September 4 is Los Angeles’ birthday. This year—tomorrow—our city will be turning 232: happy birthday! You can now drink, rent a car, enter a senior citizens community, pass away, come back, and start all over again more than once, Los Angeles. You are one mature lady. To celebrate the occasion, we wanted to take the time to do something we’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting to do for some time: celebrate Los Angeles by way of design beautification. There is a lot in Los Angeles that is pretty but so much that is not. We’re going to start holding a bi-monthly or quarterly series of contests exactly the same as The Fox Is Black’s Re-Covered Books Contest but focused on Los Angeles as a design assignment.
What is the first visual problem we’d like to investigate? The Los Angeles Flag, a totally ridiculous looking series of squiggles that is stamped with the city’s seal. You may not have known that Los Angeles had a city flag—but did you imagine that this would be it? No. This is not what you thought at all. It’s kind of a hot mess and we need to offer up suggestions for changing this flag for the better.
First, the flag as it is. Let’s look at it.
The elements at play here…
• There are color areas that represent three parts of Los Angeles: green for olive trees (???), gold for orange groves (I get that.), and red for vineyards (Where???). They are separated by a jagged zig zag, as if a monster took a bite out of it.
• The center of the flag has the city’s seal, a mark that includes a USA shield, a representation of the California flag, references to both Spain and Mexican flags, and representations of the aforementioned money winning crops.
It’s a pretty basic flag. It was designed in 1931 by Roy E. Silent and E.S. Jones for the city’s sesquicentennial. According to Wikipedia, which is where we learned all about this flag, it had brief fame in the eighties when it was shown to be the host of the Olympics. How fitting that it got attention in the eighties!
Here’s what I see when I see this flag:
It looks like the flag of Senegal and the flag of Qatar melted together so brutally that the Senegalese star picked up all sorts of debris which eventually became the city’s seal. The flag looks ridiculous! It’s like our city is represented by really, really bad clip art. How disappointing.
Thus, here is our challenge: rethink the LA Flag. Come up with a cool, alternative symbol to represent the city. Think about what the city now holds important and what the city is in reference to California, the United States, and the world. Think about our natural beauty and man-made beauty and what Los Angeles now is at 232 years of age. Try to dig a little into history and be as simple as possible. Try to make it modern and timeless and like a flag. It doesn’t have to be a rectangle, no, but it shouldn’t feature photos and look like this. Think classic, think simple, think Los Angeles.
If you’re getting stuck or want examples, here are a few that we admire for their simplicity and timelessness. The California flag is amazing and—in our opinion—the best state flag in the USA. The bear is a bold move (and very hard to recreate without looking cheesy) but it all says so much about California without saying much of anything. A few other flags we found inspiration from is the flag of Maryland (timeless, bold, patterned), the flag of Korea (clever variation on a visual theme), the flag of Brazil (great use of color—and what a brilliant mark), and the flag of Japan (simple, simple, simple). Use these as inspiration. Think about the life this flag will take beyond being a flag. Could you see it being used in citywide advertising? Could you see t-shirts using your mark to help promote the city? Is this flag the point of departure for a visual culture that represents Los Angeles? The winner will be able to incorporate those ideas.
Want to know what you’ll win? You’ll get $50 in Amazon cash and a surprise or two from the LAIY vault. Should be a pretty sweet little reward from LA to you. Here are the specifics for entering…
• Save your images as JPGs at 800px wide, 72 DPI, RGB mode. There are no height restrictions (Don’t go crazy, though.) and you can enter up to three times. Please send one flat flag at the minimum. You could compliment it by placing it “in the wild” or even as a moving .gif, too.
• Label your files “Firstname-Lastname-LA-Flag.jpg”.
• Send all entries to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Project Rebrand Los Angeles: The LA Flag.” Cut and paste that, please.
• Send along a brief blurb to explain the significance of your flag. This isn’t required but we’d like some insight into your design.
• You do not have to live in Los Angeles—or even California—to enter. Just have a love for the city and knowledge in it enough to be able to defend your design’s relevance to the city.
• Don’t sent in a green, gold, and red striped flag. We basically did that at the top.
• All entries are due by Midnight PST the night of Monday, September 30.
That is it! We’re looking forward to sharing what you guys design and are pumped to start giving LA small makeovers. She deserves it. Feel free to email, Tweet, Facebook, comment, etc. any questions or concerns you may have. Good luck, everyone!
If we measure this flag in pixels, it features an orange top-bar 180 pixels by 800 pixels, and at the bottom a blue bar 180 pixels by 800 pixels. There is a red star in the center above a gear. Now the top orange bar represents the beautiful sunsets of this city, and by extension the surrounding natural beauty. The blue bar at bottom represents the famous ocean and beaches of Los Angeles, and once again it’s natural beauty. The gear in the center represents how Los Angeles is a creative capital for the twenty-first century industry. The city is the largest manufacturing center in the West, and one of the world’s busiest ports. The red star, also seen on the California state flag, represents the ” Lone Star Rebellion ” of 1836. It also shows that the city of L.A. is a truly proud and independent city.
The first flag is rather obvious — a slugline from a script. The second is more photogenic: palm trees in the olive, gold, red scheme in front of the hollywood hills. The third is the flag as envisioned by the Fresh Prince. Or Miley Cyrus. Whatever.
My design for the flag of Los Angeles draws its inspiration from two places. The first is the Spanish history of the state. The colors (red and white) are both colors associated with the Spanish “cross of Burgundy” flag. The red represents red wine which Los Angeles (as well as all of California) is famous for. The white represents divinity which ties into the name “Angeles” or “Angels”.
The overlap at the center between the red and white represents the culture of Los Angeles which is a diverse and overlapping mixture of cultures. At the center left is a Red Star (California Symbol) with a gold ring surrounding it. This represents the value that Los Angeles brings to the state as a whole.
This flag represents the nature in and around Los Angeles. First the yellow signifies the surrounding deserts. Green the vegetation and surrounding mountains. Blue the Sky.
Los Angeles a strip of artificial green between the mountains and the sea. Where light and air pollution (though far less of the latter) can’t seem to completely block out the stars both earthly and celestial. This city of transplants has been a destination of pioneers and site seers since 1781.
These two designs use the natural beauty of Los Angeles as it’s basis.
The first flag is a riff on the state flag of California, where the bar at the bottom represents the Pacific Ocean, the bear here takes the form of the many mountains that surround Los Angeles, and the lone star is replaced with the ever present sun.
The second flag is a tricolor with a twist; where again the blue represents the Pacific Ocean, the tan represents the mountains, and sky fills the top bar.
Both designs utilize muted colors that are emblematic of the Mediterranean climate of Los Angeles.
The “Sunny Angels” flags recalls L.A.’s amazing and diverse history while being contemporary. The flag is made of two components: the three gold circles, aureola standing for the City of Angels, the central ring depict the Chumash symbol for the Sun, the Chumash people were one of the first inhabittants of the L.A bassin; and the California-red ribbon is inspired by art-deco décors and Tongva patterns. The ribbon stands for the L.A freeways, mountains. The elements of the flag make a catchy and iconic flag with multiple layers of interpretations. They can be easily used in collaterals to embody the L.A spirit on various materials.
In this concept, I would like to realize the image of the eternal sun, which we pursued everywhere in LA, something comprehensive and unifying. I wanted to create a holistic, emotional and very neat concept. This flag isn’t trendy, it’s iconic. I wanted to create an image that would be fifty years from now looked fine.
Design Number 1 honors the State of California with the star in the upper left hand corner of the flag, while a Mountain representing San Gabriel points skyward towards the star.
Design Number 2 is similar to number 1 as it represents California and the San Gabriel Mountain range, although more mountains outline this design.
Design Number 3 continues to represent the State of California as well as the San Gabriel, but this mountain design facing upwards as represent and promote Economic success in the future.
Can Los Angeles be just one thing? The challenge of creating a symbol of and for our city is a huge one because there are so many experiences present. So I wanted to play with a shape that had different meanings depending on who’s observing it. The Moorish eight-pointed star is featured prominently in architecture throughout Los Angeles, which is what drew me to it initially, but it carries enormous religious and cultural significance around the world. The circle symbolizes the identity of a unified city, something for our vast and sprawling metropolis to aspire towards. This is a timeless symbol that can easily be appropriated and adapted. The overall shape suggests a compass, reminding us that we are a city in progress, travelling toward a brighter and better future.
Noel Luis Castellanos
There are 58 counties in California, the dots represent the sea,sky, sand, mountains, sun rises, sunsets that are representative of California.