Artisan Blog

The Design History of The Flag

Wednesday, July 04, 2018
The Design History of The Flag

Wishing you a happy 4th of July!

The contemporary "stars and stripes" design has its origins in the early days of the republic. The original version of the design was officially adopted by the Second Continental Congress in 1777. Francis Hopkinson took credit for its design, contradicting the legend propagated by the descendants of seamstress Betsy Ross that she created the first flag from a sketch by George Washington. Most specifics of its origin are lost to history, though its symbolism has been fairly consistent.

The official flag design has gone through 26 variations since 1777. The current version, with 50 stars and thirteen stripes, has been in use since July 4, 1960, when it was adopted to honor the addition of Hawaii. It will likely change again if Puerto Rico or the District of Columbia achieve statehood.

The number of stars and stripes has represented the number of colonies and states in the union, although sometimes not exactly (to avoid clutter, among other reasons). Traditionally, the red represents valor and strength, the white represents innocence and purity, and the blue represents perseverance and justice. Although mass-market reproductions use different shades, any flag produced by the government must use pure white (#FFFFFF), Old Glory Blue (#002868), and Old Glory Red (#BF0A30).

Numerous artists - Norman Rockwell, Jasper Johns, Barbara Kreuger, Robert Longo, and thousands of lesser-known pop artists and graphic designers - have taken their liberties with the flag, incorporating it into their work to convey a spectrum of emotion and meaning. Among many other ideas, the flag represents an expressive and creative freedom that has generated a bounty of design work, from the reverent and patriotic to the humorous and subversive.

Outside of a few Scandinavian countries, few nations have the reverence for their flags that many Americans do, particularly those within and adjacent to the US Armed Forces. Conversely, the desecration and abuse of the flag, as a form of protest, has been widely practiced and consistently deemed protected by the First Amendment.

One of its most powerful messages is a celebration of the ability to rearrange traditional symbols to honor history, to question tradition, or to communicate something new. The work of artists, graphic designers, and artrepreneurs affects how we think, how we live, and how we consider the world around us. In any context, it is an urgently important discipline and pursuit.

Celebrate taking charge of your creative career. Contact Artisan Creative today to learn more.

Wishing you a Happy Independence Day.

We hope you've enjoyed the 478th issue of our a.blog.


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