Chelsea Clinton recently tweeted that she wished the Arkansas flag didn't include a star that represents the Confederacy.
As a graphic designer living in Chelsea's home state, I accepted her tweet as a challenge to redesign the flag.
I'd like to start by discussing the history of the current design, pictured below.
The first Arkansas flag was created by school teacher Willie Kavanaugh Hocker in 1912. Her design was among more than 60 submitted to a contest organized by the secretary of state and the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).
Over the years, a few changes have been made. For example, the Confederate star that Chelsea referenced in her tweet was added to the "diamond" in 1923.
(The three original stars beneath the word "Arkansas" symbolize the nations that have ruled over the territory: Spain, France, and the United States.)
There are two compelling reasons why the Arkansas flag should be updated.
It doesn't represent all Arkansans. The flag's Confederate imagery is sometimes considered a nod to Southern heritage, but many people see it as an enduring symbol of slavery and oppression.The overall design is too cluttered. The rule of thumb is that a child should be able to draw a flag from memory. The North American Vexillological Association (NAVA) ranked Arkansas' design 45th out of 72 North American flags.
Below is my redesigned Arkansas flag that addresses these key points.
Featuring Hocker's original three stars, my design is in some ways a return to tradition. It also includes the flag's official colors–white, Old Glory Red, and Old Glory Blue.
The new symbolism in the flag represents our state's natural beauty, which is something every Arkansan can rally behind. The top of the "A" forms a mountain. The design also includes an updated diamond for the Crater of Diamonds State Park, one of the country's only diamond mines.
The result is a flag that reflects the Natural State's culture, touches on its past, and embraces its bright future.
My goal for this design is to start a public conversation around the state flag and how it might be improved.
Ideally, Arkansas could launch a contest similar to the one held in 1912 so that we might unveil a new flag by 2023. (This date marks a century since the Confederate star was added to the flag.)
I welcome constructive feedback regarding my design. Feel free to use the form below to share your thoughts, and I will try to follow up shortly.
Website and design by Jordan King.
Arkansas State Capitol Building photo by Stuart Seeger. CC