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.

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.

Missouri

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

Simplify.

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.

Almost.

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!

American Samoa

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.