You know what the American flag looks like, and the Iowa flag is labeled, so you can’t miss it, but does your city have a flag? Cedar Rapids is going through the process of designing a new city flag and there’s a grassroots movement afoot to bring back the Des Moines Flag. But what makes for a good flag design? In this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with several guests about not only good flag design but also what these flags mean to these cities.
"Simplicity, meaningful symbolism, two to three colors, no lettering or seals, and distinctiveness," said Ted Kaye, author of Good Flag, Bad Flag: How to Design a Great Flag. While people may never notice their city's flag, Kaye argues that it's important for a city's identity and can help build a sense of community. "Seals belong to the government but flags belong to the people," said Kaye.
The city of Cedar Rapids is going through the process of designing a new city flag. The original Cedar Rapids flag gained more attention than ever after the release of a 2015 TED Talk from Roman Mars (video below). According to a survey conducted by the North American Vexillological Association, the Cedar Rapids flag ranked as one of the worst city flags in the United States.
However, few people know the Cedar Rapids flag origin story or anything about the artist since they designed it. In 1962, seventeen-year-old Fred Easker was selected by his high school art teacher to design the Cedar Rapids flag and ended up winning the contest. This recognition helped give Easker the confidence to continue persuing art and he has since become a successful professional artist and landscape painter. Many of Easker's paintings are featured in federal buildings as well as in three United States embassies, among others.
The original city of Des Moines flag meets many of the good flag design qualifications noted by Kaye. However, the flag is no longer the official flag of Des Moines. As a means to help bring more awareness to the original Des Moines flag, the husband and wife duo of Emily and Mason Kessinger founded Flag of Des Moines and have since put on several community events.
· Ted Kaye, author of Good Flag, Bad Flag: How to Design a Great Flag.
· Fred Easker, Professional Artist
· Maria Johnson, Communication Division Manager for the City of Cedar Rapids
· Emily and Mason Kessinger, Founders of Flag of Des Moines.