SE41 Week 8 – Blind Kiwis Design Flags

We’ve had some fun with flags in the past, and as a result of writing that article I have developed a keen sensitivity to vexillological developments around the world. So it was with great interest that I learned that New Zealand has decided that they’ve had enough of being confused with Australia, and are therefore exploring a two pronged strategy: adopting a new flag, and exploring options to tow the country some 500Km east. Let’s look at the flags.

To choose a new flag the Kiwis allowed any native crackpot to submit an idea, and thus received over 10,000 submissions. Sadly they did not release the top 40 worst submissions, but they did release a top 40 “best” flag ideas. Next up they will winnow this down to a top 4, and then pick the best one of those, and THEN they will have a final vote between the new design and the old flag. Looking at this pile of miscreants and derivatives the old flag has nothing to worry about.

If the NZ government is to be believed, their flag committee culled these from ten thousand ideas. If that’s the case then how the hell are at least half of them almost exactly the same: a swirly thing on one or two colours. I don’t know if using the Swirly Flag template on vexillogofun.com and just changing the colours really counts as novel designs. And this from the people who have the whole vast world of Maori iconography to choose from. And yet? Take a look at these:

flag-red-white-blue-sky-
Hey, I like the Vancouver Canucks! Well, I like the Rangers! Awesome, I know what country we can move to to start our new life together.
32079-koru-blue
We need to expand the non Hobbit side of the economy – let’s try to lure Shazam to move their corporate headquarters to Wellington.
15.-Grant-Pascoe-Pikopiko
Guys, the City of Ottawa has a TERRIBLE flag, but I think I’ve found a way to make it worse.
12.-Dominic-Carroll-Inclusive
Guys! I found out how to change outline colours in Illustrator. So cool. Also, look at that horrible space created at the end of the swirly thing: did this guy just add random white squares and circles until it looked about right?
7056-hundertwasser-updated
Come to New Zealand, we will unfurl our large tentacle to welcome you. Japanese tourism skyrockets.
Sven
Let’s turn the tentacle upside down and turn it into a battering ram! And add some stars for some American aggression! White or red stars? Both! Note – yours is the only flag on this earth with freaking shapes with outlines for a reason. Stop it.
8.-Daniel-Crayford-and-Leon-Cayford-The-Curly-Koru
The next time you’re trapped in a whirlpool you’ll think: mmm, I could do with a pepsi. This one is a collaboration – it took double the brainpower to put a squiggle right in the middle.
Frizzell-flag-finalcurve
Solely designed to drive obsessives insane. Why is the bottom offset and not a cross? Why does the white line at the bottom break the green for a tiny bit instead of just touching it? And same with the black at the top? And why can’t the green at right continue gracefully into the corner? And why is the inner green absolutely a tentacle? What is this?
39.-Travis-Cunningham-NZ-One
We’re Libya, with pizzaz!
20320-koruandstars1stvariant
This time the tentacle is feeling a little whimsical and saying “hey stars, follow me”. Follow me where? To this pointless red area.
You didn't like the Shazam flag? How about more pirate-y? Yes, it's by the SAME GUY. He changed one colour.
You didn’t like the Shazam flag? How about more pirate-y? Yes, it’s by the SAME GUY. He changed one colour.
Weird shape: check. Outline stars: check. Colours that don't clash or really go together: check. Next.
Weird shape: check. Outline stars: check. Colours that don’t clash or really go together: check. Next.
Wait, wait, wait... what if the tentacles had... tentacles! This is a country that I, as a squid, could feel very comfortable in.
Wait, wait, wait… what if the tentacles had… tentacles! This is a country that I, as a squid, could feel very comfortable in.
This flag is a love story: two tentacles, one coiling, one reaching for the other, wow it just symbolizes so much.
This flag is a love story: two tentacles, one coiling, one reaching for the other, wow it just symbolizes so much.

Is it not extremely weird that fourteen of the final designs are a tentacle/scribble thing on a field of one or two colours? That’s thirty five percent! Seriously, how did they manage to all look exactly the same? And don’t you think the selection committee is maybe, just a teeny bit, suggesting to the Kiwi public “hey, what about tentacles?”. Now I checked it out, and fine, it’s not actually a tentacle. It’s a koru. Which is an unfurling fern frond. Which is a… fiddlehead.

Unknown

Weak. But these guys are totally obsessed with fiddleheads. Here’s some two more stylized fiddleheads, but we know what’s really going on here.

Lay your dildo upon mine. Why is the top red? Why does the blue dildo colour continue into the bottom? What is this?
Lay your dildo upon mine. Why is the top red? Why does the blue dildo colour continue into the bottom? What is this?
New Zealand: if our people are preoccupied with sheep our sex toys operate on themselves.
New Zealand: if our people are preoccupied with sheep our sex toys operate on themselves.

Now please, merciful god, enough with the freaking fiddleheads. Fine. But you know what fiddleheads turn into when they grow up? Ferns! And flags, apparently.

Hey look! A semi competent entry that doesn't utterly break your eyes to look upon it. Hopelessly boring, but still. C+
Hey look! A semi competent entry that doesn’t utterly break your eyes to look upon it. Hopelessly boring, but still. C+
This one creates a weird illusion as though it's a single line of barbapapas casting a white shadow. No.
This one creates a weird illusion as though it’s a single line of barbapapas casting a white shadow. And what the hell happens in the top right? No.
What if we just, like, suggest the presence of a stem, to like, symbolise things? Yeah.
What if we just, like, suggest the presence of a stem, to like, symbolise things? Yeah.
Now here's a real car crash. The designer wanted only three tones, but then he couldn't figure out how to handle the background of the top section, since it's the same colour as the foreground (hint: make one light grey). But no problem, just add a nonsensical white shape behind that area. Done! Design pro.
Now here’s a real car crash. The designer wanted only three tones, but then he couldn’t figure out how to handle the background of the top section, since it’s the same colour as the foreground (hint: make one light grey). But no problem, just add a nonsensical white shape behind that area. Done! Design pro.
Or there's this version of the above, but done by someone who knows how to use Illustrator.
Or there’s this version of the above, but done by someone who knows how to use Illustrator.
Or THIS entry by the same guy as above, only with the colours.... reversed! Whoa! Computers can truly do anything.
Or THIS entry by the same guy as above, only with the colours…. reversed! Whoa! Computers can truly do anything.

Now we get to the most ridiculous part, the Kyle Lockwood Section. Now remember that there are only 40 selected, of ten thousand. So along comes Kyle Lockwood, who submits this:

Ferns! And black! Eh? What do you think everybody? No? You want a little more?
Ferns! And black! Eh? What do you think everybody? No? You want a little more?
Hey! A grown up fiddlehead and stars with outlines, it's perfect! Put what's that? You don't like all black? Well...
Hey! A grown up fiddlehead and I’ve added some stars with outlines, it’s perfect! But what’s that? You don’t like all black? Well…
Okay! Here, I made part of it blue. Better? No?
Okay! Here, I made part of it blue. Better? No?
Slightly darker blue, and, uh... red! Eh? How about that? Look at that, just gorgeous... wait, what? Oh....
Slightly darker blue, and, uh… red! Eh? How about that? Look at that, just gorgeous… wait, what? Oh….
Okay, okay, back to black, but not entirely black, honestly guys, um... I could make these shapes like any colour in the world, seriously.
Okay, okay, back to black, but not entirely black, honestly guys, um… I could make these shapes like any colour in the world, seriously.

This guy gets to have five different designs considered, four of which are literally exactly the same, except he changed a colour. Why not just have this flag forty times?? I’m picturing him shuffling around the flag HQ boardroom saying “no, you don’t like red, well what about (pause) YELLOW?!” while the committee gasps in surprise. So now we’re at twenty seven designs, all of which involve a fiddlehead or a fern leaf. Zero kiwi birds, zero kiwi fruit, no sheep, no hobbits, no rugby dudes, no exploding Greenpeace boat, basically nothing cool. Next up we have the entries based on stars.

30754-nz-flag-final114
New Zealand. We have a sky. And lines.
Matthew-Clare-The-Seven-Stars-or-Matariki-on-a-Black-FINAL
Hmmm… We don’t want any school child without a protractor and slide rule to be able to draw our flag correctly. This should do! (Canada really excels in this category as well). This flag would have the advantage of having Oakland Raiders fans support New Zealand in international competitions, I guess.
14125-flag3
We want the flag to look bad. With an optical illusion that makes it look like the stars aren’t vertically centred. And we want to look like an American State flag, after all the cool ideas and letters were taken (since every state has to write their name on their flag). Check!
Kelleher
New Zealand, we have MORE stars and sky and land. Come on Kiwis, is it four stars or seven? Decide!
37.-Sven-Baker-Southern-Cross-Horizon
Black? Not quite. Stars the same size? Not quite. Line in the middle? Sure why not! Does it break up the Southern Cross for some reason? Is that star special? Who cares?!
Oh yeah?! I can add a THIRD swoosh to this flag! And my stars have outlines, suckers.
Oh yeah?! I can add a THIRD swoosh to this flag! And my stars have outlines, suckers.

And then two bizarrely similar entires based on the KOA logo.

dsf
Shapes! Triangles! Is it a tent? A mountain? Three triangles getting ready to fight? Two triangles bullying a small black triangle? Who knows?
adf
But if that one doesn’t do it for you, how about we rotate all the colours clockwise, and mute them? Eh? Now that’s a flag!

These look like they would have coded meanings in a European train yard. No, don’t hit that switch! Only three more to go. Our next two are fine. But they are from someone with a really, really cool name: Pax Zwanikken. For real. No he’s not a Futurama character.

Pax-Zwanniken-Raranga-FINAL.png

Pax-Zwanikken-Tukutuku-FINAL.png

These are cool enough. They’re stark, easy to remember and identify, and sort of kind of reference the current flag. But only one person really understood this whole business. Only one freaking person in all of New Zealand understood that the flag should be recognizable. That it should reference the past. That it should point to the future. That it should be distinct and actually look like a flag and not the icon for a phone app. Only one person took the simplest possible route to success: just make a Union Jack OUT OF FIDDLEHEADS. And it works.

BLACK-JACK-FLAG-Mike-Davison

But can it take down the old flag?

2000px-Flag_of_New_Zealand.svg

You know, I think it can. But any of those squiggly ferny things get in there, and it’s a first round knockout for the OG flag. NB: when I become King of Canada we will absolutely be returning to the Red Ensign. Love that flag.

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