Vermillion needs a flag for a banner year

Vermillion needs a flag for a banner year By: David Lias
Plain Talk Plans are being made at this moment for the upcoming celebration of Vermillionâ�?�?s sesquicentennial in 2009. But thereâ�?�?s one thing the community lacks that would greatly add to the festivities: a flag. For that reason, the Vermillion City Council decided last January to sponsor a flag design contest in the community. The deadline for the submitting entries is fast approaching. Ideally, citizens should submit their flag designs by the end of July so that sometime in August, judges can make their final selection. Alderman Kent Osborne is hoping Vermillion residents will come through and submit plenty of flag designs to help the city celebrate its banner year. While a flag certainly will play a key role in Vermillionâ�?�?s sesquicentennial, it shouldnâ�?�?t necessarily be designed with just that event in mind. Vermillion has never had a flag. The design contest is a means for citizens to design a pennant for Vermillion that can be used for any occasion. Flag entries will be scored 25 percent for simplicity, 25 percent for distinctness (how does it look from a distance?) 25 percent for use of color and 25 percent for use of symbols. The following tips for would-be flag designers are offered on the city of Vermillionâ�?�?s Web page: Simplicity â�?�? The most important attribute of a good flag, bar none. As contrasted with clutter, complexity, busyness â�?�? simplicity is the sine qua non quality. It is intimately involved in the other key criteria of color, symbolism, and distinctness. Thus, simplicity in the use of colors and symbols reflects in the simplicity of the overall design. Likewise, an un-simple, cluttered design predictably will lack distinctness. Good flag design is simple design. Can a flag be too simple? With the possible exception of Libya, no. Remember that clutter cloys and simplicity sways. Remember also this practical maxim: â�?�?If an average school child can draw it from memory, it is a simple design.â�? For example, Japan and Canada are simple designs, superbly effective; Zimbabwe and Grenada are considerably less so. Color â�?�? The basic colors used in flags are red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, dark blue, black, and white. Other colors are possible in principle but their use is chancy and their cost considerable (think of the extra cost as having to come out of your own pocket). Furthermore: Use white and yellow to separate the other colors â�?�? if you donâ�?�?t youâ�?�?ll end up with Estonia instead of Botswana (note how white fimbriation separates blue from black in Botswana), youâ�?�?ll get poorly designed Guam rather than striking Wyoming, Armenia instead of Spain, Bangladesh in place of Japan, Haiti instead of Yugoslavia; the stripes of Laos rather than those of Costa Rica. Even such devil-in-the-details as the coat-of-arms in Slovenia versus Slovakia. A couple of incidentals about colors: Gold is not a flag color, Morocco and Egypt notwithstanding. Shun placing yellow next to white. If you disbelieve that, check Cyprus, Afghanistan, Saba, Tajikistan, Vatican City. If you still disbelieve, please donâ�?�?t do it anyway. Hereâ�?�?s an acid test for the effectiveness of color schemes. Make a black-and-white photocopy of a flag design â�?�? Haitiâ�?�?s blue-on-red turns out black and Estonia registers two-thirds black, one-third white; Bangladesh is black; Laos is a white circle on black background; Colombia, Czechoslovakia, Germany, for all their appeal in color, lose their identity in black-and-white versions. More bad news: you practically canâ�?�?t tell France from Italy from Peru from Guatemala â�?¦ or Netherlands from Transkei from Austria from Sierra Leone from Yemen, and so on. Now the good news: Canada, Greece, United States, Switzerland, United Kingdom â�?�? all are still immediately identifiable in black-and-white, no hesitation, no mistake possible. Stay with two to three colors, maximum, white counting as a color. Look at Canada, Japan, China, Switzerland, Greece, Israel, Denmark, Greenland â�?�? all have memorable, in some cases outstanding, flags employing just two colors. Add one more color and you have the brilliantly original Stars and Stripes, the British Union Jack that influenced the designs of many countries; Cuba, Panama, France, among several others, also have classic three-color flags. Always keep in mind: the flag will be reproduced on different surfaces (nylon, paper, cotton, metal, plastic) and in different sizes (outdoor flags, table flags; on newspapers, T-shirts, pins, shopping bags, balloons), hence colors should be strong, vivid and unaffected by small variations in dyes and inks. If you should ever be tempted to add a fourth color, reconsider. Above all, be pragmatic. Extra colors will increase by thousands of dollars the cost of manufacturing flags and flag souvenirs. Symbolism â�?�? Letâ�?�?s start with what good flag symbols are not. By David Lias Plain Talk Plans are being made at this moment for the upcoming celebration of Vermillionâ�?�?s sesquicentennial in 2009. But thereâ�?�?s one thing the community lacks that would greatly add to the festivities: a flag. For that reason, the Vermillion City Council decided last January to sponsor a flag design contest in the community. The deadline for the submitting entries is fast approaching. Ideally, citizens should submit their flag designs by the end of July so that sometime in August, judges can make their final selection. Alderman Kent Osborne is hoping Vermillion residents will come through and submit plenty of flag designs to help the city celebrate its banner year. While a flag certainly will play a key role in Vermillionâ�?�?s sesquicentennial, it shouldnâ�?�?t necessarily be designed with just that event in mind. Vermillion has never had a flag. The design contest is a means for citizens to design a pennant for Vermillion that can be used for any occasion. Flag entries will be scored 25 percent for simplicity, 25 percent for distinctness (how does it look from a distance?) 25 percent for use of color and 25 percent for use of symbols. The following tips for would-be flag designers are offered on the city of Vermillionâ�?�?s Web page: Simplicity â�?�? The most important attribute of a good flag, bar none. As contrasted with clutter, complexity, busyness â�?�? simplicity is the sine qua non quality. It is intimately involved in the other key criteria of color, symbolism, and distinctness. Thus, simplicity in the use of colors and symbols reflects in the simplicity of the overall design. Likewise, an un-simple, cluttered design predictably will lack distinctness. Good flag design is simple design. Can a flag be too simple? With the possible exception of Libya, no. Remember that clutter cloys and simplicity sways. Remember also this practical maxim: â�?�?If an average school child can draw it from memory, it is a simple design.â�? For example, Japan and Canada are simple designs, superbly effective; Zimbabwe and Grenada are considerably less so. Color â�?�? The basic colors used in flags are red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, dark blue, black, and white. Other colors are possible in principle but their use is chancy and their cost considerable (think of the extra cost as having to come out of your own pocket). Furthermore: Use white and yellow to separate the other colors â�?�? if you donâ�?�?t youâ�?�?ll end up with Estonia instead of Botswana (note how white fimbriation separates blue from black in Botswana), youâ�?�?ll get poorly designed Guam rather than striking Wyoming, Armenia instead of Spain, Bangladesh in place of Japan, Haiti instead of Yugoslavia; the stripes of Laos rather than those of Costa Rica. Even such devil-in-the-details as the coat-of-arms in Slovenia versus Slovakia. A couple of incidentals about colors: Gold is not a flag color, Morocco and Egypt notwithstanding. Shun placing yellow next to white. If you disbelieve that, check Cyprus, Afghanistan, Saba, Tajikistan, Vatican City. If you still disbelieve, please donâ�?�?t do it anyway. Hereâ�?�?s an acid test for the effectiveness of color schemes. Make a black-and-white photocopy of a flag design â�?�? Haitiâ�?�?s blue-on-red turns out black and Estonia registers two-thirds black, one-third white; Bangladesh is black; Laos is a white circle on black background; Colombia, Czechoslovakia, Germany, for all their appeal in color, lose their identity in black-and-white versions. More bad news: you practically canâ�?�?t tell France from Italy from Peru from Guatemala â�?¦ or Netherlands from Transkei from Austria from Sierra Leone from Yemen, and so on. Now the good news: Canada, Greece, United States, Switzerland, United Kingdom â�?�? all are still immediately identifiable in black-and-white, no hesitation, no mistake possible. Stay with two to three colors, maximum, white counting as a color. Look at Canada, Japan, China, Switzerland, Greece, Israel, Denmark, Greenland â�?�? all have memorable, in some cases outstanding, flags employing just two colors. Add one more color and you have the brilliantly original Stars and Stripes, the British Union Jack that influenced the designs of many countries; Cuba, Panama, France, among several others, also have classic three-color flags. Always keep in mind: the flag will be reproduced on different surfaces (nylon, paper, cotton, metal, plastic) and in different sizes (outdoor flags, table flags; on newspapers, T-shirts, pins, shopping bags, balloons), hence colors should be strong, vivid and unaffected by small variations in dyes and inks. If you should ever be tempted to add a fourth color, reconsider. Above all, be pragmatic. Extra colors will increase by thousands of dollars the cost of manufacturing flags and flag souvenirs. Symbolism â�?�? Letâ�?�?s start with what good flag symbols are not. Letters, words, and numbers are not good symbols as flag-design currency. Theyâ�?�?re perfect for road signs, books, newspapers, advertisements. Not for flags, though. Writing on flags, like finger-painting on books, must be discouraged at an early age. There are both practical and theoretical reasons for this. From a practical view, a flag is seen from the front as well as the reverse, and the wind blows it around in unpredictable ways. As a result, what reads correctly when viewed from the front and flying left-to-right, reads in reverse if the wind blows it so that you are viewing the banner from behind. Gently put, words are a cop-out, an admission of failure. Failure of respect, of interest, and of imagination, failure to define a meaningful symbol in a expressive way. Words on flags are the implicit confession, â�?�?We canâ�?�?t think of any good symbols for our community and itâ�?�?s not worth our bother to try.â�? Maps are not good flag symbols either. Maps are drawings of parts of the earthâ�?�?s surface. They belong on walls, in the glove compartment of your car, within a modern argonautâ�?�?s reach â�?�? just not on flags. State maps may outline a road sign â�?�? leave them there. On flags, maps can look as strange as words do when viewed the wrong way. Photographic representations also are not suitable as flag symbols. Flag symbols are simplified, often stylized, representations of just about anything â�?�? mineral, animal, vegetable â�?¦ and then some. Flag-design experts have long and patiently explained that first-rate flag symbols are: â�?¢ Suggestive of the history, life, and aspirations of the community they represent. â�?¢ Visually pleasing and graphically competent. â�?¢ Immediately communicative. â�?¢ Respectful of the rules of simplicity, color, and distinctness.

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