Friday, May 13, 2011

New Utah Flag: More Accurate, Equally Ugly

During the most recent legislative session, our lawmakers changed the Utah state flag, correcting a mistake on it that has been wrong for the last eighty-eight years.

Unfortunately, they left the rest of the flag alone.  Our flag is still the state seal copied and pasted onto a navy blue background.  Or perhaps I should say cut and sewn, since our pioneer forbearers put that ugly thing together without the aid of computers.

I do not blame the pioneers. Pioneers had rough lives.  They had to walk across the plains, grow their own food, and defecate outdoors.  As if all of that weren't bad enough, they also had to design a state flag without the aid of Photoshop. It's perfectly understandable that when flag design was added to their long list of chores, they did a rather shoddy job of it and ignored basic design principles.

I have been thinking about design principles a lot this week.  During that same recent legislative session, Utah lawmakers decided to change the name of the state office I work for, so I have been madly building a new logo, with a new web template and graphics to match.

It is coming along pretty well.  If they had ordered me to make them a new Utah state flag too, I'll bet I could have pulled off something better than the current flag.  I'm not boasting when I say that.  I also believe that any 13 year-old could make a better flag.  In fact, a 13 year-old did design the Alaskan flag, and it is a thousand times better than Utah's.

I worked for a summer at the United States Capitol, where I frequently traveled through a hall which proudly displays a flag from each state.  Actually, flags like Alaska wave proudly.  Utah hangs there like wallflower.  Why would such a beautiful state choose such a drab rag to represent it?

Next session, I think our state legislature should focus its efforts on flag design.  It would be a fun project and might distract them from more damaging legislative endeavors.  Maybe they could be inspired by some of our better state symbols.  The beehive, representing our state slogan of industry, is already incorporated into our current, awful flag, but it is too tiny to see and is surrounded by a busy mess of other items, including pictures of flags, raising two questions:
1.) Didn’t the pioneers anticipate that the flag might be raised aloft and therefore need to have a simple pattern large enough to see from the ground?
2.) Why would you decorate a flag with pictures of flags?

So one solution might be to erase all that other junk and have one large beehive on the flag, with no other distractions.  Or maybe take the bee idea one step further, and just go with a black and yellow striped flag.  In addition to bees, Utahns like sea gulls, our state bird.  How about a nice bird sillouette?  Or what about inspiration from some of our natural wonders?  You can choose a Utah license plate promoting either Delicate Arch or the Greatest Snow on Earth.  A big, red arch or white dots representing snowflakes could look great on a flag, too. 

Of course, not all state symbols are equally inspired.  Also during the most recent legislative session, our delightful lawmakers made Utah the first state to designate an official state gun.  How would that look on a flag? 

No comments:

Post a Comment