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Friday
Jun062014

392. The Irrational 10th.

I have had such a great time writing for Graphicology over the years, but like all good things - they are eventually replaced with something better. I would love it for all the readers to check out The Irrational Tenth and follow along over there. (And thanks for the many years of support.) The new platform will cover some of the same material as always, but with more of an emphasis on work that pushes the boundaries of creativity, technology, pop culture, and business. Check it out!

Saturday
Jul272013

390. State Flag Revisions: Indiana. 

Artist Paul Hadley's 'Town Scene' WatercolorSo, New York called and wants its torch back. And no state deserves that many stars on it's flag, so we have some work to do here. First, as usual, let's figure out how we got to this dark and lowly state. (Actually, it's not nearly the worst flag, just says absolutely nothing about Indiana apart from the other 49. We'll fix that for sure.)

During the state's 1916 Centennial celebrations, those old ne'er do wells, The Daughters of the American Revolution sponsored yet another design competition at the request of the state's General Assembly. It was not uncommon as we've already learned for states to go flag-less well into the 19th century. And it was also quite common for these so called competitions to be judged with ethical standards of the Russian Olympic judges. They received over 200 submissions, which is pretty good since 99centflagdesigns.com wasn't yet up and running. The winning design was submitted by Indiana artist Paul Hadley, and was adopted on May 31, 1917. Small fact, the flag wasn't called a flag officialy until 1955 - when the government decided that it didn't have anything better to do than rename the state banner the state flag. Apparently, it was a slow year for Indiana state government.

So what does this flag look like? Anything in your mind those of you outside of Indiana? I didn't think so. Well, it's a gold or buff-colored torch (again no real color standards here) of liberty and enlightment set on a blue field and surrounded by approximately 852 stars of different sizes. Actually the number is 19 stars. 13 for the original colonies set in a large circle and five set in an inner circle, representing the next five states admitted into the union—none of which would have a place on the flag at all, excpet that Indiana coincidentally was the 19th state. I guess they needed to count up. The 19th star on the flag is the largest and sits on top of the torch, and they've been kind of enough to include the word, Indiana in case you forgot you were in Indiana. No state has yet to include the name of another state on their flag, so thanks Indiana for being so clear like your friends in Idaho and Illinois who've also included their name on the flag.

According to the Indiana Room blog, the artist Paul Hadley was "an art instructor at the Herron School of Art (1922-1933), he specialized in watercolors and outdoor sketches. Paul became Assistant Curator of the Art Association (1935-36). He travelled the country, capturing distinctively local scenes that defined mid-20th century Hoosier and American culture. He lived in Mooresville, Plainfield, and, finally, Richmond, IN, where he died on Jan. 31, 1971." Also, "Paul was named “most popular artist” at the 1922 Indiana State Fair. He did not drive a car; instead, he hiked cross-country to paint the scenic views. His ability to capture the essence of his subjects was matched by superb use of color and realism, softened with impressionistic tones." No disrespect to Paul who passed away in 1971, but we have to change the flag.

Indiana State Flag Designer, Paul Hadley (left) with student:

The only other details I found interesting about the flag, is this little tidbit added to the regulations in 1967.

Sec. 1. A new and different Indiana state flag shall be displayed at the state capitol building on each and every day whenever practicable and feasible. (Formerly: Acts 1967, c.162, s.1.) As amended by Acts 1979, P.L.1, SEC.2.)

The Current Indiana State Flag:

Now, I don't know about you, but when I think of Indiana I think of this little film.

And there are worse things to build a new flag design around than basketball, and I think most citizens of Indiana would put their contribution to roundball right up there with, well whatever else Indiana is famous for. So we're going to design around basketball, but we're also going to connect the basketball design with their current state motto, The Crossroads of America which came to be in 1829 when the National Road connected Indianapolis with the eastern part of the country. (This was the first major improved highway funded by the Federal Government by the way.) You still learned things from this old site now don't you? Oh, and guess what, they'll even get a subtle 'I' in the design as well. This is the people's flag of Indiana. Done and done. Next stop is the absolute horror of Iowa's flag.

The New Indiana State Flag:



Friday
Jun212013

389. The Automotive Apple?

It's been a pretty good year for Tesla so far. They get an almost perfect score from the traditionally picky Consumer Reports folks, they announced that they had turned their first profit earlier in the first quarter, and their Model S is outselling BMW and Mercedes models that are similarly priced. Just today(!) as I began to write this, there's an article from the Wall Street Journal basically using these facts to explain how Tesla has pulled ahead of the electric-car pack. I believe they're doing so not by marketing the product as an electric vehicle, but as one of the best luxury vehicles you can buy regardless of the powertrain.

Elon Musk, the company's CEO is from South Africa, but is known for leading SpaceX and founding PayPal besides his role at Tesla. Clearly, he is an entrepreneur on the scale of Richard Branson and seems intent on disrupting the automotive industry like he has online payments and space tourism.

But why the Apple comparison? Take a minute and Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, or Dogpile Elon Musk + Steve Jobs and you'll be treated to a myriad of comparisons mostly due to his presentation skills. There's also the affinity for disrupting categories like I mentioned above. Usually, I dismiss "He's the next ______" in any situation (see M. Jordan for an example) but there's something to this at least in terms of Musk being a charismatic and effective leader. Where I saw the most glaring argument for this position is in Tesla's showroom. At least before I saw the video about the 90 second battery exchange yesterday - a race between the Tesla serve and fueling up a traditional car, below.

The 'dealership' is like nothing you'll experience at other car lots in the country. Mainly, because it's not a car dealership at all. It's a store. An Apple Store with cars. Not an identical replica of an Apple store, but cleary a shopping experience designed to impress and engage, using technology and minimalism to highlight a product that you can't even buy. (There's a long waiting list you can join if you want.)

We're lucky enough to have one here in Scottsdale so I went and checked it out. I think the pictures below tell the story. All I kept thinking was that this could have been the Chevy Volt. (If they could have figured out a way to get past the dealer unions. Tesla is being pressured to change this direct to consumer sales model.) The experience is part showroom, part exhibit, part store and all completely cool.

 

Friday
May102013

388. State Flag Revisions: Kentucky. I lied. 

Image from: http://silkroadsandsiamesesmiles.com/about/I thought I knew what I was going to do with the Kentucky flag, but I changed my mind. It's been so long that since I started that particular piece that I've moved on. (A Looooooooong time. This whole Creative Director thing sure can take up one's spare time.) Lincoln is going to have to suffice with one flag and a design that I'm most likely going to come back at the end of this deal to revise significantly. (I do try to limit myself to an hour or so of actual design time. More for research.) Any way, let's revisit the history behind Kentucky's flag and see if I can't do something more flag-like with the visual, something for which hard-core flag snobs have been crying. (And I'm glad I can count hard-core flag snobs as my readers along with crazy type geeks, design nerds and advertising nuts. You're amongst friends here.)

Okay, a little Kentucky history.

To understand the craziness that is the Kentucky state flag, one must first understand the lunacy of the Kentucky state seal. The original seal was commissioned back in 1792 by the Kentucky General Assembly and was described as such, “Two friends embracing, with the name of the state over their heads and around about the following motto: United we stand, divided we fall.” Seems easy enough, but by now you know how loose and fancy-free states run with their flags, Kentucky particularly and humorously so. According to John Brown, its first Senator, the original seal was to depict two friends, both in hunter’s clothes, in mid-handshake, with the left hands resting on the other’s shoulder. The silversmith who was paid to design the seal in 1793 depicted both men in swallowtail coats and in a full embrace. This seal was destroyed in the 1814 fire that spread in the state capitol.

Because of the lack of specifics regarding these “friends” and their greeting, many different versions of the state seal have showed up over the years. The friends are shown in everything from suits to Roman togas. Their greeting becomes anything from the modern handshake to a hug. It’s Kentucky lore that some die-makers took creative liberty with the poses to demonstrate their penchant for Kentucky bourbon and being drunk enough to actually get along. When painted in the House of Representatives in the mid 1850’s, the artist showed one man in a buckskin boots and the other in formal wear, in front of several columns. One version has the  left hand of one friend shaking the right hand of the other, making it appear like they are dancing. In 1954, Ernie Giancola, a Louisville native, created a more natural looking handshake which is used in the current day seal. In 1962, the General Assembly rushed into the situation after almost 200 years, and mandated that one friend be a pioneer, the other a gentleman in a swallowtail coat.

The Crazy Dancing Kentucky State Seal:

It’s a common belief that the pioneer represents Daniel Boone, and the gentleman, Henry Clay, the state’s most visible politician, but this is not true. The friends represent all manner of country and urban folks. You can point this out next time you’re traveling through Frankfurt and your know-it-all friend tells you otherwise. You’ll show him a thing or two.

That’s that for the Kentucky state seal.  (Much of this came from Wiki, more so than usual, so check out this link and this link.)

The flag is merely the state seal, set on a blue, but as we just read it wasn’t until 1962 that it became useful or accurate for a flag. Interestingly enough, in 1920 a committee from Camp Zachary decided they didn’t like the flag and offered up several suggestions for its improvement. In typical state flag history form, those revisions were lost along their journey to the Governor. Then, and you can’t make this up, in 1927 the Kentucky Historical Society commissioned art teacher, Jesse Cox Burgess to design a standard from which the flags could be made. Three flags were produced using oil and ink, but only 2 of those flags made it back to Frankfurt, as one was lost during use in a ceremony in Chicago.

Two final tidbits. 1. It was law between 1962 and 1998 that the flagpole used to hoist the state flag must have a Kentucky Cardinal at its head. In ’98, that law was changed merely to be a recommendation. 2. The flag’s proportion is much longer than other state flags, but we’ll be having none of that mess. That ends here.

*Note: Kentucky is technically a commonwealth much like my former homes of Pennsylvania and Virginia. Add to that mix, Massachusetts to complete the full list of Commonwealths in the US. What’s the difference? The short answer is nothing. Constitutionally speaking they are the same thing. The long, nerding-out answer? PA, VA and MA were some of the most revolutionary states during the American Revolution, and they wanted to signify a difference in their intended government. Commonwealth referenced the Commonwealth Period in British history when there were no Kings but instead England was ruled by Parliament.

There's not much else to know about the Kentucky state flag, other than to see it. If you closed your eyes and imagined the average US state flag, well, this is probably what you would see.

The Current Kentucky State Flag:

Initially, I wanted to do a tie-in with Lincoln's birthplace as a metaphor for the American rags-to-riches (or prominence) story, but the idea lost momentum with me when designing it. I just couldn't get it right. And the longer I took with it, the less it seemed like a true symbol for the state. A good reference, but not an obvious, "That's the gosh-darn Kentucky state flag, right there!". I needed something more simple. More graphic. And yes, more flag-like.

So, I started to reflect about my drives through the Kentucky countryside, the farms, the connection to horse racing and the obvious idea of Kentucky bluegrass  came to my mind. Maybe it's a cliche, but it also seamlessly fits into a more flag-looking flag than the previous state's design and so I set the timer and got to work. Truthfully, this flag took all of about ten minutes to design from start to finish and I'm okay admitting that, because I think it works. The tough part was deciding what exact shade best represents Kentucky Bluegrass blue-green.

Technically bluegrass is well, grass-colored. Dark green. But it has buds that in the right light appear to have a bluish hue, but that's only if you let it grow to its full height of two to three feet. I'm sure there are variations that have been grown with different characteristics, but this is the short truth of things. (I'm sure there are also a slew of Kentuckians who will help me fill out the background in the comments too.) I did find a Dutch-Boy paint color called Kentucky Bluegrass 11-G-1 that I used for my reference when designing my new Kentucky flag. My goal was to represent Kentucky in a way that set them apart from the other states, and do so as efficiently as possible. I'm happy with the results. It will a handsome flag.

The New Kentucky State Flag.


Simply a field of Kentucky bluegrass, equal to the height of the sky above the fence, set in simple white shapes. About as elegant as you get and quite appropriate I think.

 

Friday
Feb152013

387. The Americans Title Sequence

I've been enjoying The Americans, a show about Russian sleeper spies who have infiltrated suburban American life in the 1980s. Of particular interest of this blog is the title sequence that debuted preceding episode #2. There are some details that are hinted at in the sequence that makes the show work. The russian characters are likable and even people you can relate to, which adds to the tension when they match wits with the FBI and CIA. Watching the sequence helps you realize that one could just as easily been born over there than here, and that fact alone would change your life and put you on the other side of the cold war. The titles also do a good job comparing and contrasting life in both countries, each with leaders who were hell bent on conflict but whose people were just that. People. People who only want to be happy, spend time with their family and live a safe, comfortable life. The soundtrack and edit give the work a sense of tension and a frenetic undercurrent. All that in 26 seconds. Not bad.

Like any good title sequence, it's much better when studied frame by frame than in motion. It helps you appreciate the detail, and I've included some selects below. The Americans airs on FX, and stars Keri Russell and Mattthew Rhys among others. Right now, I can't seem to find who produced/designed the titles, but I'm on the hunt! Let me know if you have any tips.

The Americans Title Sequence

The Americans Full Title Sequence:

 


Friday
Dec282012

386. State Flag Revisions: Illinois (+ Half of Kentucky)

This turned into a two-part Abe Lincoln State Flag Special.

Well it didn’t start out that way, it started out with me researching the history of Illinois’ state flag and it turned into something a little bigger. Let’s start with Illinois and go from there.

Illinois, more than any flag we’ve met so far, represents all that is wrong with most of our state flags. I mean this not just in simple design terms, but also in the process the design went through to become the state’s official banner. Here are a few of the warning signs for Illinois (named after a major Native American tribe from the area, for the record):

1. The state flag design started out as a free-for-all competition in 1912. Strike numero uno.
2. The contest would pay a whopping sum of $25—only $574 in today’s currency. Strike numero dos. How did that came to be? Ella Park Lawrence was elected State Regent of the Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (a group directly and indirectly responsible for many state flags in the early 1900's). On a trip to DC soon thereafter, she realized that in Memorial Continental Hall’s state flag display, Illinois was a glaring omission. Thus the inspiration for the design contest.
3. The process involved a committee, a group of four judges who evaluated 35 designs in the following years of 1913-14. If this were baseball, they would have struck out, but since it’s flag design there are many more strikes to come.
4. Lucy Derwent of the Rockford Chapter of (you guessed it) The Daughters of the American Revolution, submitted the winning design, if you can call it that. It featured the state seal (strike four, a swing and a miss) on a white field. Miss Derwent, went all out on this one didn’t she? A state seal on a color field? Where have we heard this story before? Time for an intermission, check out the results of her labor.

Illinois State Flag:

Ella Park with Her, um Design:

Illinois State Seal History

Because Miss Park-Lawrence didn’t really design anything, let’s look at the state seal design history. Nothing really to see here in the top two squares  from 1818, you have your basic design based on the Great Seal of the United States. An eagle carrying arrows and an olive branch, combined with a constellation of stars representing the other states and Illinois joining them, added to a shield of red, white and blue. It’s changed a bit over the years, the second seal was introduced in 1825 (bottom left), with a reversed eagle, a constellation condensed down to three stars and fewer arrows in the eagle’s talons. I guess someone thought six or seven was too aggressive? A motto was added to a ribbon, State Sovereignty, National Union. More on that in a second, the last addition was the date the territory became a state, August 26, 1818. 

Illinois State Seal Examples:

In 1868 a new seal was introduced (bottom right) that used a totally different eagle, added a few boulders and a distant horizon of a sunrise. The interesting thing about this design is that because of the Civil War, the state motto was now seen as controversial, with national unity being more important than state sovereignty. The state legislature probably didn’t agree so they refused to change the motto. The new design slyly twisted the scroll in such a way that National Unity literally appears above the words state sovereignty. That’s kind of a cool little detail, don’t you think? Pretty sneaky, guys, pretty sneaky. Who doesn’t like getting one past a bunch of politicians?

5. Back to baseball. The fifth strike for this flag was thrown during the Vietnam War, when Chief Petty Officer Bruce McDaniel grew tired of his state flag being one of the few whose identity was constantly questioned as they hung around the mess hall. McDaniel requested that the flag design be altered with the addition of the state’s name being written across the bottom, in blue uppercase of course. McDaniel wasn’t wrong per se, but the solution was short-sighted. It would have been far better to create a unique flag, than to literally tell people from which state the flag flies. So maybe this isn’t a strike, but a foul tip. He did solve the immediate problem, I suppose.

6. The sixth strike is a doozy and a shame, something that goes down as one of the biggest vexillological gaffes in history. (Yep!) One of the flag design submissions entered during the first contest back in 1912 was entered by author/newspaperman Wallace Rice. His design featured horizontal white-blue-white stripes with twenty blue stars and one large white star. (Illinois was the 21st state to enter the union.) This design eventually became, posthumously, the Centennial flag one hundred years later, somewhat reducing the sting of not being selected. Interestingly enough, and one must think Rice a flag aficionado at this point, he also successfully submitted a design that would become the official flag for Chicago in 1917, one of the best munincipal flags out there. I envision Rice, after losing out to a state seal on a white field, complaining about the client’s taste. His non-selection is a clear sixth strike and we’ve now cleared 2/3 of an inning with this flag.

Wallace Rice's Posthumous Centennial Illinois Flag:

Rice's 1917 Chicago City Flag Design:

(It should be noted that I’m not a big fan of Rice’s Illinois state submission, as we have too many stars and stripes focused flags that needlessly stick too closely to the ‘How to Design a Flag’ standards. Instead we need to create symbols that communicate something about the state’s story, first, then judge it on its traditional flag merits second.

Any way, that’s how the Illinois state flag came to be. At some point during the research I decided that I wanted to focus on President Lincoln as a graphic for the flag since the state uses Land of Lincoln on its license plates. He’s one of three presidents to take office while being a resident of Illinois. It’s Honest Abe, Ulysses S. Grant, and President Obama. (Not bad company.) There was only one President that was born in Illinois—though not a resident—when he took office, that being Ronald Reagan. There ya go. But if I stick with Lincoln as the main focus of my Illinois flag, what then is to become of Kentucky, the state in which Lincoln was born? Couldn't they stake a more certain claim on Linoln? And surely he can’t be the symbol for two state flags could he?

Well, let’s see. He preserved the union of this country during its most trying period. His foreign policy prevented other nations from intervening in the Civil War and from potentially changing the outcome. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation, something other Presidents should have done long before, then Lincoln followed that up with the 13th Amendment which formally ended slavery in the US. He signed bills into law that chartered the first transcontinental railroad, encouraged settlement west of the Mississippi with the Homestead Act, and with the Morrill Act signed into law grants that would establish no less than 69 colleges (!). If that weren't enough he signed into law the National Banking Act, which pretty much established the United States National Banking System and our national currency, which led to the Federal Reserve System. If you can accomplish all of this in only 1.25 terms, then you can be the subject of two state flags in my book. If Obama and the current congress could do this much in the coming months, maybe I'll find a place for them. Until then, Lincoln gets his two well-deserved flag kudos.

Check out the bottom of this post for the new Illinois State Flag.

Go See Lincoln, the Movie:


One more point before we move to the story behind Kentucky’s flag. If you haven’t ventured out to see Lincoln, the movie, I would suggest that you wait for it on DVD. Not because I didn’t like it, on the contrary I loved it, but it’s a movie that unfolds within the subtle shades of dialogue, in the shadows of small gestures, and in the slight characteristics of the actors. It’s one of those movies that are better enjoyed by being up close and personal with it, with the ability to go back and forth a bit to catch a little detail you might have otherwise missed in the theater. Not much actually happens in the film, which is the point for the most part. I also loved how Spielberg handled the assassination. It was as powerful as it was classy. (One could argue it’s how you should handle all the shooting tragedies of late. Watch it and see what I mean.) And make sure you don't accidentally rent or download the other Lincoln movie, you know, the vampire one.

Okay, onto more important matters.

To understand the craziness that is the Kentucky state flag, one must first understand the lunacy of the Kentucky state seal. The original seal was commissioned back in 1792 by the Kentucky General Assembly and was described as such, “Two friends embracing, with the name of the state over their heads and around about the following motto: United we stand, divided we fall.” Seems easy enough, but by now you know how loose and fancy-free states run with their flags, Kentucky particularly and humorously so. According to John Brown, its first Senator, the original seal was to depict two friends, both in hunter’s clothers, in mid-handshake, with the left hands resting on the other’s shoulder. The silversmith who was paid to design the seal in 1793 depicted both men in swallowtail coats and in a full embrace. This seal was destroyed in the 1814 fire that spread in the state capitol.

Because of the lack of specifics regarding these “friends” and their greeting, many different versions of the state seal have showed up over the years. The friends are shown in everything from suits to Roman togas. Their greeting becomes anything from the modern handshake to a hug. It’s Kentucky lore that some die-makers took creative liberty with the poses to demonstrate their penchant for Kentucky bourbon and being drunk enough to get actually get along. When painted in the House of Representatives in the mid 1850’s, the artist showed one man in a buckskin boots and the other in formal wear, in front of several columns. One version has the  left hand of one friend shaking the right hand of the other, making it appear like they are dancing. In 1954, Ernie Giancola, a Louisville native, created a more natural looking handshake which is used in the current day seal. In 1962, the General Assembly rushed into the situation after almost 200 years, and mandated that one friend be a pioneer, the other a gentleman in a swallowtail coat.

The Crazy Dancing Kentucky State Seal:

It’s a common misconception that the pioneer represents Daniel Boone, and the gentleman, Henry Clay, the state’s most visible politician, but this is not true. The friends represent all manner of country and urban folks. You can point this out next time you’re traveling through Frankfurt and your know-it-all friend tells you otherwise. You’ll show him a thing or two.

That’s that for the Kentucky state seal.  (Much of this came from Wiki, more so than usual, so check out this link and this link.)

The flag is merely the state seal, set on a blue, but as we just read it wasn’t until 1962 that it became useful or accurate for a flag. Interestingly enough, in 1920 a committee from Camp Zachary decided they didn’t like the flag and offered up several suggestions for its improvement. In typical state flag history form, those revisions were lost along their journey to the Governor. Then, and you can’t make this up, in 1927 the Kentucky Historical Society commissioned art teacher, Jesse Cox Burgess to design a standard from which the flags could be made. Three flags were produced using oil and ink, but only 2 of those flags made it back to Frankfurt, as one was lost during use in a ceremony in Chicago

Two final tidbits. 1. It was law between 1962 and 1998 that the flagpole used to hoist the state flag must have a Kentucky Cardinal at its head. In ’98, that law was changed merely to be a recommendation.  2. The flag’s proportion is much longer than other state flags, but we’ll be having none of that mess.

*Note: Kentucky is technically a commonwealth much like my former homes of Pennsylvania and Virginia. Add to that mix, Massachusetts to complete the full list of Commonwealths in the US. What’s the difference? The short answer is nothing. Constitutionally speaking they are the same thing. The long, nerding-out answer? PA, VA and MA were some of the most revolutionary states during the American Revolution, and they wanted to signify a difference in their intended government. Commonwealth referenced the Commonwealth Period in British history when there were no Kings but instead England was ruled by Parliament.

There's not much else to know about the Kentucky state flag, other than to see it. If you closed your eyes and imagined the average US state flag, well, this is probably what you envisioned.

The Current Kentucky State Flag:

So, what do we do with Lincoln and Kentucky? Let's hit Illinois this time around, and we'll update this post with Kentucky's as soon as we get it done. (It wont' be long, I promise.)

For Illinois I want to create something honoring the state as the Land of Lincoln and I started using the Lincoln Memorial designed by Daniel French as a reference. Illinois is where Lincoln resided when he began to make his mark. Even though the monument resides in DC, it’s the meaning and likeness that we can associate with the state. I tried it, but then didn't like it much. It happens.

Study/References of the Lincoln Memorial in DC:

New Illinois State Flag Process Sketch:

(I didn't mean to make the creepy headless Lincoln, of course.) I liked the side-view of the monument best, but it just wasn't what I wanted in the end. So, I took another less realistic approach, using his likeness and signature as the main elements and giving it all a civil-war worn effect. I'm pretty happy with how this one turned out.

The New Illinois State Flag:

I think this is a good addition to the flag redesigns we've tackled so far. I'll whip up Kentucky's as an update below, as soon as I have it, even though it's not in alphabetical order. Check back for that soon. Thanks for reading, friends.

Sunday
Dec162012

384. State Flag Revisions: Idaho

My favorite story about Idaho goes all the way back to its territory days and beyond. A prominent lobbyist for the mining industry, George Willing, named the area after a Native American phrase that meant: Gem of the Mountains, E Dah Hoe. That name stuck long enough for two successful gold mines to be similarly named (The Idaho Mines,) as well as as steamship. Soon, it was the name of the official territory signed to the U.S. in1863 by then President Lincoln. The only problem was that Idaho was actually a made up word. It didn't exist in any Native American tongue, but by the time the US Senate found out, it had already taken hold. Let's all doff our caps to Mr. Willing for his marketing prowess. I bet he was a heck of a lobbyist.

Idaho's history—like many states—is fraught with battles that pushed out (and fenced in) native tribes. This was done in order to secure settlers' safety which was required before any territory became a state. The flag's history starts with the official Idaho Territory Seal found below. This seal was used between 1866-1869, and was designed by Silas D. Cochran. Fun little fact, the Idaho territory at one point contained all of present day Idaho, Montana and about 95% of Wyoming. (See below.)

Idaho Territory Seal of 1863-1866:

Early Idaho Territory Map:

Apparently this seal was rather controversial and not liked much by Governor Caleb Lyon. So what did he do? He redesigned it himself. "Everyone is a designer these days," mumbled professional designers everywhere. The biggest difference is the deletion of the eagle for the elk. It should be noted that his design was also redesigned several times due to widespread dissatisfaction with it in government circles. Flags and seal history is also fraught with clients who play designer with pretty bad results, but ole' Caleb's design isn't half-bad as far as these things go.

Idaho Territory Seal of 1866-1890:

 

With statehood came the need for an official seal. The newest state set up a committee which offered the public a handsome sum of $100 for the best design. Entries came from all over the nation, but it was the submission by an E. E. Green that ended up winning the contest. His design featured two figures, one a woman sybolizing justice and a man symbolizing the main industry at the time, mining. The rest of the seal is busy with all sorts of agricultural and natural elements wrapped up in a circle featuring the words, The Great Seal of the State of Idaho. Once the design was selected it was discovered that the winning artist was a woman, Emma Edwards Green, a local artist and art instructor who used only her initials when sending her design, in order to prevent the male-only legislature from unfairly rejecting her work. Smart. It was approved by the state legislature on March 5, 1891. It is the only state seal designed by a woman. The only original we can find is this small painting below.

Idaho State Seal 1891 - Emma Edwards Green:


The state wouldn't have an official flag design for another 16 years, and when it was adopted they simply took an infantry flag (just the seal on a field of blue), added a State of Idaho scoll to the bottom and then called it a day. This flag design originated in 1907 and was adopted in 1927. So, Idaho is one of many states whose flags features a state seal on a blue field. One of too many.

Fast forward fifty years later and someone in the state legislature decided that the state seal needed to be updated to better reflect Idaho's industries and natural beauty. Here's the real travesty, they didn't hire a female artist to do it, they hired a guy named Paul B. Evans. It's not that Evans did a bad job, it's just that it would have been more respectful the original to keep the state seal the only one truly designed by a woman. His painting is below for which he was paid $1,000.

Idaho Revised Seal of 1957:
The Current Idaho State Flag:

The current state flag, like the other states that feature seals, don't usually come with the painting but a rather poor representation of the seal, which makes the resulting designs even uglier. There may be no better example of this than Idaho. Sometimes the flag has a gold fringe on three sides per the earlier 1907 standard. From what I can tell, the flag is always supposed to have a 2.5" gold fringe on three of its sides, but that is often left off on the flags you can buy. Again, state flag standards run loose with the details. No official blue is selected, there is no official gold color chosen, no official rendered seal (lots of variation here), and no official block lettering. (This still blows my mind.) There are even disputes over the dimensions, though the official law states a fly (width) of 66 inches and a hoist (height) of 52 inches, 33:26. On our project we don't allow fringe, and don't allow weird shapes, as consistency across states is key, the other elements shoud be decided upon. Are you listening Idaho legislature? 
The Idaho Flag Most Often Seen:
 
So that pretty much takes us up to modern day. Not a lot to work with in terms of story. And Idaho despite its natural beauty doesn't really have a strong identifiable personality or a set of symbols we could start with. Guaranteed, if you ask someone about Idaho, you'll hear something about a certain spud. Outside of that most people would draw a blank. I doubt many could conjur up its capital city name. (Boise.)

And we all know the best marketing related to Idaho:

Of course Idaho sits right next to Oregon and was an important (and dangerous) part of the Oregon trail, but it's hard to design an Idaho flag around something named after another state. I did a little research and found a lot of info about Fort Boise and was hoping it might lead to something interesting, but it did not, outside of the fact that it was actually three forts, each replacing the one before it. One cool fact that I stumbled on was that Idaho was the last of the 50 states explored by people of European descent. Not helpful for my purposes, but cool nonetheless. Gold played a huge role in the state's settlement, with several major finds throughout the 1800's. (One could easily design around this, except it doesn't exactly scream Idaho.)

Fort Boise / Hudson's Bay Company Marker:
One thing I discovered that was truly a surprise to me, is the number of fact surrounding rivers within the state. Consider this:
  1. Idaho's Salmon River is the longest free-flowing river that heads and flows within a single state.
  2. Idaho is the number one producer of Trout (and yes, Potatoes.)
  3. Shoshone Falls (212 feet) drops 52 feet further than Niagara Falls. AND
  4. Idaho has 3,100 miles of rivers - more than any other state.
So, I'm thinking if Minnesota can build a brand around their lakes, then surely Idaho can do the same with their rivers. That focus alone would touch on tourism, agriculture, energy, and conservation all at once. The trick now is to design around the rivers, which isn't an easy element to capture graphically. The cool thing is that the river has always been a prominent element in the state seal (and therfore flag) throughout Idaho's history. The other element that has always been an anchor in past designs is that of the Elk. Basically, my design is an attempt to combine the rivers and the elk, in a color palette that works for the state, something connected to the earth. Antlers as endless rivers. I think this will work well.

The New Idaho State Flag:


 
Thursday
Oct252012

386. Ad of the Week. Rainforest Alliance.

I do appreciate a little honesty in my advertising and was just talking to the team here at Moses about how courageous it is when our clients opt for more honesty in their communication. I truly believe that a little transparency, awareness and a connection to what is going on in a person's mind (heart?) and the world at large always makes for more compelling and effective work.

The Rainforest Alliance has made that connection in their latest short-film / long-ad called Follow the Frog. They recognize that a lot of us are good people but feel powerless to help some of the causes we believe in, and have a lot of guilt because of it. The spot uses that truth, entertains and then gives us something small we all can do to further their cause: promoting sustainable forestry and conservation.

The creative contains a few similarities to the Dish Network's recent campaign (below) but is done better, more honestly, and with more purpose behind it. I probably would have cut a good 30 seconds out of the middle, but otherwise it's a pretty nice PSA that's worth sharing.

Rainforest Alliance Follow The Frog:


The great thing about the creatives is that it gives us an easy, doable solution to a big problem. The storytelling is good, the production quality professional, and I definitely appreciate that they didn't create the work in a vacuum. It answers the current mindset of a lot of people. Well done.

(Boing Boing lists the credits as written and directed by Max Joseph; and produced by Aaron Weber from Wander.)

Dish Networks Recent Spot as Reference:

Sunday
Oct212012

385. The New C7 Corvette Identity

About once every decade—give or take a few years—Chevrolet releases a drastically redesigned Corvette. The seventh such redesign, called the C7, will be unveiled on January 13th of next year at the Detroit Autoshow. Chevrolet has yet to release any decent teaser shots beyond the razzle-dazzle camouflaged tester cars, but they did release a newly redesigned Corvette crossed flag identity over the weekend.

If you know anything about Corvettes, they are considered the equal of some of the best European sports cars at a fraction of the price. One aspect of the cars that is decidedly not up to the comparison, is the interior. If you listen to any auto industry insiders they'll tell you that is going to be corrected on the new 'Vette along with a decidedly more angular and aerodynamic exterior. The new identity is said to reflect that design aesthetic. Perhaps, portend is a better word.

The New Corvette Identity Introduction:

The Disguised 2014 Chevrolet Corvette:

Image rights owned by those on the watermarkHere's a little history behind the Corvette mark from Corvette Auction Center. "The original Corvette logo (Figure 1) was designed by Robert Bartholomew, an interior designer at Chevrolet in 1953. This emblem was destined to appear on the 1953 Corvette prototype which was introduced to the public for the first time at New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel in January of 1953. It had crossing staffs with the checkered flag on the right hand side, and the American flag on the left hand side. However, four days before the Corvette was to go on display at the show, Chevrolet management decided that it should be redesigned. The problem with the proposed emblem was that it included the American flag which is illegal to use on a commercial product. Right before the show, redesigned emblems were attached to the front hood and steering wheel of the Corvette. The new emblem contained the checkered flag on the right side as well as the white racing flag, red Chevrolet bow-tie symbol and a fleur-de-lis."

The Short-Lived 1953 American Flag Corvette Logo:

First things first, I did not know that it was illegal to use the American flag on a commercial product. I don't know if this is still true, however I do wish it was illegal to use the American flag on advertising, especially during Labor, Memorial, Fourth of July, Christmas... you get the idea.

Overall, the Corvette emblem has always been a rather handsome mark, or at least easily identifiable among its peers. But one has to wonder where the use of the fleur-de-lis came from on, given the vehicle's American icon status. Turns out the designers were looking to honor their namesake, the Louis Chevrolet family, with the sports car's identity. They came up empty after a long search and decided on the French symbol for peace and purity as a last resort. Purity seems right for a car meant to handle well going fast.

1953 Corvette Identity:

1962 Corvette identity:

Gone are the words and the inset background, now the flags are the key forms.

1972 Corvette Identity:

At this point the circle is dropped while the flags are given more movement. I'm not sure I think the angle of the flags is ideal, but the result is now minimized to the essential parts still present in the modern design.

1984 Corvette Identity:

These are not the best years for the sports car. Inside and out these years produce some of my least favorite models and their badges are designed to match. Look at that thing. Kinda miserable don't you think? This was the first year the checkered flag lived on the left-hand side, I wish I knew the rationale for this change.

1997 Corvette identity:

Now here's when things started looking up. The flags are brought back as well as the circle from years past. Even though we see a lot of faux gloss and dimension, the identity feels right again. The cars themselves take a leap forward with this model.

2005 Corvette Logo:

This is perhaps the first generation of the modern Corvette that could compete on a world-class level (save the cheap interior, but Chevy had to save some money somewhere to sell them at the price level they wanted.) The crossed flags evolved into a V badge, in homage to what the cars are most often called. These are Vettes plain and simple. This doesn't feel too forced and I like the result—but I would expect the Chevrolet bow tie and fleur-de-lis to be better executed at this point. I see a stalk of corn.

2014 Corvette Identity:

Now, this is what was introduced over the weekend. We see a more angled V to match the new car's creases. The Chevy bow tie takes more prominence over the French symbol on the right. It appears to me that they have embraced the V even more on this version to good effect. (There was an early version of this type of setup all the way back in 1963 on the Corvette Stingray. See below for that reference.) The troubling thing is the amount of shine, gradient and fake metallic lighting, but it's hard to judge these automotive looks in a printed or digital medium. They need to be seen on the actual car, where they really do shine and reflect the light. How it sits on the hood and matches (or not) the design cues of the car is more important than anything and it will be a few months before we can judge that. For now, it appears as a more confident upgrade. I hope the same can be said for the new ride. There is a website where you can follow along as Chevy releases more and more of the design (car and identity), one13thirteen, named after the release date.

1963 Original V Identity as seen on a Stringray: (Note the flipped flags)

Chevy's Press Release Video:

For the curious, this is what Trinity Animations thinks the new Corvette will look like via Jalopnik.



Tuesday
Sep182012

383. Ad of the Week: The Shuttle Shuttle.

Well, it's been awhile since I've posted regularly here. Chalk that up to taking a new CD job and having very little spare time to um, spare. I have been using social media to share all the things that are of interest pretty much every day, so be sure to find me at the links at the bottom. (And Fifty Flags fans, Hawaii is just around the corner. We'll step up the regularity of that project too.) Anyway, I thought this was a good time to bring back the Ad of the Week.

As we all know, NASA has been winding down the Space Shuttle program over the past year, going so far as to sell 3 of the 4 active shuttles to various museums. Endeavour, the last of the shuttles to be sold, will be going to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Part 1 of the journey will require being strapped on top of a 747 from Florida to LAX. Part 2 is infinitely more tricky. The shuttle will be transported on a trailer, 12 miles through suburban LA to the museum. The LA Times likens the trip to moving a five-story apartment building on a truck bed through the city.

According to NPR, taking the shuttle apart was never an option. Apparently, NASA was pretty good at building these things but they never factored in ease of disassembly into their designs. So, the city is raising power lines, lifting light poles, cutting down tress (they promise to plant two for every one cut down), and figuring out which streets can bear the heavy 170,000 pound space beast. At some key points along the way, the engineers have as little as six inches of clearance to squeeze into.

All pretty cool stuff, but why is this our ad of the week? And why might it be the Ad of the Year? Most likely you have seen the pickup truck spots where Dodge, Ford, Chevy and Toyota pull all sorts of heavy contraptions under all sorts of odd circumstances to stake their claim as having the most capable of towing packages. In short the most muscle for the most manly of truck-driving men. This unique event provides perhaps the most graphic and visually extreme demonstration of towing one could possibly imagine and one of the truck manufacturers are going to benefit from it. That OEM is Toyota, and their Tundra model (stock no less) will be towing the shuttle to its final resting place. 

The Tundra Endeavour:

So how did this come to be? How did Toyota pull this off? It appears that Toyota had a working relationship with the Science Center already. According to the press release, "Participation in the transportation of the shuttle is part of an ongoing partnership between TMS and the Science Center in an effort to provide support and awareness of the space program and continuing education of the public through exhibits and programs. Toyota currently has a Tundra truck on display in a Science Center exhibit demonstrating the physics of leverage. The tow Tundra will replace the existing Tundra and will be on display after the Endeavour exhibit opens on October 30, 2012."  The press release states the 'event' was a collaboration with the Science Center, Toyota and agency Saatchi & Saatchi LA, but whoever game up with the idea is a genius. An opportunistic, marketing genius. I doff my cap in their general direction.

The Challenge Intro Video:

Toyota has set up a site where visitors can follow the Shuttle's journey as of yesterday, though most of the content has yet to be released. One of the better visuals that has been released so far (and would make excellent old school ads) are the schematics of the truck pulling the Shuttle. They don't need a headline or more body copy or anything. They're perfect (at least until we have real images of this whole thing going down. Those promise to be even more ridiculous.)

Yep. A Toyota pulling a Space Shuttle:


If you're kind of a nerd and like me are wondering if you can find the directions the Shuttle will be taking through the LA neighborhoods, well, you can Google it. I'd recommend doing the street map view for a better reality check.

Looks Like a Tight Fit:

The Shuttle Shuttle is a once in a lifetime event and Toyota is taking advantage of it in a way that isn't terribly obvious (ie: it doesn't commercialize the experience too much). They could single-handedly put an end to an entire genre of television truck demos. If Chevy or Ford shows an ad of their trucks pulling something heavy, all Toyota has to do is point to this. "We just pulled The Shuttle through Los Angeles." Way, way more dramatic and convincing than anything the other manufacturers could tow behind their rigs. Sure, there is a special setup and trailer that is being pulled which makes the whole thing feasible, but that's not something the public will focus on. All they will see is a Toyota pulling a Space Shuttle. And for a brand, you couldn't make this up. (Full disclosure: I'm still a Silverado guy myself.)

I can't wait to see this event unfold over the two days it will take, October 12-13. Congrats to the whole team involved.