UPDATE: Here’s my “final” design:


Before you read this post, go watch Roman Mars’ TED talk about flag design.

The city I live in, Fairbanks, doesn’t have a city flag. So I thought, I’d take a shot at designing one as an exercise.

In case you didn’t actually watch the TED talk I linked above, here are five vexillological principles from the North American Vexillological Association (taken from a 99% Invisible blog post):

1. Keep it simple

2. Use meaningful symbolism

3. Use two to three basic colors

4. No lettering or seals of any kind.

5. Be distinctive

With those in mind, I tried to think about what is distinctive about Fairbanks that could go on a flag — and the city seal is definitely not going to be part of this design.
Fairbanks City Seal

The first thing I thought of is the winding Chena River. It flows through the center of town and is the site of many Fairbanks activities in both the summer and winter. So I figured that should be heavily incorporated.

I also thought I should include a reference to the dramatic difference between winter and summer and to two natural resources that helped build the city: gold and oil.

So here’s what I came up with:

First draft
First draft

The curve through the center represents the Chena River and the hills that border Fairbanks to the north. The white and black stars represent the gold boom and the oil boom, as well as the long summer days and the long winter nights.

I chose gold and blue because Fairbanks is the Golden Heart of Alaska, so gold had to be prominent. And I liked the image of sky blue over gold hills.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think — it’s the first time I’ve designed a flag and I would love some feedback!

EDIT: I got some great feedback on Twitter and I’ve made some improvements. Here’s version 2:

Second draft
Second draft

• Swapped black and white stars for increased contrast
• Right star no longer inverted so nobody reads into unintentional symbolism
• Darker blue — the colors now mimic the Alaska flag


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