New Jersey's State Flag Is Horrible. Let's Make a Better One.

UPDATED:We have received several hundred flags, the ten best have been scored and chosen by a panel of judges and THE VOTE IS ON! Click hereto go to the voting page to choose your favorite and view the top 100 submissions chosen by the judges.The year 2014 markedNew Jersey's 350th anniversary, a milestone thathas provided a wonderfulchance to celebrate everything - from greatmusicto a mind-blowinglyrich history - that makes the state great.But we shouldn't have allowed the year to pass without addressing a crucial shortcoming: our flag.See, the New Jersey state flag, is, by all measures, failure.The flag of a nation, state, city or tribe should be such a point of pride that it is prominently and popularly flown and displayed. Ours is not. Do you fly it on your house Do you have it on t-shirt Do you see it flown all over the place like residents of Texas or New Mexico do with their state flagsNo. Nobody does.A flag should be recognizable. Or at the very least, it should at least look good on a bumper sticker, identifiable from a few car lengths away in a traffic jam.New Jersey's flag Good luck picking it out of a lineup.Theflag violates nearly all of the well established principles of good flag design.According to the North American Vexillological Association, they include:1. Keep it simple: the design should be simple enough for a child to draw it from memory2. Use meaningful symbols3. Use 2-3 basic colors4. No lettering or seals5. Be distinctiveThe New Jersey state flag, adopted by the legislature in 1896, is what vexillologists refer to as a "seal on a bed sheet." It features the state seal against a buff background.While the colors of blue and buff are well chosen (they come from the uniforms of George Washington's troops during the Revolutionary War) few, if any, of the other symbols are unique to the Garden State.But I'm not here to bash the current state flag.When the legislature adopted the flag it was merely as a way of marking the headquarters of the governor as commander-in-chief of the state militia. It wasn't clear if it was even legal for anyone but the governor to fly the flag until a new law was passed in 1938 specifically allowing it.The purpose of flags have changed.A flag can reflect people's pride in a state or country, but in the process it can also amplify that pride. And lord knows, our embattled and often mocked state could use a little ego boost every now and then."Today, counties and cities and states and even state agencies are very concerned about branding," John Hartvingsen, president of the North American Vexillological Association told me. "The state flag or other symbols identify the state and say 'this is who we are'. And are they recognizable"Hartvingsen, a Utah resident who has fought a lengthy battle to update his state's flag, cautioned me against rocking the boat too much, saying folks in New Jersey, especially lawmakers, may resent my criticism of the state flag. He cautioned me to tone down my criticism of the current flag and sent me this suggested redesign of the current state flag. It doesn't change much, but at least it's more recognizable."Updating or tweaking or making the current state flag to make it pop, you might have better luck with that than a whole different emblem," he told me.Sorry, John. I think we can do better.So let's fix this.Using the principles of flag design, I hereby call on you, the graphic designers, history buffs, students, and armchair vexillologists of this great state to submit your designs for a new New Jersey state flag. Grade school students studying New Jersey history and symbols Get out your magic markers.Check out some of the primers on good flag design. Think about what makes this state great. And then submit yours new flag, along with a few lines describing the symbols and colors and methodology.You can draw by hand, paint, use design software, whatever. If you don't have graphic software, I suggest using an online site like Canva.com, which is super easy to design your own flag with.We have multiple ways for you to submit your flag:The best way Fill out a special form we've designed just for this:If you prefer social media, you can post your flag to Twitter with the hashtag #newnjflag.You can even email them to me at , if you do it in water colors or crayons, you can put it an envelope and snail mail it to me at the address below.Brian DonohueNJ Advance Media485 Route 1 South Building E, Suite 300Iselin, NJ 08830-3009We'll winnow down the submissions to the best handful and I'll personally head to Trenton to lobby members of the legislature to take up the cause.It may be a hopeless cause. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

New Jersey's State Flag Is Horrible. Let's Make a Better One. 1

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