Friday, October 1, 2010

Flag Friday XV

Flag Friday is a periodic discussion of the world's national flags; the project is explained and indexed here.

These discussions are about graphic design, and perhaps about nationalism and national symbolism in general. They should not be taken as critical of the countries, ideals, cultures, or people that the flags represent.


Parsons: Calling it "original" and "eyewatering" -- in fact, "impressively eyewatering, given only two colors" -- he gives it a "B", 70/100.

Michael5000: The Greek flag is a remarkable flag achievement, combining the simplest of elements to create a banner that is instantly recognizable, unique, and iconic.  It's a flag classic.

Grade: A


Parsons: Again with the "eyewatering," in fact "possibly the most eyewatering flag in existence." He gives it a "C+", 60/100.

Michael5000: Ol' Kalaallit Nunaat isn't a full-fledged "country" -- it is largely autonomous, but still looks to Denmark for diplomatic representation, defense, economic policy, and, well, money.  I'm covering it here only because it was on Dr. Parsons' list, and because it has an awesome flag.

Greenland 's flag is not entirely unlike Greece's: a strong color interacting with white, very simple elements, and an effect that is visually distinct, elegant, and memorable.  Here are the specs is you are moved to sew one up for yourself:

Incidentally, does anyone here see anything "eyewatering" about either the Greek or the Greenlandic flag?  I think Parsons needs to lay off the eyedrops.

Grade (for the current flag): A


Parsons:He feels that it has "too many stars" and is "too busy," and assigns it a "D", 40/100. "What is that thing on the left?" he asks.

Michael5000: Living in those dark days before everybody knew about the Wiki, Parsons had no way of knowing that "the symbol in the hoist represents a clove of nutmeg, one of the principal crops of Grenada. It also represents a link to Grenada's former name, which was the 'Isle of Spice.'" And, who knows, maybe nutmeg cloves are immediately recognizeable and cause patriotic stirrings in all good Grenadans.  It does seem like a rather obscure visual reference though.

Too many stars?  Too busy?  I'd have to agree.  The bright colors might inspire our hypothetical child with crayons, but they'd be well advised to use a coloring-book template.

Photographic evidence suggests that flagmakers play pretty fast and loose with the dimensions of the central star.  And also that the flag, for all that it is rather busy, has a certain sunny exhuberance to it as well.  Which is nothing to sneeze at.

Grade: B-


Parsons: "There are so many things wrong with this flag," notes Dr. Parsons, and lists them: it is "too busy," has "bad colours," includes "weapons," "writing," and "graven images." It is slapped with a "D", 40/100.

Michael5000: As usual, Parsons dislikes a Latin American flag because of it displays a coat of arms.  I'm sympathetic, although as usual I'll note that he could just choose to fly the civil ensign on important Guatemalan holidays.  It has no weapons, writing, graven images, or busy-ness of any kind:

But actually, although I don't in general approve of this level of detail and frim-frammery in a flag, I can make an exception for Guatemala.  Know why?

Because that bird perched on the gun between the laurel branches is a freaking Resplendent Quetzal, that's why!  A Resplendent Quetzal makes up for a variety of sins, that's what I always say.

Grade: B


Parsons: Without comment, he gives it a "B-", 65/100.

Michael5000: As Ghana adopted the colors of the Ethiopian flag out of a spirit of pan-Africanism, Guinea adopted the colors of the Ghanaian flag when it became independent the next year.  The obvious downside is that the flags that followed this pattern are not visually distinct.  Mali, neighboring Guinea to the north and east, has a vertical tricolor of green, yellow, and red.  If the two nations became embroiled in a 18th-Century infantry conflict, rallying around the flag would be tricky business indeed.

Grade (for the current flag): B


mrs.5000 said...

I admire the Greenland flag also--it's new to me--and am amused that it follows what I learned in school at some point, "there's nothing green about Greenland."

Dug said...

I like the Greenland flag so much that I had it on my desktop for a while. I think we should vote Josh Parsons off the island. That'll make his eyes water!

Eric said...

I've noticed that you do tend to be much more charitable than Mr. Parsons in your assessments.