A New Flag For A New L.A.

Want to improve your city’s flag?  Take a look at what Ian Williams and his collaborators have put together to push for “A New Flag For A New L.A.“.

Ian Williams and friend. (From Facebook.)
Ian Williams and friend. (From Facebook.)

First, they managed to get the domain losangelesflag.org (welcome to the [cityname]flag.org family, Los Angeles Flag!), the twitter handle @LosAngelesFlag, and the Facebook page facebook.com/losangelesflag.  (That all these cyber addresses were available is likely a sign of just how little the current flag of Los Angeles figures in the public imagination.)

Welcome page at losangelesflag.org.
Welcome page at losangelesflag.org.

Second, they designed a persuasive website that simply and directly makes the case that the time is right for a new flag, uses Good Flag, Bad Flag principles to critique the current flag, proactively answers common objections, provides a curated set of Los Angelinophilia resources for inspiration, and makes a clear call to action (currently, to sign a petition to the mayor and city council).  And, of course, no effort to change a city flag is complete without pointing to Roman Mars’ extremely popular and influential video of his TED Talk featuring Ted Kaye and the GFBF principles.  (This video is now up to 1,355,016 views.)

The current L.A. flag breaks GFBF rule #1 (Keep It Simple). From losangelesflag.org/current-flag.
Why just removing the seal isn't enough: spurious relationships to African green-yellow-red tricolors. From losangelesflag.org/current-flag.
And it breaks GFBF rule #5 (Be Distinctive or Be Related). Why just removing the seal isn’t enough: the current flag spuriously suggests relationships to African green-yellow-red tricolors. From losangelesflag.org/current-flag.

They are now in their third and most crucial phase: getting the word out.  Here it has proved slow-going: they currently have 34 Twitter followers, 103 Facebook page likes, and 47 signatures on their petition.  Notably absent, as of yet, is press coverage.  In a small media market like Fargo, North Dakota the efforts of a college student to change that flag has been covered in print, online, and radio media.  Competing for attention in a huge and saturated media ecosystem like Los Angeles’ is obviously much more difficult.  Another factor that might be hampering this is the choice of Williams and colleagues to remain anonymous in the materials they publish.  The press, after all, loves to cover stories about people, not just ideas.

But flag change is in the air, and it is probably just a matter of time (and social networking) before the Los Angeles Flag campaign gets some much-needed publicity.  After all, Time Out Los Angeles recently posted a pro-flag-change article on June 30, prior to the launch of losangelesflag.org.  That same month, as we recently reported, the Letter Society invited its designers to redesign city flags, and Erik Wagner created a proposal for L.A.  And a couple years ago a now-discontinued LA Blog, LA I Am Yours, held a flag redesign contest that received a dozen entries. The winning entry was by Muscovite Roma Lyubimov.

Proposal by Erik Wagner, 2015. From The Letter Society.
Proposal by Erik Wagner, 2015. From The Letter Society.
Proosal by Roma Lyubimov, 2013. From behance.com.
Proosal by Roma Lyubimov, 2013. From behance.com.

4 thoughts on “A New Flag For A New L.A.”

  1. Hmmm… I’m having a conflicting opinion.

    GFBF may be an ideal guideline for flag designing, but trying not to break some of them when you know them well enough results in an amateur flag. At this point every flag designer’s gonna be using GFBF, and sooner or later this method of flag making will by itself be considered commonplace. For instance, that flag Roma came up with would be horrible because it vehemently messes with GFBF #3 and #5 – the synonymous color palate of yellow and white looks hideous, and the circular white resembles the format of Japan, Bangladesh, Palau, Greenland…

    As for Los Angeles, I can definitely agree with the complexity of the seal in the center, but the notches..? I think it’s perfectly fine since it isn’t intricate. The dandelion yellow and the notches reflect on the Mexican heritage which is native to Los Angeles, which I find distinctive.

    1. Thanks! I think these are all excellent points. Too often GFBF gets applied too literally, and simply conforming to all the guidelines doesn’t mean a design is good or effective (e.g.,the Roma Lyubimov design). In hindsight, I would have changed the tone of this 4 year old blog post to be more critical — rather than “Ian Williams’ project should be emulated!” it would be better to say “Ian William’s project does a number of things right, but…”. — Scott

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