Sometimes there’s a good design hidden in a bad one.
Missouri’s flag is one of the many with a state seal crapped in the middle of it. The seal has an array of 24 stars at the top, to indicate that Missouri was the 24th state. But they circled the seal with another 24 stars, to indicate that Missouri was the 24th state. At least it isn’t on a plain field of blue, like most of the seal-on-a-sheet state flags.
The seal includes the motto “united we stand, divided we fall” which is fucking ironic, because one of the design elements of the seal is a belt buckle, which symbolizes the state joining the Union… but still being able to unbuckle (i.e. secede and join a racist slave-holding confederacy… which to be fair, it did not… but they thought about it).
The seal also features two bears, which a least are native to part of the state. No, wait, there’s a third bear in silhouette inside the crest the bears are holding. Give me a fucking… wait a minute.
If you magnify that crest inside the seal, there are a couple neat design elements: a bear on a red background (it’s supposed to represent strength and bravery), and a crescent moon on a blue background (representing the newness and potential of the state, which is obsolete but a nice idea).
I’ve extracted the crescent and bear, and made them the focus of the design, incorporating them into the red/white/blue stripes of the existing Missouri flag. These stripes are flipped from the old flag, to match the combinations from the crest, which is important because it keeps the crescent against a blue sky.
North Dakota’s flag is yet another crappy flag, created by just slapping emblems on a blue background and calling it a flag. In this case, they spelled out the name of the state (sigh), added a direct copy of the eagle from the U.S. seal, even down to the “E Pluribus Unum” motto (SIGH), and threw in thirteen stars, because… Betsy Ross (SIGH)! There almost nothing remotely original or distinctive about it.
The solution was… simple. Remove the name. Remove the U.S. Seal and Motto. Remove all but one of the stars, and enlarge it. And enlarge the halo/crown to match. There ya go!
Colorado’s flag is pretty good: a fairly classical stripes-of-color design with a central thingy to give it some individual character… and that thingy isn’t their damn state seal.
I almost left it alone, except for one thing. That central thingy is a C for Colorado. That violates one of my rules, which is that it’s OK for flags, to be red, but flags shouldn’t be read.
But since it’s otherwise a fairly good design, I left it alone and merely modified the central thingy into something that might not be a C, depending on how you look at it. I’m not sure what else it would be (hint: it’s Pac-Man), but that’s OK, because flags can – and should – be abstract.
Not all bad flags need a major overhaul. Sometimes you have a cromulent flag design that’s spoiled by just one thing. That’s American Samoa’s.
American Samoa is a territory of several islands that you probably know nothing about, except maybe that Mike Bloomberg and Tulsi Gabbard won the delegates in its Democratic presidential caucus. It’s an odd place. It’s in the south Pacific Ocean, kinda sorta near New Zealand, but just east of the International Date Line. About 55,000 U.S. citizens – most of Samoan ancestry – live there.
We have to call it American Samoa because there’s also Just Plain Samoa, the part of the archipelago which was ruled by New Zealand until it gained independence in the 1960s. American Samoa does most of its trade with the rest of the U.S., and gets financial support from the federal government, so it seems destined to remain an imperial territory indefinitely. After tuna fishing, joining the U.S. military then collecting veterans’ benefits seems to be part of their economic model.
To be honest, I just don’t like the eagle on the flag. It’s an attempt to incorporate the U.S. Seal into the design, which is generally a bad idea: seals don’t belong on flags (unless maybe it’s an actual seal). Also, there are no eagles in the Samoan islands, so it doesn’t represent the territory in any way. With its attacking profile, it seems overly militaristic, which is just a bad thing to enshrine in a banner. (I wasn’t surprised to find that the design was chosen by the Army after World War 2.) And ultimately, the flag looks fine without it.
This post is at half-mast out of respect for those killed in the recent mass shooting in Nova Scotia. 🙁
The flag of Nova Scotia is trying to explain to people what Nova Scotia means: It’s Latin for New Scotland. To make the point extra clear, they doubled down on it:
- First: the red and yellow shield in the middle is Scotland’s royal coat of arms.
- Second: the background is a reversal of the national flag of Scotland. Instead of a white saltire on a blue field, it’s a blue saltire on a white field. (It isn’t an exact copy: for some reason, Canadian flags are all wider than your typical flags.)
(The Scottish flag is better known as part of the UK’s “Union Jack”, which combines the flags of England, Scotland, and (Northern) Ireland into that blue-white-and-red crisscross mess. It uses a different shade of blue, however.)
As readers of this blog know, I hate shields on flags. So fixing this flag was really, really simple: ditch the overly detailed, clashing-colors coat of arms of a country it isn’t formally connected to… and there you go, New Scotland: you’re done. It’s a simple, elegant design, and if you’re trying to say “we’re a wee bit like Scotland, but no’ actually Scotland”… that’s the way to do it.