For every official flag, there are unofficial adaptations. Some of these are just short-cuts, as when flag manufacturers and chart makers pretend that every national flag is the same shape (usually 3×5). There are also annotations, when a flag is used as the background for a written message. The US flag with its many horizontal lines is well suited for these, with examples going back into the 19th century.
But most interesting are creative adaptations, when people adapt existing flag imagery to show something new.
A recent Washington Post article profiled Matthew Pavesich and his dc/adapters project which has documented hundreds of adaptations of the beautifully simple flag of Washington, DC. He has gone so far as to map where each example was found, which suggest that neighborhoods in transition are hotbeds of this activity. (Shoutout to @ElmersFAB for bringing this article to our attention.)
Curiously, Prof. Pavesich does not consider the well-loved flag of his home city, Chicago, to invite much creative adaptation. Perhaps in relative terms, but it’s not hard to find examples of playing around with the Chicago flag.
Another flag with an astonishing number of playful adaptations is California’s, in part due to its bold use of the text CALIFORNIA REPUBLIC underlining the bear and star emblem. Bill Trinkle is collecting many examples as part of his online California Bear Flag Museum.
Compared to these flags, Portland’s has not seen as much creative adaptation. But there have been a couple striking examples.
What examples of creative flag adaptions have you found? Email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll publish them in this blog.