Fixing The Flag Friday #2: Nevada

Man, I really took a break from this column. 

Anyways, this week's flag redesign is Nevada. I have admittedly only been to Nevada a handful of times, despite only living in states bordering it (California and Oregon). I visited Reno in high school to check out the University of Nevada Reno, the second-largest college in the state if you disregard the University of Southern Nevada which is technically a four-year school but only in a few select majors. Reno seemed like a fun city, and my quick Vegas layover sprint to the Pawn Stars pawn shop was an adventure. 

Obviously, Nevada has much more to offer than a few schools and some cheesy pawn shops, and that's what I wanted to learn more about. I quickly discovered that Nevada is a state that is very proud of its history.

Nevada was a largely unsettled plot of land for many years, due to the whole middle of nowhere desert thing. That all changed when a silver deposit was found in Mount Richardson in 1859. Known as the Comstock Lode, the silver discovery led to a series of boomtowns and other development in the recently acquired territory.

Nevada then became a state in 1864, the 36th in the United States. This rush to legally make Nevada a state has a lot to do with the fact that the Union wanted to make sure and claim it as an ally, largely thanks to it's mined wealth and likely support for President Lincoln's re-election campaign. This war-time inception led to the state's official nickname, "Battle Born". Nevada may have only sent 1200 soldiers to battle, but they also sent $400 million in silver to finance the war efforts of the North. 

Current-day Nevada is a little less wild west territory and a little more suburban family developments, but don't underestimate the power of Vegas. Nevada's top moneymaking industry is still tourism and mined silver & gold is still a major source of economic power. The mountains are more for recreational activities than impeding westward pioneers and are home to many well-known resorts. 

The flag itself currently looks like this:

It is rather unique, being the only state flag with the focal point of the design being in the corner, or canton, of the flag. On it, you can see the state plant, sagebrush. The state motto is inscribed on the banner. This flag is not a very detailed one, and certainly not one with too many hidden details. 

Going into this flag redesign, I wanted to pay homage to both the mountains and its treasure within. I also wanted to incorporate their chosen cobalt blue, rather than the oft-debated glory (navy) blue that the Union soldiers wore on their uniforms. I also wanted to include a subtle nod to the winter sports industry, which you can see in the not-so-black diamond marker shapes. These diamonds also are representative of the famous Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign that is known internationally as the sign that you are in Nevada. 

At first, I started out with the simple mountain shape and included gold and silver. This looked rather blank and needed more detail, but I liked where it was heading. 

I then went on to add in the diamonds and fine tune the gold and silver to something more fitting. I'm happy with the final version and would love feedback in the comments below! Thanks for reading!

Sources:

Works Cited

"The Comstock Lode - Creating Nevada History." Legends of America. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Dec. 2016.

"The History of the Nevada State Flag." Nevada Appeal. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Dec. 2016.

Kaye, Ted. "Good Flag, Bad Flag." (n.d.): n. pag. Ausflag.com.au. Web. 31 Dec. 2016.

"Nevada Facts and State Emblems." Nevada Facts and State Emblems. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Dec. 2016.

NSTATE, LLC Www.n-state.com. "The Nevada State Flag." Nevada State Flag - About the Nevada Flag, Its Adoption and History. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Dec. 2016.

Fixing The Flag Friday #1: Idaho

I have long enjoyed flags, the study of them, and the ideas of what they represent. The official word for the study of flags is vexillology [vek-suh-lol-uh-jee], which sounds much like a disease that you really don't want. That bad joke is brought to you by coffee.

Anyways, in these segments, I want to curate my thoughts on current flags and try my hand at incorporating research on the local area and designing something with said research. These flags and designs are by no means professional, good, or representative of my thoughts or opinions on said region. 

With all that boring stuff out of the way, let's get started! 

This week I will be detailing the Idaho state flag. The fine folks of reddit.com/r/vexillology have resdeisgned Idaho plenty of times, but my flag will be a unique version.

Idaho's flag currently looks like this:

It was adapted in 1907 by the state government, and apparently was supposed to have a gold fringe around the border, but that version was sparsely used. But of course, like many governments before them, that version just ended up disappearing into the archives of history and flag past. 

Back to the flag itself. There's nothing inherently wrong about this design, it's just that it's so generic. Dozens of U.S. states use this simple design of the state seal on a blue background, and that's a shame. When you look at a state like California, Maryland or New Mexico; there is a distinct look that they own, and no one else comes close to.  Those states truly own their flags. Whether it's selling souvenirs or representing their sports teams, the flags of these states get fully utilized.  

Idaho's state flag features their seal up front and center. The seal features rivers, mountains, cornucopias, elk, flowers and the Latin motto "Esto perpetua" (It is forever). Needless to say, there's a lot going on. I love how detailed seals are, as they represent the things the founders of the states decided they wanted their state to be known for. However, seals are terrible for flags, mainly because the details are way too hard to see from far away. Also, a large canvas such as a flag lends itself to so much more creativity than merely slappin' the seal in the center and calling it a job well done. 

So, for my flag, I want to make sure it will be a large, bold design visible from a distance. After doing some other browsing of the state of Idaho wiki, .gov page, and other assorted resources, I have found some interesting information about the state, and decided I want to include several of these facts as elements on my flag. 

-Idaho, known as the gem state, is the only place in the world other than India that is known to have large quantities of 'star garnet' a small black gem that when polished appears a beautiful cosmic purple of sorts. 

-Many legends exist about the name Idaho, and whether it was really based on Native American words for 'sun coming down the mountain' or other similar phrases remain an unsolved mystery. It makes enough sense for a mountainous state for me, so I'll run with that.

-Idaho's state constitution mandates a balanced budget, so the state has rarely had any large amount of debt.

-Idaho's highways (primarily I-95 and I-84) are in desperate need of repair.

-The Boise Airport is a beautifully designed structure. 

-The state flower, scientifically known as Philadelphus lewisii after Meriweather Lewis the explorer, is lovely and understated, much like the scenery of Idaho. 

-No potato references. 

With all of that being said, and many more trivial facts being left unsaid, let's get down to it.

At first I was at a loss for inspiration. I had so many ideas but was unable to boil things down into usable structure. This was my first solidified idea:

After toying with several simple concepts and learning more about how to use InkScape, I had a much more concrete idea of where I wanted to go. 

After showing her my concept, the lovely Kenzie Sachs commented it could use some more color to make it really pop.

That's when I decided to add a dark blue, that represents the many rivers, falls, and lakes found in Idaho, as well as the denim of the booming agriculture business in the state.

I also tried to position this stripe across roughly 43% of the flag rather than an even 50-50 split of the two colors across the horizontal plane as tradition would dictate. I think I was a little off there, but wanted to honor the fact that they were the 43rd state in a slightly less obvious manner than plastering 39 potatoes or something on there.

My final concept came out to this: 

I chose a light off-white color as my base, in order to represent the syringa (philadelphus lewisii) plant and it's subtle hint of soft color. 

From there, I knew I wanted to incorporate that gorgeous wine color found in the star garnet, so I used the eyedropper to once again get a color as close to nature as possible. I decided I wanted to fully represent the star garnet gem, and added a six-pointed star to the upper right of the flag, to literally symbolize the gem. This also symbolizes the position of Idaho in North America, the North West. 

Finally, we have the triangular mountains. It would be quite the challenge to represent Idaho without some hint of mountains, which make up quite a large portion of the state. There's no ridiculous metaphor for them, they just deserved to be the main focus of my flag. 

As a whole, I'm actually pretty proud of my design, and will once again add the disclaimer I am by no means a designer and don't intend for this to be any means of a showcase. I had an absolute blast doing research on the great state of Idaho, and really enjoyed playing around with a new program. I think a trip to Shoshone Falls on the Snake River may be in my future. Have a great weekend, I hope to see you back here very soon.