Redesign 101: The Flag of Michigan

New Flag of Michigan

Proposed Flag of Michigan

Today I’m starting a new series called “Redesign 101”, where I try into improve on the designs of common flags. As a graphics geek, I think that there are a lot of crappy flags out there. About half of US States have plain blue flags with coats of arms on them. These flags are hard to tell apart even for people familiar with them, so I thought I’d redesign them, starting with the state I grew up in. For the flag of Michigan, I draw inspiration from the geography of the state. Michigan is unique in that it consists of two separate landmasses, separated and defined by the Great Lakes. So I started with a Reflex Blue stripe across the middle of the flag, representing the Strait of Mackinac that cuts the state in half, as well as the Great Lakes as a whole.

Current Flag of Michigan

The Current Flag of Michigan

The top and bottom stripes of the flag represent the Upper and Lower Peninsulas, respectively. They also represent the white winters and green summers of the state.

Michigan has a complex coat of arms that includes a deer, a bear, an eagle, a man with a rifle waving while standing on a beach, and two Latin inscriptions. Rather than put the whole coat of arms on the flag, I’m drawing out one element: the deer. Deer are very common in Michigan, so it’s a great symbol to represent the state. And by making the deer yellow, we can include the colors of both the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

So with this flag, Michigan would stand out amongst the fifty states. With fifty state flags to memorize, children all across America probably wouldn’t recognize it, but kids in Michigan would. This flag would be a source of pride in a state that could use a little boost.

Next week: Vermont

Steve Lovelace

Steve Lovelace is a writer and graphic artist. After graduating Michigan State University in 2004, he taught Spanish in Samoa before moving to Dallas, Texas. He blogs regularly at

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18 Responses

  1. Henry Krueger says:

    I rather like your Michigan flag design. Not too keen on the deer… hard for schoolkids to draw. I’d rather see the same sun, as seen in the state seal, coming up over the green stripe. What do you think? I have written to Governor Snyder and my state rep. asking for a bill to create a new state flag. How have you done with it?

  2. Henry Krueger says:

    Bear? Where? That is a moose.

  3. Steve says:

    Our current flag is beautiful, no need to change it. I do like your new design, but have always loved our “Si quæris peninsulam amœnam, circumspice” flag. 🙂

    • Joshua says:

      I bet your completely happy with everything else, like this country, your wealth, your family, and nothing else matters, just as long as you’re happy. Nothing needs to change. Change is good. People don’t like change, but when change happens, people have a “change” in their opinion of change. So lets change the flag. Why not? Lets change. I’m sorry about the whole paragraph on change, and I know it is just a flag, but come on, you have gotta admit our flag looks plain boring. It looks rather ugly to me.

  4. Mit says:

    You went to college in Lansing and you don’t know that those are, respectively and elk and moose on the flag ?! Unforgivable.

  5. Randy says:

    The deer needs some work, perhaps some simplification, and a change in direction so it doesn’t appear to be fleeing, but overall I think it’s a vast improvement over the coat-of-arms flag, which is just a lazy and ugly copy/paste job. I’d love to see this flag flying when I visit Michigan. It’s welcoming.

    I would experiment with the deer size, placement, and direction. Right now, it’s kind of small, and walking on water. Make it 1/3 bigger, and it becomes a foreground item. But, you could also make it just the head …. or even just half the head, really large.

    What’s funny is that (white-tailed) deer are also a symbol of next-door Ontario, in the coat of arms and the legislative arms. If Ontario were to re-design its flag (as it should, because it’s yet-another-red-ensign lost in a sea of red ensigns) there might be a deer on it. Michigan would be wise to get there first.

  6. Johnny Stranger says:

    The fellow who put up this web page has some interesting opinions:

    I also like his Michigan flag idea. I want to make a sticker out of it, put it on my car, and wait for people to ask me what it is, so I can tell them. The flag you put up here is pretty good too, but just about anything is probably better than the current Michigan flag.

    And what he has to say is right on the money. The current Michigan flag clearly fails as a flag. A good flag needs to be something that a primary school student can easily recreate with a few colors from the Crayola eight-pack while looking at it, or that an average adult can easily recreate from memory.

    A flag is a rallying symbol. It’s something that signals troops from a distance on a smoky and chaotic battlefield. It needs to be bold and recognizable. Slapping the state seal on a stock blue background — like too many other U.S. state flags — betrays the notion that our flag has at no time been used for rallying anybody on anything resembling a field of battle.

    Of course, I’m not saying that Michigan needs more martial symbols, I’m saying that a common identity is forged by things like shared triumphs and hardships. Our current flag doesn’t really seem to speak to that, since its ad hoc composition and its similarity to so many other flags makes it seem so throwaway and indifferent-looking. It’s actually kind of embarrassing when you think about it.

    And if you happen to like the state seal, then nobody’s suggesting that it be changed, as there’s nothing wrong with it. Even if we got a new [read: ‘better’] flag, the state seal would obviously still be the state seal. The governor’s flag — which is the same thing as the current state flag, but with a white field — would be unchanged as well. In fact, maybe the current state flag should just become the new governor’s flag.

  7. David says:

    How about the three states I’ve lived in.?
    first: Ill.
    then: Nev.
    brief time in: Ind.
    and finally back in: Nev.

  8. NICO BRODNITZ says:

    dankon, amikejo!

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