A few months ago, Amina and I were watching a series of Ted talks on design and psychology. We came across Roman Mars’ talk on the horrible design of flags. Most notably was the city of Milwaukee:

There are flags on that flag…what the hell!?

Through learning about vexillology (the study of flags), Amina and I were inspired to create a flag for our relationship and the house. The development started with some thinking about us as individuals as well as a couple.

Words that came out included:

  • Confidence
  • Gabe
  • Maddie
  • Amina
  • Energy
  • Passion
  • Voltage
  • Grounded
  • Aspirational
  • Heart
  • Direction
  • Intent

I started with a sketch of an idea using some of the basic rules as Mr. Mars had stated them. This includes using a postage stamp as a reference to how your design would read to a viewer from far away. If you hold a stamp at arms length, you can pretend it is a flag and get a good sense of what details will be visible from 2000′ away.

I sketched up the following on my iPad and held it across the room to see how it worked.



This was close, but Amina had a better idea:


We combined the two as would be appropriate in a “relationship flag”:


Now we were getting somewhere. But we should refine this a little bit more in illustrator which led to a little more extensive exploration:


Once we had all of these options in front of us, it was time to go with a little bit of gut, logic, and following the postage stamp rule plus the simplicity, we wound up with this:


Now let’s go back to the meaning, colors and iconography. The flag breaks into several overlapping grids:



The reason we did this was that it represents the distinct sense of order and balance that we care about in our lives as individuals and as partners. Secondly is the dynamic of dimensionality.


By having the lines all converge at a central point on the right side, this indicates a sense of movement, direction and forwardness that we use to represent our forward movement in life. As we read left to right, this rightward direction was intentionally chosen to indicate that future state. Next up is the color choices and what they mean:


The blue is meant for sky. Sky being the aspirational, the upwards momentum (as well as forward), the color of serenity…seriously:

The green represents the earth. Grounded, stable, a place to land. It also means go. In all three colors, forwardness was a critical part of the story for us. We grow together as individuals and as a couple. Finally the red, with it’s energy and movement to the right side of the flag is the wall that we write on. This is our track line that we run hard and fast on. It is momentum, confidence and a place to travel forward upon. The forced dimensionality to the leading edge of the perspective on the right side makes you never quite see the end, just like what we’d like for our time together.

The two white lines that are converging at the right represent us as individuals. We are connected through the spark in the middle. This spark has several meanings:


The first has to do with an illustration that Amina did before we were even dating. This illustration shows my resistance (in electrical terms) to the voltage as I wasn’t quite ready to leap into the relationship with her. Thankfully, my capacitor overloaded. Secondly, and more obvious, is an EKG readout for our mutual hearts beating against the same drum as we move forward. Next, the spark element graphically represents both of our initials as an A and G combined in a cool and techy way. Additionally is the parallel to literal voltage. Our energy with one another as we get things done and encourage each other along. Finally is the metaphor of the assessment of time. We are both extremely introspective people that use our past to grow and learn to help us into the future. The spark line travels backwards and forwards on red and ricochets back and forth as we help each other through our past and into our future.

So there you have it, the story behind our flag. It was exciting to have it mounted up just in time for Flag Day 2016 AND Amina’s Monthly Day of Happiness and we both have been smiling as it dances in the wind.

13415605_10154306177759365_8327937443985713394_oHave a great day folks and may your freak flags fly.








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