I redesigned the flag of Massachusetts in 2022 with consultation from NAVA (North American Vexillological Association) members as part of their ongoing Flag Design Gauntlet meetings. Thanks to the members from Massachusetts for their valuable input, Joe Gorman for organising the meetings, and everyone else who participated in discussions.
The current design
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 scrutiny because the symbolism had links to colonial violence against indigenous Americans. In July 2020, the state senate voted unanimously to look into redesigning the state seal and flag. There is ongoing pressure with many towns endorsing a redesign of the flag. Therefore, here is my proposal.
I have two proposals: – The shield concept is based on the current flag for local familiarity and recognition. It was most preferred by the NAVA members from Massachusetts. – The Sons of Liberty concept is based on the flag of the Sons of Liberty, the group who instigated the Boston Tea Party. It was ranked number 1 in a public poll of all Massachusetts flag redesigns.
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.
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. Australia has not had an official flag competition or referendum yet but I’ll be ready once it happens!
Everyone else just makes designs that look nice and symbolic to them personally. This is why they fail. Instead, I consulted real evidence for what people want and don’t want in a flag, and aimed for maximum feasibility, i.e. appealing to as much of the public as possible with their various preferences. The concepts are roughly in order from most to least feasible, based on my evidence and the popularity on Facebook and Reddit.
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.
Also, the future possibility of Irish unification is becoming more and more plausible. If this possibility escalates into a real scenario, the island will require an acceptable symbol that is neutral and not associated with only one side. Polls show that creating a new flag in the event of Irish reunification is the most popular option among both the public and politicians.
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.
Here are the flags that I and James Fitzmaurice have designed over the years for New Zealand. We based these on extensive research, analysis of thousands of designs and comments, consulting surveys and social science research, and more. We believe our designs surpass those of the notorious 2016 referendum which was widely regarded as a fiasco – The judges had no relevant qualification or experience, the process was mishandled and the finalist designs were hated, among many other problems. Is this 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!
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.
Larry from Michigan reached out with a nice surprise. He sent me a photo revealing that he actually manufactured the proposed flag design which now flies outside his house! He said, “the redesign is better and the flag will stay in my family for generations. Thanks so much for the design.”
The current design
Current flag of Michigan
The current flag of Michigan is a typical American-style seal-on-blue-bedsheet design; as a result it is convoluted, unmemorable and uninspiring. It scored 3.46/10 in NAVA’s survey, making it the fourteenth worst flag in North America. In 2018, a state senator introduced a bill to replace it with a new design. Although nothing came of that, below is what I would have proposed:
The current flag of Fiji is almost unchanged from its colonial predecessor, a defaced British Blue Ensign. Since becoming a republic, the prime minister Frank Bainimarama called for a new flag design to reflect a new, genuine, confident Fijian identity without inheriting old colonial symbols. The Fijian government called for submissions throughout 2015 and 2016 but this plan fell through. This was the proposal designed by myself, James Fitzmaurice and Rachael Radhika-Hart.
Proposed flag of Fiji by Brian Cham, James Fitzmaurice and Rachael Radhika-Hart.