Recently I co-hosted a workshop for my Media Communication students to help generate ideas for the City of Orlando's Flag Design Contest.

The workshop consisted of three main parts:

  1. Research
  2. Design
  3. Sketching

First, students watched Roman Mar's popular TED Talk: Why City Flags May Be The Worst-Designed Thing You've Never Noticed. This short, humorous video highlighted the North American Vexillological Association's 5 Basic Principles of Flag Design.

Vexillology is the study of flags.

Did you know that? Neither did I!

The North American Vexillological Association urges the following points:

  1. Keep it simple.
  2. Use meaningful symbolism.
  3. Use 2-3 basic colors.
  4. No lettering or seals.
  5. Be distinctive or be related.

After watching the video, students collaboratively brainstormed what iconic symbols, shapes, and colors best represent the city's past and where we're headed as a community.

After narrowing in on their individual design concepts, students fired up Adobe Illustrator to digitally mock-up their ideas. Interestingly, official contest entries were required to be hand-sketched and submitted on a 3x5 index card. So from Illustrator, students reverse engineered their designs into this lo-fi format.

As an educator, I was pleased to see that official contest rules also required a short descriptive explanation of each design. I often tell my students that anyone can acquire technical skill, but that it will be their ability to communicate their intent and execute their ideas that will set them apart in the industry.

City officials received more than 950 submissions from around Orlando and chose 10 designs to be voted on by the community.


My Official Submission

The main focal point of my design is an orange circle. This shape is intended to represent many iconic symbols within the Orlando community: citrus, sports, amusement parks, bodies of water, unity, and progress. The purple triangles show converging directionality to represent movement, diversity, and inclusion, as well as the tourism and hospitality industries that make Orlando an international travel destination.