GDES-270 spring 2022 / David Ramos, American University Design


Flags present a particularly thorny design challenge. They need to represent a place, a political entity, and a community of people, in a way that offers at least some meaning to everyone. They operate with limited vocabularies of shapes, symbols, and colors, and they must be recognizable from a distance. For this project, you’ll choose a place and design a new flag for it.


Choose a state, county, city, or similar political entity. No countries or nations; no private organizations or companies.

Part 1: Research

Identify a place. Learn more about the place—its history, culture, aspirations, and problems. Gather images that relate to the place somehow, of subjects like key monuments, landmarks, objects, people, or events.

Part 2: Ideation

Sketch out symbols, and start grouping them into possible flags. Choose color palettes. Generate 3–4 sets of symbols and 2–3 color palettes. Be able to explain their significance.

Part 3: Design development

Chose one final direction. Draw a final flag, working by hand, in Illustrator or on the computer, or using both tools. Turn in a PDF or JPEG of your flag.