Purple Prose

•23 February 2011 • 1 Comment

Hoist and fly a new fresh design which references Nature’s beauty in the skies of Minnesota. Fly it joyfully and proudly, knowing that it is unlike any other flag in the country—perhaps even in the World. The “Star of the North” flag embodies  all of Nature’s Seasons in colors—blue skies by night and by day; snowy white hillsides or Summer’s white clouds and below, green of prairies and croplands. Over it all—the large five-pointed white Star in the scene.

Picture the new flag flying high on tall flag staffs, out of doors. Or, in rows as it pass by in a parade; or at patriotic or sporting events. All parts of the design large and clear and easily seen and understood by all who see them—-young and old. Visualize a proud moment for all Minnesotans as they fly the North Star flag at their homes.


Minnesota’s Skies=Minnesota’s Flag

•25 January 2010 • 1 Comment

The ‘Special Art’ of Flag Designing

•18 October 2008 • Leave a Comment

Maybe designing flags is not really that especially different from the elements of making Art that an Art student is introduced to as basic to almost everything to be learned as beginning “rules” in any Art curriculum. Courses titled: Composition; Elements of Art; Design I; Color I, etc.,–beginners’ work.

Vexillology; from the Latin word “vexillum;” which was the name for a “flag” of ancient Roman cavalry–actually these were more like “standards;” more like plaques, tablets or posters–or small flags similar to what the military call GUIDONS.

Even earlier than Roman use of such markers, among Egyptian carved reliefs there are seen, plaque-like shapes with insignia atop staffs being carried in processions.

Origination of the word, “vexillology” is credited to Dr. Whitney Smith, long-time flag-guru of NAVA who coined the term when still a teen-ager, at a time when his unending research in the history, heraldry, and designing of flags had so early begun. (see Sidebar)

My own interest in the study of flags came late–after teaching Art for thirty years in a Minnesota State University. It is known that “ART” as a vocation, is really a life-long dedication–the connection of it to one’s life never ends when the Academic studio door is shut upon leaving the premises. I’d have to classify my turn to flags at the first stage as a “vexillophile”–a hobbyist; that is, collecting colorful designs, interesting stories of a flag’s origin, its meaning to the people whom it represented as well as the pride in which the flag was held by patriots of a state. Still an amateur, but rising to the level of “vexillographer”, a designer; revived my prolonged immersion in the world of Art; most all of the rudimentary aspects of Art emerged. This is the serious hobby that has begun. The shapes, the colors, the symbolism of them, the response to a demanding need to make an old, tired design “better” in all the ways one is able.

Continue reading ‘The ‘Special Art’ of Flag Designing’

Minnesota Flag Proposal from JD Makepeace

•13 February 2008 • 1 Comment

Recent contact with Jonathan Makepeace regarding his Vermont State flag design yielded a greeting and a present– his own design for a new Minnesota State flag:

Dear Minnesotans et al.,

Having recently received email from people trying to replace the state flag https://newmnflag.com/ , I decided to toss my attached proposal
into the ring.

Makepeace proposal for Minnesota

The state takes its name from the Minnesota River. The name
“Minnesota” means sky-tinted or slightly cloudy (sota) water (minne) in the Dakota language. This morning I was reading a poem that referred to something reflecting on water and this flag proposal popped into my head. Water is central to Minnesota’s identity, and the design is meant to simultaneously evoke the sky reflecting on water, cloudy water, flowing water, and, more generally, progress.

It’s also up on the Web.

Critiques are welcome.



Flags of other States in Question

•15 January 2008 • Leave a Comment

Minnesota State FlagWhile we have been looking at a few other major changes made in flags, we must say something about the activity for change that is taking place in other U.S. states. We thought that some of the proposals were not improvements, like those that felt the need to add their state’s name to the older design. Like over two dozen flags, from a distance—just 30 feet above the ground—all one could see is a small version of the state seal, or Coat of Arms or just a pleasant scene. When a State chooses to put its name on a flag, it shows it is insecure in its symbolism. There has to be something more symbolic and straight-forward in any state than simply writing its name on the flag. I wrote about this legislative susceptibility in an earlier post.

UtahLooking about the Web, we found many strong and exciting flag-design proposals. But, before we get to the standout designs, we’d like to show the final design selection of the “winner” of a contest conducted by the Salt Lake Tribune for a new Utah State Flag. Continue reading ‘Flags of other States in Question’

“WHAT’S SO BAD ABOUT IT?” Minnesota’s Flag, I Mean…

•27 December 2007 • Leave a Comment

Zervic ImageWhen you look at some of the other state’s flags from among those that are considered “small indistinguishable designs on blue bed sheets,” I guess we could say that MINNESOTA’S state flag is no more trite, outmoded and “look alike,” than any of the others. And we’d probably agree that those other ones are really pretty dull and blah. But, that is the problem of the others; Minnesota’s is OUR flag and if we can also agree that it needs changing to a design that is clean, fresh, less complicated and easily recognized– then WE can make a choice to change it. Continue reading ‘“WHAT’S SO BAD ABOUT IT?” Minnesota’s Flag, I Mean…’

Native Americans and State Flag Designs

•26 December 2007 • Leave a Comment

There isn’t one state among all of the fifty states that does not have among its villages, towns, and cities, rivers, lakes, and landscapes, the name of an aboriginal nation, tribe, or renowned Native American chieft or hero. If not taken directly from tribes and chieft, the names derive from terms or descriptions of nature coined by Native Americans. Our geography is in their debt.

And, after lengthy study of the 50 state flags, we noticed how Native Americans have fared in the connections we have made to the nation’s fifty state flags. To begin: two of the U.S. state flags’ designs are directly derived from known Native Americans.

AlaskaFirst: The flag of Alaska was designed while Alaska was still a Territory by a 13-year-old Native American boy named Bennie Benson. He was of Russian/Aleut and Swedish ancestry, living in a territorial school for boys. His flag design was adopted as the Territorial flag in 1926, and made the Alaska Territory’s official flag in 1957; then, upon Alaska’s admission to statehood in 1959, became the 49th state’s flag. “The blue of the forget-me-not flower and the gold of the Big Dipper.” Bennie’s flag is a clear, simple, and elegant rendition of a tribute to nature. (In 1959, Alaska geographically replaced Minnesota as the northernmost state in the U.S.) Continue reading ‘Native Americans and State Flag Designs’


•5 September 2007 • Leave a Comment

State Flag QuitAfter studying the fifty U.S. state flags for some time, you begin to notice a few that don’t seem to fit in with the more average–and duller– designs. When the very ordinary ones are assembled, like a quilt, twenty-five of them look like this. Like 25 peas in apod–if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen practically all of them.

The first things you note are the flags that stand out because of their attractive designs, like the ones we have pointed out before, e.g., New Mexico, Texas, Maryland, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, and a few others. However, others are noticed because of designs and symbols that each implies or sometimes curiously overstates.

These could be useful as subjects for a “50-state Flag Trivia” series of questions.

For Example:

1.) What U.S. State flag acknowledges another nation, which figured in the U.S. territory’s early history, and includes the image of the first nation’s flag in its flag design? Continue reading ‘FOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT U. S. STATES’ FLAGS’

Flags Do Change

•15 August 2007 • Leave a Comment

Taking on a campaign to influence the powers that be to investigate the idea of redesigning national flags is a formidable challenge. But, in the end, to finally achieve the triumph that had been set forth makes a country proud of its new flag and what its new symbolism comes to mean to all its citizens.

We in the USA have had changes in our flag since we fought the Revolutionary War—from 1776 until today. Our flag has been changed every time that new states were added to the Union. As recently as 1959 our flag was changed to recognize the admission of Alaska, and then Hawaii, to statehood. It is true that when stars were added to the blue of the canton, no one considered these major changes; we expected the star additions.

But Canada, from the same early days, was claimed by Britain, held as part of the U.K. Commonwealth, and still is. The United Kingdom’s territories, as such, are not as large as in earlier times. Many have demanded their own nationhood and freedom from the English crown. Canada had long lived under the flag, which was marked in the canton by the British Union Jack with a shield in lower right position–signifying four royal houses, England, Scotland, Ireland, and France—with red maple leaves at the baseCanadian flag before 1965 of the shield, all on a field of red. (Incidentally, maple leaves had been shown as green until 1957.) This flag was known as the British Red Ensign. Continue reading ‘Flags Do Change’


•12 June 2007 • Leave a Comment

A guy said, when looking at my newMNflag-design promotion card, “Do you mean your new second design or a new design toanatomy of a flag replace the 1893 Minnesota flag?” I said, “Both, really.”

The earlier design effort didn’t convince many and the pattern layout now seems less suitable than the new one. Then, too, it became tiresome explaining that this old design of mine seemed much like the ideas for flags that others were promoting. So my first attempt was retired to become a  personal flag. New Minnesota Flag, as a blog title, is the current proposal to change the old state flag. Continue reading ‘Concept/Create’

What to Fly?

•1 May 2007 • Leave a Comment

The flag pole at our place is about seventy-five yards from the country road that goes past. It is visible from the road to a point where our lane makes a bend. I remember that we made it from replaced drop pipe from a country well. It rises in the air to more than thirty feet and on its concrete base is engraved the date it was put up: 25 May 1986.

USAOnce we had it up we had to decide: What flag would we fly from it? The first choice was obvious, I suppose. We ran up the Stars and Stripes, at first raising it in the morning and lowering it at night. Later, our habits grew relaxed and we didn’t much bother with the ceremony and seldom took it down. We soon discovered that if the flag is allowed to fly in most all kinds of weather, then it is best to invest in a sturdy outdoor nylon one—printed polyester flags just can’t survive the inclement weather, especially high winds, for long. Continue reading ‘What to Fly?’

Construction Sheet

•15 April 2007 • 2 Comments

Proposed Flag-diagram

First Flight

•1 April 2007 • Leave a Comment

First Flight_web

March 20, 2007. Place : near Rollag, Minnesota . Wind gusts to 30 MPH.

The Cost Effects…

•24 March 2007 • Leave a Comment

I’ve not checked this out thoroughly, but it is probably a good guess that at least forty of the fifty state flags are produced by silk-screen printing (serigraphy) because of the highly detailed state seals, or scenics, set in the center of their many blue fields, like Minnesota’s current flag. This process is the only way: certainly the age is past the labor-intensive older techniques of embroidering or applique. (Some of the detailed schemes are printed separately and later sewn into the center of the fields.) Continue reading ‘The Cost Effects…’

“Tagging” the Flag

•17 March 2007 • 1 Comment

Did you ever wonder what motivates the persons in state government positions who have charge of aesthetics assignments in regard to the art and advertising that promotes a state’s interests?

Are they the same who make decisions about the appearance of their state’s flag, for instance? Are they merely being responsive to the attention of the people who may have grown tired of or doubtful that their flag is being acknowledged by others? Who causes the change in design of a state flag? Continue reading ‘“Tagging” the Flag’


•16 March 2007 • Leave a Comment

UkraineWhen talking about one of the rules for designing a good flag, that of recommending scarcity of detail,  a philosopher could apply Occam’s Razor. That is, that from a number of explanations or reasons affecting a solution or answer, the choice is to pick the briefest, most clear conclusion.

In the same context in the world of art and architecture of the recent past, there arose a period that came to be called Minimalism. Mies van der Rohe and Buckminster Fuller often used the expression, “Less is More.” Like Occam’s Razor, the final solution is shorn of extraneousness; details fall away and simplicity is the result. Continue reading ‘Minimalism’

Reasons to Change the Minnesota State Flag

•5 March 2007 • 1 Comment

(with help from Brian Sweeney, New Zealand))

A flag should be the highly visible symbol of a state’s “presence.” It must be recognizable, flying in the wind, from a distance. Because the current Minnesota flag, since one minor change in 1957, does not resonate with Minnesotans, it is not very often flown. It is seen mainly at the Capitol, county courthouses, city halls, and ceremonies. Images and writing about the Minnesota flag are rarely seen on merchandise for sale in gift shops. Pictures of the flag are not found, for instance, on road maps offered to the public at Minnesota’s rest stop counters. The logo is not treated as a popular item. A visit to other states in America will show examples of what flags can mean to residents there as strong emotional symbols. For example, the Lone Star Flag in the State of Texas “resonates.”


Continue reading ‘Reasons to Change the Minnesota State Flag’

“L’Etoile du Nord”

•13 February 2007 • Leave a Comment

“L’Etoille du Nord” “La premiere qualite d’un drapeau (personnel, regional, national, etc.) est de plaire a celui ou ceux qu’il represente…a quoi bon dessiner un drapeau parfait si personne n’a envie de le defendre?” -Philippe Bondurand

“The Star of the North” “The FIRST quality of a flag (personal, regional, national, etc.) is that it must please those it represents….What is the use of a perfect flag if no one wants to support it.” (Translation).