A while back, I enjoyed someone's online video and/or article about city flags, and why some of them rule and why some suck, and what can be done to design a flag for one's own city that totally rules. Thoughts about the principles of flag design have been circulating in my brain ever since. And then, a few days ago, I happened upon a page full of the flags of U.S. states and I realized that I immediately knew which ones ruled and which ones sucked.
Characteristics of flags that rule: They tend to be distinctive, direct, fairly simple, and not too difficult to see at medium range or to reproduce with a little attention to detail. They contain symbols which, when explained to the viewer, should have a memorable relevance to the place they represent.
Characteristics of flags that suck: Some contain too much fussy detail, which cannot be distinctly seen without eye strain except at very close range. Some tastelessly beg the question with block letters spelling out the place they represent (though a nice motto or key-word might be acceptable). Some contain politically polarizing imagery, such as the Confederate stars and bars. Some may be just ugly, crude looking, or unintentionally funny, showing a lack of an eye for proportion or color coordination.
As I explore these flag designs, please note that I am indebted to good old Wikipedia, which you should visit if you want to learn more. If you don't, my summaries should suffice...
Part 1: U.S. Flags that Totally Rule
Coming in Part 2: U.S. State Flags that Mostly Rule.