New Mexico and Texas are waving their flags high.
The dark red Zia sun of New Mexico and the bright lone star of Texas placed No. 1 and No. 2 in an online survey rating the designs of 72 state,territorial and provincial flags from Canada and the United States.
“These flags demonstrated that they are good nonverbal forms of communication to the public,” says David Martucci,president of the North American Vexillological Association,which conducted the survey. “If you can make out something that’s recognizable from 60 to 80 feet away,be simple,inexpensive to make and have a unifying symbol,then you have a good flag.”
More than 400 of the association’s members and Web users picked flags based on appearance without adding political bias,Martucci said.
“We wanted to get information about how the public reacts to flags by what they see rather than by the politics of the state or province,” he said.
Others in the top 10 included,in order,those from Quebec,Maryland,Alaska,Arizona,Puerto Rico,District of Columbia,Marshall Islands and South Carolina. The association’s Web master,Richard Gideon,said the similarities among the flags show clear patterns of what people look for in a flag.
“We pretty much had our ideas confirmed that people want a simple flag that has few colors,makes a statement,has no lettering or seals in it and isn’t cluttered with minute details,” Gideon said. “There’s also a geometric design in the better ones that draws a person’s eye to that one symbol or shape.”
The design combination of yellow field and symbol for the ancient sun god has been the New Mexico flag since 1925. It replaced the original,more complex design consisting of a blue field with a miniature U.S. flag in the upper left corner,the state’s seal in the lower right corner and the words “New Mexico” embroidered diagonally across the field.
Gideon said the change distinguished New Mexico. “The last thing a flag designer wants to do is put lettering,seals,shields or intricate fillings on a flag because no one is going to remember it.”
The Texas flag has long been a memorable one,Gideon said. It was created in 1887 as the official banner of the Republic of Texas,replacing the republic flag of blue and red with a single yellow star,Gideon said.
“The simplicity and the statement that comes from the Lone Star are the reasons it has remained with Texas for such a long time,” he said.
While handing out kudos for the top 10,the association of vexillologists _ those who study flags _ also named the 10 worst _ including many states that use seals. The poorest 10 designs descended from New Hampshire,followed by Idaho,Wisconsin,Kentucky,Minnesota,South Dakota,Kansas,Montana and Nebraska,with Georgia coming in last.