the flags of Georgia is a long history of horrible, racist, and sometimes horrible and racist flags. Instead of just showing you the latest flag and my replacement, I think it’s instructive to look back at the whole history of Georgia’s flags. If nothing else, it’ll show you how little I had to work with that could be salvaged.

The state’s original flag was your standard American abomination: the state seal on a field of blue. Even in its fairly simple form, it’s an illustration of a person and several words, in a fussy mess that looks like every other crappy state flag. The fact that it was hastily created to fill the need for a state flag in the South’s war of treason against the United States just makes it worse.

Fifteen years after losing that war, the state adopted a proper flag. It’s not technically a bad design… purely as flag designs go. But it’s a little derivative, and it was adopted as a very deliberate homage to the flag of a certain federation of which Georgia was a founding member.

No, not the United States. The Confederate States. For comparison, here is the official flag of the CSA, which was nicknamed “The Stars and Bars”. You’d probably guess by now that I don’t care for the circle of stars, which is too cluttered, but otherwise it isn’t a horrible design… except that it fails the most fundamental purpose of a flag, which was to be easily recognized on the battlefield. This dumb-as-fuck design looked too much like the flag of the country they were in treason against especially in battle, which literally confused people who were trying to kill each other, and that’s why this flag never became popular, even among racists. Instead, racists fondly remember the battle flag. You know that one.

In 1902, Georgia combined their Confederacy-wannabe flag with their regiment-of-the-Confederate-army flag, by stuffing their state seal into the smaller field of blue. I’m not gonna show that one, because you can figure it out in your head. A few years later, they added the word “GEORGIA” and replaced the seal with… a worse version of the seal. I’m not gonna show that one, because I am not a cruel person. In 1920 they redrew the seal as a white circle with blue lines, and the date 1776 to pretend that they’d forgotten about 1861 and now considered themselves part of the United States.

In the 1956, the legislature of Georgia realized that they were entering modern times, so they adopted a new flag without all that baggage of the past, one that represented the future…. oh, who am I kidding? They pulled down their pants and squeezed out a turd to show their contempt for the present and the future, inserted their heads into the vacancy, and replaced the bars that were too much like the stripes of the United States flag, with the fucking Battle Flag of the Confederacy, to show just how racist the white people of Georgia still were. P.S. it’s also an ugly design, shoving two incompatible flags together.

This lasted until 2001. Incredible.

With the 21st century underway, there was considerable pressure for Georgia to give up on the fucking Confederacy and join the 20th century. The governor, bless his heart, proposed and rammed thru a replacement. Which was god-awful in oh so many ways.

The state seal was the focus again. But with the 13 stars representing the original colonies Confederate states around it. And a dumb-as-fuck, ugly-as-shit banner showing previous flags flown over Georgia. The original Betsy Ross flag. The Confederate regimental flag. The neo-Confederate seal flag. The neo-Confederate battle flag. And the U.S. flag. And “IN GOD WE TRUST” at the bottom, just to make sure that people also understood that freedom of religion is a lie. This is the flag that earned Georgia the position of 72nd out of 72 in the North American Vexillological Assocation’s survey of U.S./Canadian flags. It’s that fucking bad.

Hint: you can’t fix the problem of having Confederate symbols on the flag by making them smaller, in a design that looks absofuckinglutely horrible.

The “good” news is that this flag was so bad that the state legislature was prompted to replace it. Which could have been a happy ending. But they replaced it with this. That’s right: the actually went back to the Confederate States of America flag design, this time with the state seal and the stars honoring the 13 Confederate states.

Fuck that shit. Fuck all of that shit. I can’t even.

Georgia’s new flag doesn’t get to use the colors of the Confederate flags. Too many feeble attempts to pass them off as U.S. colors. Instead it gets the 1879 flag redone in the colors of Georgia’s most famous crop: peaches. Still leaves a sour taste in my mouth, but it’s at least a cromulent flag.