I’m proud to announce that I’m a finalist for the official flag of Galveston, Texas! If you like the design, it would mean a lot to me if you voted for it and shared it so that it has a good chance of becoming official. Galveston deserves a great flag!
On Reddit, this design received over 7800 upvotes, nine awards and near unanimous praise from other vexillologists. Locals said it felt like a festive, beach-themed version of the Texan flag – exactly what I was going for. We all want the best for Galveston!
Here is my proposal for the flag of Galveston, Texas. It is simple enough to be remembered by a child but distinctive enough to be recognised at a distance.
The overall layout represents the geography of Galveston, a diagonal island. The two blue sections represent the ocean and shipping industry as Galveston was one of America’s biggest ports. The two golden stripes represent the beaches that attract many visitors. One shore faces the mainland and the other faces the wider world, representing how the port acts as a gateway to America. The red represents the life and energy of Galveston’s people. The star represents the pride of Galveston as it punches above its weight.
Here is a map of the island of Galveston to understand what I was going for with the layout:
The flag also references the history of Galveston. Red and gold are borrowed from the naval flag of the Spanish Empire. The diagonal layout is borrowed from the first flag of Mexico. The red, white, blue and star are borrowed from the flags of Texas and America.
The current situation / Η τρέχουσα κατάσταση / Mevcut durum
The island of Cyprus is split between Northern Cyprus and the Republic of Cyprus as a result of an ongoing dispute. There are constant talks of reuniting the island and this scenario would require a new flag. In 2004, the United Nations sponsored the “Annan Plan” for reunification which failed when put to a referendum. This scheme had a proposed flag design for United Cyprus but there are several problems with this flag. Firstly, it is too plain and uninspiring. Secondly, it uses blue all the way on one side to represent Greeks and red all the way on the other side to represent Turks, which emphasises division and separation. It may be true in real life that these populations are divided, but a flag representing unity should be optimistic and remind people of harmony rather than conflict. Thirdly, the layout puts one population on top of the other which could suggest a hierarchy to some. Therefore, here is my proposal.
Το νησί της Κύπρου χωρίζεται μεταξύ της Βόρειας Κύπρου και της Κυπριακής Δημοκρατίας ως αποτέλεσμα μιας συνεχιζόμενης διαμάχης. Υπάρχουν συνεχείς συνομιλίες για την επανένωση του νησιού και αυτό το σενάριο θα απαιτούσε νέα σημαία. Το 2004, τα Ηνωμένα Έθνη χρηματοδότησαν το «Σχέδιο Ανάν» για επανένωση που απέτυχε όταν τέθηκε σε δημοψήφισμα. Αυτό το σχέδιο είχε έναν προτεινόμενο σχεδιασμό σημαίας για την United Cyprus, αλλά υπάρχουν πολλά προβλήματα με αυτήν τη σημαία. Πρώτον, είναι πολύ απλό και δεν εμπνέει. Δεύτερον, χρησιμοποιεί το μπλε από τη μια πλευρά για να εκπροσωπήσει τους Έλληνες και το κόκκινο από την άλλη πλευρά για να εκπροσωπήσει τους Τούρκους, το οποίο δίνει έμφαση στη διαίρεση και τον χωρισμό. Μπορεί να ισχύει στην πραγματική ζωή ότι αυτοί οι πληθυσμοί είναι χωρισμένοι, αλλά μια σημαία που αντιπροσωπεύει την ενότητα πρέπει να είναι αισιόδοξη και να υπενθυμίζει στους ανθρώπους την αρμονία και όχι τις συγκρούσεις. Τρίτον, η διάταξη βάζει έναν πληθυσμό πάνω από τον άλλο, ο οποίος θα μπορούσε να προτείνει κάποια ιεραρχία σε ορισμένους. Επομένως, εδώ είναι η πρότασή μου.
Kıbrıs adası, devam eden bir anlaşmazlık nedeniyle Kuzey Kıbrıs ile Kıbrıs Cumhuriyeti arasında bölünmüştür. Adayı yeniden birleştirme konusunda sürekli görüşmeler yapılıyor ve bu senaryo yeni bir bayrak gerektiriyor. 2004’te Birleşmiş Milletler, referanduma sunulduğunda başarısız olan yeniden birleşme için “Annan Planı” na sponsor oldu. Bu şema Birleşik Kıbrıs için önerilen bir bayrak tasarımına sahipti, ancak bu bayrakla ilgili birkaç sorun var. Çok sade ve sönük. Bir yanda Yunanlıları temsil etmek için mavi, diğer yanda Türkleri temsil etmek için kırmızıyı kullanır, bu da bölünmeyi ve ayrılığı vurgular. Gerçek hayatta bu nüfusların bölündüğü doğru olabilir, ancak birliği temsil eden bir bayrak iyimser olmalı ve insanlara çatışmadan ziyade uyumu hatırlatmalıdır. Düzen, bazılarına bir hiyerarşi önerebilecek bir popülasyonu diğerinin üzerine koyar. Bu nedenle, işte benim teklifim.
Note: My choice of designs do not reflect my political opinions.
Σημείωση: Η επιλογή των σχεδίων μου δεν αντικατοπτρίζει τις πολιτικές μου απόψεις.
Not: Tasarım tercihlerim politik görüşlerimi yansıtmıyor.
The current flag of Massachusetts is a typical American-style seal-on-a-bedsheet design, and as a result it is convoluted, unmemorable and uninspiring. In 2020, the flag came under intense scrutiny because the design seems to imply colonial violence: There is a sword hanging above a Native American figure, the beginning of the motto translates to “by the sword we seek peace” and the artistic rendering was directly based on figures and artifacts involved with killings of Native Americans. There is ongoing pressure with many groups and towns endorsing a redesign of the flag. As of 2021, the state senate and governor have officially decided to redesign the state seal and flag. Therefore, here is my proposal.
We need an official flag of Earth. We live in an unprecedented times where all the people of the world are connected together and aware of global issues, but are at risk of being divided. The planet itself under threat from destructive forces. Ecosystems around the world are dying, collapsing and on fire. We have a flag for every single place, except for the place that is most important of all. We have a flag for every single homeland, except for the land that is home to every human being. We have a flag for every single cause, except for the single largest cause in the history of our whole species. We have no consistent symbol for our entire home, yet we clearly need to express that right now.
When we want to represent global co-operation, what flag do we use? When we protest the planet’s environmental issues, what flag do we fly? When we celebrate events like Earth Day, what flag emoji do we use in our message?
There are a few options but they do not cut it. The most famous global flag is the flag of the United Nations but that represents the organisation and not the whole planet. Some people use a photograph of the planet Earth but that is not appropriate for a flag. There are other proposals but they are messy or unintuitive. We need a good, simple, catchy flag to represent our planet.
Here are all the Australian flag designs I made over the years. Like my New Zealand flag proposals, I put in a lot of effort researching and designing these proposals. This time, James Fitzmaurice was only indirectly involved. Australia has not had an official flag competition or referendum yet but I’ll be ready once it happens!
Proposed flags of Australia by Brian Cham.
As with all design, the how and the why is more important than the what. I used the same process as my New Zealand flag designs so I’ll just summarise that here.
After that, the article lists each of my proposals.
Flag of the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party) / 國民黨的旗幟
The current flag of Taiwan is a historical relic inherited from the Republic of China, which ruled mainland China over seventy years ago. Now it is confined to the island of Taiwan and the country is simply known as Taiwan to everybody. Moreover, it is based on the flag of a single political party, the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party). This may have made sense when Taiwan was a one-party state, but not when Taiwan is now a multi-party democracy in which the Kuomintang is just one of many political parties.
In recent years, Taiwan has shifted towards a strong, local, independent identity, especially the younger generations. For example, a poll by National Chengchi University shows that the majority of the population now identify as “Taiwanese” rather than “Chinese”, and this is constantly rising. Also, in July 2020, the Taiwanese passport was officially redesigned to emphasise the name “Taiwan” instead of “Republic of China”. There have been many such changes from the 2000s onwards.
The island of Ireland is currently split between the Republic of Ireland in the south and Northern Ireland (part of the United Kingdom) in the north. Each side has their own flag, but there is no single neutral design to represent the whole of Ireland. This is a problem when there are many all-Ireland organisations and sporting-teams. Many of these compete internationally but cannot use an official neutral all-Ireland flag because no such design exists. Instead, each one uses their own ad hoc compromise design. A well-known example is the Four Provinces flag (displayed above) that just combines the individual flags of each of Ireland’s four provinces so as to represent the entire island in a disunited, clumsy and complex way.
Compare this situation with the Korean peninsula: Although it is split between North Korea and South Korea, there is a single neutral official flag to represent the whole of Korea for joint organisations and sporting teams.
There is another big reason why an all-Ireland flag is needed. In the future, Northern Ireland may vote to leave the United Kingdom and unite with the rest of Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement stipulates that a referendum for Irish unification can be held if public support is high enough. As The Economist notes, this possibility is actually becoming likelier by the day. If the cause for Irish unification escalates into a realistic possibility, it will require an acceptable symbol that is neutral and not associated with only one side.
Therefore, here is my proposal.
Note: My choice of designs do not reflect my political opinions.
The current flag of Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region of China) consists of a bauhinia flower and five stars on a red field. Although this design was created by a local and contains a native flower, it was adopted under strict oversight by the Chinese government. The dominance of the colour red and the five stars, all borrowed from the Chinese flag, are a result of this. The relationship between Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China has come under growing scrutiny, so many Hongkongers feel that their flag reminds them more of China’s power than Hong Kong’s identity and no longer represents them. Therefore, here is my proposal.
New Caledonia’s strange and controversial flag situation: The flag of FLNKS party (left) and the flag of France (right) are co-official… but there is no single flag for the whole of New Caledonia itself. Situation étrange et controversée en Nouvelle-Calédonie: le drapeau du parti FLNKS (à gauche) et le drapeau de la France (à droite) sont co-officiels … mais il n’existe pas de drapeau unique pour la Nouvelle-Calédonie.
New Caledonia’s flag situation is bizarre by world standards. Instead of a single flag, it currently has two co-official flags, neither of which represents the whole of New Caledonia. One is the flag of France itself. The other is the flag of FLNKS, the political coalition that represents the Kanak indigenous people. This compromise was condemned as clumsy, divisive, controversial and unrepresentative. The situation was even spurned by important leaders at the time like the President of the Government of New Caledonia, the representative of New Caledonia to the National Assembly and the mayor of Nouméa. Critics pointed to the principles of the Nouméa Accord (the 1998 agreement between the French government and FLNKS) which expresses the wish for a “common destiny” for all communities. Many New Caledonians have demanded a single new flag that would express a common identity for all of New Caledonia. There have been existing proposals, but these designs are quite complex. Therefore, here is my proposal.
La situation du drapeau de la Nouvelle-Calédonie est bizarre par rapport aux normes mondiales. Au lieu d’un seul drapeau, il possède actuellement deux drapeaux co-officiels, qui ne représentent ni l’un ni l’autre toute la Nouvelle-Calédonie. L’un est le drapeau de la France elle-même. L’autre est le drapeau du FLNKS, la coalition politique qui représente le peuple autochtone kanak. Ce compromis a été condamné comme maladroit, source de discorde, controversé et non représentatif. La situation a même été rejetée par des dirigeants importants tels que le président du gouvernement de la Nouvelle-Calédonie, le représentant de la Nouvelle-Calédonie à l’Assemblée nationale et le maire de Nouméa. Les critiques ont évoqué les principes de l’accord de Nouméa (l’accord de 1998 entre le gouvernement français et le FLNKS), qui exprime le souhait d’un «destin commun» pour toutes les communautés. De nombreux Néo-Calédoniens ont réclamé un nouveau drapeau unique exprimant une identité commune pour toute la Nouvelle-Calédonie. Il y a eu des propositions existantes, mais ces modèles sont assez complexes. Par conséquent, voici ma proposition.
Note: My choice of designs do not reflect my political opinions.
Remarque: mon choix de modèles ne reflète pas mes opinions politiques.
My proposal / Ma proposition
Proposed flag of New Caledonia / Drapeau proposé de la Nouvelle-Calédonie
New Zealand has a history of support for redesigning its flag, which came to a head in 2016 with an official contest and referendum. This was a total fiasco – The judges had no relevant qualification or experience, the process was mishandled and the finalist designs were hated, among (many) other problems. In the end, voters opted not to change the flag.
Yet this was not a total victory for the current flag! A significant 43% voted against their own national flag, showing that it no longer has the prestige it used to, and a better flag design with a few percent more support would have won. What design would that be?
I and James Fitzmaurice have made and perfected these designs over the years, based on analysing thousands of designs and comments, consulting surveys and social science research, and more. Our designs are frankly far superior to the other proposals in aesthetics, symbolism and justification. Any one of them would have won the referendum. You don’t need to look any further if you want a design to support for the next time this topic comes up again in the public arena.
Is this all a product of raging narcissism or qualified judgement? For the first time, we have collected all of our designs in one place so you can decide!
Proposed flags of New Zealand by Brian Cham and James Fitzmaurice.
As with all design, the how and the why is more important than the what. This article begins by describing our extensive design process. Firstly, it describes our overall methodology and guiding principle. Secondly, it lists all of the common flag design traps that we tried to avoid. Thirdly, it explores New Zealand’s national symbolism and how to effectively express it in a flag design. Afterwards, this article covers each flag design with commentary, larger graphics and construction sheets.