Friday, March 12, 2010

An Issue of Marginal Importance that Would be Nice to Settle Sometime in the Future

Wisconsin has a boring state flag. It's so boring and looks like so many other states' flags that in 1979 the legislature had to add the words "WISCONSIN" and "1848" to help distinguish it from Kentucky's, Michigan's, New Hampshire's, Nebraska's, Minnesota's ... It's a vexillogical nightmare -- way too busy by any sound graphic design standards, but for as lacking as the Wisconsin state flag is, it's a virtual Picasso compared to the atrocity that is the Milwaukee city flag:
Look at that thing. It goes out of it's way to make bad design decisions at every turn. Why are there three tiers of waves (and do waves really need to be two different colors?) above the "Milwaukee"? The background is already blue -- we get it: Milwaukee's by water. The font looks like it was ripped off a can of Stroh's circa 197o. It's got the old County Stadium on it -- a venue that no longer exists. It features the skyline of a city that really doesn't have much of a skyline. It also goes the "flag-within-a-flag" route, which is unforgivable. There's a factory belching out smoke on it, as if the giant goddamn gear in the middle wasn't enough to say "We're industrious!" There's a Native American in full head dress mirroring an executive sitting behind some kind of art deco triangular desk for some reason... and let's not even get started on the ship, which I should probably be thankful is only three colors and not 46. The most interesting image on the flag, the golden wheat stalk, is "balanced" by numerals on the opposite side of the flag. And what the hell are those white blotches hoovering over the church? Clouds? Seagulls? The tears of unfathomable sadness that inevitably befall anyone looking at this existential cry for help?

There have apparently been numerous redesign contests held throughout the years, but none have ever really panned out. I have a sneaking suspicion this has a lot to do with the city's byzantine internal politics. Milwaukee can do better. If it were up to me I'd throw out everything on the flag and just leave wheat stalk on a blue background and move it to the center of the flag. That tells you everything you need to know about Milwaukee right there with a cool little symbol that also looks like a ladder.

1 comment:

Vexillogical Stewie said...

I never enjoy pissin' matches (contrary to popular..) and this is more interesting than yer fisticuffs wit da Nazi.

- I assume the waves are the 2 colors for "balance" as you mentioned with the yellow stuff on each side. It maybe is supposed to be a bit more white that in combination with the Half-ship white "anchors" the white circle-gear on the field of blue.

- And the white circle is CLEARLY not a gear, but is in fact Mike Hoo-zit's Iron Circle!!! and the Iron Circle is Uber Alles too . Achtung baby!

- At first glance I thought the ship was a shovel. I guess that's all I need to say about that.

- re: the Executive at a desk. I thought that was an alien in a shuttle craft! Which was awesome, and so now I'm really disillusioned.

- the wheat is like a ladder? whoa, like is that symbolism for climbing the rungs of influence and power. Deep. And creepy. I know a guy who is doing that right now, moved to the City of the Iron Circle to Meet and Compete. Blaaargh.

- Are you sure that's a Church? It looks kinda barn-ish to me, Or like one of those big Fair Animal Pavilion thingies. Could it be a reference to the Milw. State Fair? If so then I'd guess those white things on top are just generic flags atop Ye Old Pig Barn. The smell of which joins with the factory/smog coming from various parts of the flag and the stench of shitty politics and polluted Lake water, which all gets churned up by the Iron Wheel into one really noxious mass that is known as Milwaukee.

Are you SURE this isn't the perfect flag for the situation as it is???

And IMO logo-design-by-contest is just going to be shitty. You know what they say about the Camel - it's a horse designed by a committee.
Furthermore good designers who hear about the contest will KNOW damn well that "contests' are just another BUTTFUCK of the creative community by the Business Community.
WHO are quite happy to make $ off the "creatives" by writing "entertainment" magazines that showcase their doings, and selling concessions related to "cultural events" etc. and hawking the wonderful culture of our community blah blah
But when it comes to PAYING fairly for creative services yep - the mutherfuckers always always want if for FREE Because somehow, in their addled brains "creative" goods and services are not really "goods and services" like any other. But inspite of that low low valuation at payment time, they sure do enhance their own goods and services.
You figure that one out, I can't. But most people who aren't hacks and no-talents will NOT wanna give it away like that. Some will sucker for the "I'll get exposure and free advertising" ploy but a lot won't. It will be some church lady who scribbles out some kindergarten design be cause all her girlfriends n Bible Study say "Oh Shirley, you're SO talented". So enjoy that photo of the winner in an appliqued kitten sweatshirt and a hair helmet. Blaargh revisited.

And even if you DID hahahaaaaa get a good design submitted, the people selecting WINNERS don't know their asses from Page 8. And they'll choose some crappy kindergarten thing, or a logo that promotes THEIR type of business/hobby/pet group.
Look at your local politicians ~ their ties, shirts, hair, their "je ne se quois". Then think "flag design" and go bang your head on some rocks.