The Problem with So Many Flags

It's a standing joke among vexillologists — well, a joke for the ones in other countries; it's a source of shame for us Americans — that by and large, US state flag designs really blow ... and I'm not talking about in the wind, either.

Here are 25 US state flags (24 current and one former, the Georgia flag in the center of the top row having already mercifully been replaced). Keeping in mind that it's a principle of good flag design that flags should be readily distinguishable even from a distance, how many of them can you identify (I assembled the "quilt" below using images from FOTWer Edward Mooney's MiniFlags site)?

Bad flags. Baaaaaaaaaad flags!

Even when you consider how many of these states have helpfully included their names on the flag, there's not really very much to distinguish them, is there?

Contrast those flags with the 10 best flags in North America, according to recent surveys, both of vexillologists and of the general public, conducted by the North American Vexillological Association (again featuring images I assembled from Ed's MiniFlags page).

Good flags. Aaaah.

Much more easily distinguished and memorable, aren't they?

This is why I have come up with proposals for some new flags:

You can also check out my designs for my personal flag and an electoral protest flag.