Flag Redesigns

I’m a little bit of a flag geek. They’re an interesting mix of history and graphic design. A well-designed flag can be a wonderful symbol of pride for a city, country, or state—or a memorable symbol of something nefarious.

Unfortunately, a lot of flags are not well designed—especially state flags. That’s what this page is about. It’s an attempt to redesign a lot of flags of the world: especially US state flags, that are so often just a state seal thrown up on a blue seal. The criteria I am using are as follows:

I hope that these flags show that, in some way.

Do I think that any of these will ever get used? Nah. But it’s a fun exercise, nevertheless.

U.S. State Flags

Every state in the United States is technically a separate nation. We are fifty states who have come together to form a supernational federation. Our flags should represent that. They should be memorable and distinctive, clearly showing the character of each state.


Alabama’s flag really isn’t that bad—but it’s not distinctive at all. It’s way too close to the flags of Northern Ireland and Jersey. And the saltire is another attempt to sneak in Confederate imagery.

My version starts with bold stripes of the state colors of red and white. Alabama is the “Cotton State”, which presents a problem: it is still a big part of the state’s economy, and it’s certainly historical, but it has an undeniable connection with slavery. I approached this by putting the white cottonball shape on a black triangle: white for the cotton, but black to remember the hundreds of thousands of African Americans that Alabama enslaved.


Alaska’s flag is already decent—but the eight stars just don’t stand out very well. It can be quite hard to make out from far away. For my design, I took the idea of the “Land of the Midnight Sun”, with a yellow on a black field. (It takes some inspiration from both the Japanese flag and the Macedonian flag.) The sun’s twelve rays are meant to be evocative of a clock, continuing the midnight theme.


Arkansas’s flag, with its red field and white stars on blue lines, is another blatant attempt to sneak in Confederate symbolism. In fact, the top blue star explicitly represents the Confederacy! Given that the flag dates from the 1920s and Jim Crow, this is not a good way to go.

My redesign keeps the diamond, and the three large stars representing Arkansas’s past as part of Spain, France, and the United States. The twenty-five smaller stars represent Arkansas’s position as the twenty-fifth state. And the new green field calls to Arkansas’s nickname of the “Natural State”.


Colorado has a flag that lots of people have rated highly. I’ve never liked it though—that “C” really stands out to me. It looks too much like a sports logo. For my redesign, I wanted to incorporate both Colorado’s mountains, and its name, meaning “colored” or “colorful”. I added more colors than usually go in a flag, for the colorful motif, forming some kite shapes (representing the mountains) into a sort of compass rose. The red is for Colorado’s earth, the yellow for its minerals, the green for the plains in the east, and the blue for its waters. I ended by darkening the background, to help the colors really stand out.


Florida: state seal on red saltire. Easily confused with Alabama, but made worse by the seal. The saltire possibly harkens back to Spanish days, and possibly it’s another attempt to sneak in that old Confederate Battle Flag.

My redesign makes it obvious that the cross is the Spanish one, the Cross of Burgundy. I’ve done it in blue and orange: blue for the Florida waters (longest coastline among US states!), and orange for Florida’s agriculture. Florida’s very name means “flowery”, so I’ve completed the design with orange blossoms, Florida’s state flower and another agricultural symbol. Hence, a design that combines the new and old that live side-by-side in Florida.


Hawai’i’s flag is certainly interesting, and almost passes muster. It’s old too—it dates from 1845. Still, I don’t think it represents the modern state very well. And just what is the UK flag doing in there!?

Instead, I went with a water theme. The eight wavy stripes, from left to right, are the official colors of the major islands of the state in order from west to east (Ni’ihau, Kaua’i, O’ahu, Moloka’i, Lāna’i, Kaho’olawe, Maui, and the big island Hawai’i). The design in the center is a kahili (a symbol of Hawai’ian royalty) crossed with a pair of paddles. It is taken from Hawai’i’s native flag, and represents its people and Hawai’ian sovereignty.


Another state seal on blue. Idaho is a mountainous state near the continental divide. It is known as the “Gem State”, and is one of the only places on earth where one can find star garnets—the state gemstone. Hence this version of the flag, with the brown triangles representing the mountains and the starred red gemstone in the center.


Well, at least this one isn’t that state seal on blue? It’s still overly complicated and not very recognizable, and the lettering has to go.

My revamp runs with the “Crossroads of America” motto. Four diagonal lines (in a skewed diagonal hash sign) run around the center. This would be a distinctive flag, far more recognizable at a distance than what the current one is.


And still another state seal on blue (but with helpful lettering). Kansas is the “Sunflower State”, so why not take the sunflower from the current flag and use it as part of a wider theme? My design takes brown and orange to represent the state’s soil and agriculture, and adds in three stylized sunflowers to represent its people, always looking toward brightness.


Louisiana is unique among U.S. states in that it has a much more of a French connection. My design highlights this, with a basic fleur-de-lis pattern. The green and light blue background symbolizes the state’s position on the southern coast, with its important wetlands. I think it’s much more bold than the current version, with its pelican and barely readable state motto. Laissez les bon temps rouler! (Thanks to my brother Steve for his input.)


I have to confess that I find the Maryland flag ugly as sin. It clashes and it’s way too busy for me. However, by my criteria for flags, it does a great job. It’s certainly recognizable at a distance, and it’s based on some solid history—in this case the arms of Lord Baltimore. I’m not happy with the red and white pieces of this flag being used by Maryland secessionists during the Civil War...but at least it’s not the Confederate Battle Flag. This flag will stay as is.


At least the Massachusetts’ flag isn’t the state seal on a blue field: it’s the state seal on a white field. My variant takes as inspiration historical New England pine tree flags (based on the English Red Ensign) that were flown during the Revolutionary War. The pine tree has long been a symbol of New England, and is still on Massachusetts’ naval flag. Finally, I have reworked the colors to be the state colors of blue, green, and cranberry, making this flag very distinctive at a distance.


State seal. Blue field. Again. Minnesota’s flag is complicated, unrecognizable, and just plain awful.

My variant uses the purple that’s become Minnesota’s unofficial state color (possibly due to the Vikings and/or Prince). The Nordic cross recognizes the state’s Scandinavian roots. The yellow star alludes to Minnesota’s nickname of “The Star of the North”, that you can see in French on the current flag. It’s also meant to evoke a compass rose. Here is a distinctive state flag that would be easily recongizable.


Well, they finally got rid of the horrible slavers’s flag. Good riddance. But I still don’t like the new one. I admit that it’s better than most state flags, from a vexillogical perspective. But that writing: not only should a flag not have phrases, but this one in particular rankles. The State of Mississippi is telling all of us non-supernaturalists that we’re not welcome in their state. Bad choice.

Interestingly, my redesign (which predates theirs) is similar in some ways, with a magnolia on a broad blue vertical stripe. I like my brighter colors and simpler design, though. And I do think that mine is more welcoming.


Missouri’s flags is one of those frustrating flags that, although it’s overcomplicated and awful, actually contains a good flag within it. Look closely at the coat of arms. Do you see the bear and crescent? It’s there taunting you, if you just squint your eyes enough!

So I took that and ran with it. As with the previous symbols, the bear represents strength and bravery, while the crescent moon is for newness and potential for growth. The red is for valor, the blue for justice, and the white for purity.


Montana has another boring state-seal-on-blue-field motif, but with helpful text to help you remember what state you’re in. My redesign takes elements from the state nicknames “Big Sky Country” and the “Treasure State”, and also makes reference to the motto “Oro y Plata”, Spanish for “Gold and Silver”. The flag is mostly blue for the sky, with the purple mountains that give Montana its name. The lines demarcating the mountains are in gray and yellow, alluding to the silver and gold while making a hidden “M” for Montana. (I can’t take credit for this idea, though—this image does borrow from other people’s ideas for the flag.)


The Nebraska state capitol was the site of a truly embarrassing screw up: it flew upside down for ten days in 2017, and no one noticed. This is poor flag design in action.

My design is simple, and takes the “Cornhusker State” nickname to its logical conclusion. The green represents the state’s agriculture, and the corn represents, well, corn. It’s a clean and uncomplicated design that reflects the state well.

New Hampshire

Not a surprise, we have here another state seal on a blue field. It has to go. My variant starts with the flag of Hampshire, which has red over yellow, with a crown on the red half and a red rose of Lancaster on the bottom half. I dropped the royal symbolism and flipped the colors, to show New Hampshire’s egalitarian, rebellious spirit. To this I added a bundle of five white arrows, from New Hampshire’s original state seal. They represent the state’s original five counties, but they also nicely represent the state’s “Live Free or Die” motto.

New Jersey

New Jersey was founded by George Carteret (whose arms were white fusils on red) and John Berkeley (whose arms were white crosses pattée on red with a white chevron). The saltire is from the flag of the isle of Jersey, the flag of which is a red saltire on white. By reversing the colors and adding the fusils and crosses pattée, we have a perfectly good flag for New Jersey that recognizes its founding.

New Mexico

New Mexico has a frankly gorgeous flag—I think it’s the best in the Union. It does not need to be changed. It’s vivid, and it can be recognized at a distance. Its simple design has historical meaning: the colors are borrowed from the Spanish flag, and the native design alludes to New Mexico’s strong native community. I’m keeping this flag the way it is.

New York

New York: state coat of arms on a blue field. New York has such a rich history that it deserves more. In my design the white rose represents Yorkshire and the House of York. It’s drawn directly from Yorkshire flags. The red cross is for the state’s English origins. And the orange brings in the Dutch influence, when it was New Amersterdam. This is a flag that I think New Yorkers could be proud of.

North Carolina

North Carolina has an interesting flag, designed by a Confederate veteran after the war, to replace the flag flown during the Civil War. It’s debatable whether or not it really has any secret Confederate symbolism. Even so, it has too many words on it to be a decent flag.

Actually, my design shown here was a bit of a gimme. It comes from the coat of arms of the North Carolina Senate, but it makes such an excellent flag that I had to do it here. The St. George’s Cross is of course for England, and the Carolina colony’s English origins. But the eight shields represent the eight Lords Proprietor, who together funded the colony. It shows the state’s history, without any sneaky use of Confederate imagery at all. I like it.


Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn in the middle of the old colonies. It became known as the “Keystone State” due to its central location and importance. My design uses the unofficial state colors of blue and gold. It incorporates William Penn’s coat of arms—three white plates on a black fess—into an archway. The center of the arch is, of course, the keystone in state colors.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s flag is better than most. However it still has writing, and the yellow-on-white scheme makes it very hard to identify from a distance. My solution combines one of the historical flags with the current flag: the blue field makes the anchor much clearer, the banner is removed, and the yellow border has been strengthened. All-in-all, this makes for a much more distinctive flag.

South Carolina

From the above criteria, South Carolina actually has a decent flag that I’m not going to touch. The crescent and palmetto aren’t too complicated, and they can be recognized from afar. And they represent the state and its history. I’ll take it.

(I do have another reason for maintaining South Carolina’s flag. It looks to all the world like a palm tree and a crescent moon. This makes South Carolina’s flag look so much like the flag of an Islamic country, that would be perfectly at home on the Arabian peninsula. There’s so much irony here, that I find it hysterical.)


Tennessee has one of the better flags, with its unique three-star design (representing the major regions of the state) using bold colors. My main objection to it is the attempt to sneak in Confederate colors: the red field, the white stars on blue, and the white fimbriation.

Thus, I’ve replaced these with the state colors of orange and white, and made the overall symbols a little larger and bolder. I believe that it keeps the good elements of Tennessee’s flag while discarding a divisive past, making a flag that would truly stand out.


Texas has another good flag, that is perfectly fine the way it is. It’s bold and recognizable, and showcases Texas’s history. (Admittedly, Texans can be a little obnoxious about it...but that’s another issue altogether.) Their flag stays.


Utah’s real flag is another of those state-seal-on-blue-field jobs. Ick. It’s totally unoriginal, and can’t be recognized from afar. My rework combines the state colors of yellow and black with the bee motif used by the Mormon settlers, representing industry, hard work, and community. The beehive is taken from the current flag, but enlarged and stylized. The result is distinctive and could be easily recognized from afar.


Vermont’s another state-seal-on-blue-field job. My variant is very similar to the traditional “Green Mountain Boys Flag” of the short-lived Republic of Vermont. (Vermont literally means “green mountain”, and its official nickname is the “Green Mountain State”.) To this flag I’ve added a fourteenth star to the deliberately irregular constellation, representing Vermont’s position as the fourteenth state.


Oh look—it’s a state seal on a blue field. Virginia’s flag at least has some history behind it. The makers of the seal wanted the commonwealth to have a seal that harkened back to the Roman Republic. The state motto “Sic Semper Tyrannis” (“Thus Always to Tyrants”) reflects this.

My version keeps this slightly macabre theme. The red field is for the people of Virginia (or possibly the blood of tyrants). The diagonal white stripes (making a V) are for peace. And the dagger through the crown keeps the old theme of Virginia’s opposition to tyrants and monarchs. Et tu, Brute?


Washington’s real flag has been sarcastically referred to as a ”giant dollar bill that someone ran up a flag pole”. My redesign is far less complicated. It’s actually based on the coat of arms of the Washington family (as is the flag of Washington D.C.), honoring one of our Founding Fathers and a man who voluntarily chose to step down from power. However, I’ve replaced the red with the same green from the real flag to give it a Pacific Northwest flare. It is, after all, the “Evergreen State”.


I’m not the first to point out that Wyoming already has a pretty good flag, except for the overly-complex seal. All I did here was to remove the seal and standardize the size a little bit. Presto: perfectly good flag, representing Wyoming’s history as a plains state.

U.S. Cities

Cities usually have better flags than states, but a couple of them still need some work...

Ashland, Oregon

Ashland is a lovely little community in southern Oregon (where I lived briefly), best known for its annual Shakespeare festival. To the best of my knowledge, it has no current flag! In my suggestion, the green and brown stripes are for the natural environment: green for forest, and brown for mountains. And of course the dramatic masks are for the festival that makes this small town known up and down the Pacific coast.

San José, California

San José (Yes, I like putting the accent over the e.) is the city where I grew up. Its flag is a typical monstrosity using the seal—and is therefore almost never used. My replacement keeps the orange and blue stripes for continuity. However I replaced the seal with a sun symbol, that is based on the logo used by the city for its official publications. Hence, a simple but vibrant flag that could easily be used.

Seattle, Washington

I’m really not sure what Seattle’s flag is supposed to be. It honors the eponymous Chief Seattle. But it’s overly complicated, the lettering has to go, and Seattle is better known as the “Emerald City”, not the “City of Goodwill”.

My redesign starts with an emerald field, and was influenced to some degree by Japanese city and prefecture flags, showcasing Seattle’s location on the Pacific Rim. The blue stripes on either side represent Puget Sound and Lake Washington, which border Seattle to the west and east. And the six-pointed star recalls an emerald, which has a natural hexagonal lattice. I’ve also made its points needle-sharp, referencing another famous landmark, the Space Needle.

Tacoma, Washington

Tacoma’s where I live now, and the current flag is another seal on a blue field. My variant keeps the blue field but adds a lighter wave motif, for the waters of the Puget Sound and the port that is Tacoma’s lifeline. The chevron on top represents our namesake, Mt. Ranier, or “Tahoma” in the native Lushootseed languages. I believe that this keeps the original ideas, but turns them into a much bolder, more modern flag.

Other U.S. Tribes, Territories, etc.

Navajo Nation

My family has a history living on the Navajo Reservation. While I am not Navajo myself, I have extended family that is. My redesign of their flag is essentially a simplification of the current flag, to better follow vexililogical principles. It keeps the sandy background reminiscent of Navajo sand paintings, with the rainbow symbolizing Navajo sovereignty. The four sacred mountains surrounding the land, in their traditional colors, are Blanca Peak (Tsisnaasjiní, white), Mt. Taylor (Tsoodził, blue), San Francisco Peak (Dook’o’oosłííd, yellow), and Hesperus Mountain (Dibé Ntsaa, black). However I rearranged the mountains to put east on top, as is traditional in Navajo custom. The arrowhead in the middle is meant to symbolize the Navajo people, pointed downward to represent peace.

Non-U.S. Entities

Since I’m an American, I have very little hope of any of these designs seeing the light of day. Even so, they can be fun exercises.


I really don’t like flags that incorporate a country’s outline. They’re not horribly recognizable, and they seem a convenient way of ignoring a country’s past. My design for Cyprus combines the Greek blue representing the West, and the Turkish red representing the East. The white between them represents peace between the peoples. The eight-pointed star pattern in the center represents the sovereignty of an independent Cypriot state. The octogon derives from the symbol of Nicosia, the capital, and ultimately comes from the shape of its walls. The copper color represents the copper mined here, from whence Cyprus derives its name.