Recently, Salt Lake City Council gave the city flag a major upgrade. The new design consists of a simple, blue-and-white bicolor, with a sego lily in the canton. After following the flag redesign contest for the past several months, to which I even contributed my own submission, I could not be more pleased with the end result.
Or perhaps I could be. The design Salt Lake adopted is not one of the 10 finalists in the contest, but a composite of two of them. Both original designs make creative, bold uses of symbolism: one centers the sego lily on three blue triangles, and the other features a stylized black honeybee over golden honeycomb. The hybrid design, while pretty, strikes me as much more safe. What’s more, I feel that tampering with either design breaches the artistic integrity of both. Had my own design ended up among the finalists, I would have preferred it lose than be partially morphed into another design.
That said, I am overall content with Salt Lake City’s new flag. Its designers, Arianna Meinking and Ella Kennedy-Yoon, should feel immensely proud. Still, I would rather have seen either one of their designs chosen, in its original, unmodified form.
I would also caution other cities, which may be planning similar redesign contests of their own, against this sort of artistic compromise. When committees and government officials take liberties on the artwork of their citizens, the strength of that artwork, and of its symbolism, diminishes. Citizen redesign contests should commit to entrusting redesigns to the citizens, and not simply the illusion of citizen choice.
Samuel Thomas, Salt Lake City