Flag Adapters

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.

National colors of the 2nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry.  From http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Cincinnati_Rover_Guards
National colors of the 2nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. From Cincinnati Rover Guards webpage.

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.)

DC baseball t-shirt.  From dcadapters.org.
DC baseball t-shirt. From dcadapters.org.
District Heemz sticker. From dcadapters.org.
District Heemz sticker. From dcadapters.org.

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.

Logo of the Goose Island brewpub in Chicago.
Logo of the Goose Island brewpub in Chicago.
Colorado/Chicago flag.  By @hannah14620 (from Instagram).
Cubs logo + Chicago flag. By @hannah14620 (from Instagram).

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.

Wall Street Journal illustration for 3/13/12 Opinion piece on California’s state finances and tax policy.
Wall Street Journal illustration for 3/13/12 Opinion piece on California’s state finances and tax policy.
California Republic of Awesome.  Posted by  Lorri Aiello to Friends of the California Bear Flag Facebook group.
California Republic of Awesome. Posted by
Lorri Aiello to Friends of the California Bear Flag Facebook group.
The republic with its head up it's rear.
The republic with its head up it’s rear.

Compared to these flags, Portland’s has not seen as much creative adaptation.  But there have been a couple striking examples.

An Occupy Portland logo based on the Portland flag.
An Occupy Portland logo based on the Portland flag.
Fans of the Portland Thorns women's soccer team have created a version of the Portland flag, using the team colors of red, green, and black.  They told photographer David Ferriday that the artwork is on file at Elmer's Flag & Banner.
Fans of the Portland Thorns women’s soccer team have created a version of the Portland flag, using the team colors of red, green, and black. They told photographer David Ferriday that the artwork is on file at Elmer’s Flag & Banner.

What examples of creative flag adaptions have you found?  Email them to us at adaptations@portlandflag.org and we’ll publish them in this blog.

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Author: SDM

Ethnography * Technology * Design

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