What are your thoughts on complexity in flag designs?

There are a lot of varying opinions on how complex flags should be. Some prefer that flags be kept more simple and minimal, and others feel that simple flags come off as bland, corporate, and unflaglike. What do you think?

My take is that complexity on flags can be great given the following:

  • Complexity is used to make a specific a focal point stand out. Flags aren't paintings and shouldn't be littered with complex designs. Instead, the complexity should be focused in the flag's device.
  • Complexity is in shape, not in color. If a flag has 6 different colors in its device, it just ends up feeling cluttered imo.
  • Complex images are unique and symbolic. In general, devices should be symbolic, but imo both it and distinctness is especially important if you're going to draw extra attention to it with a complex design.

One of my favorite flags, the flag of Bhutan, does all of these with its black and white dragon.

Edit: Also want to add that I don't think flags being minimal or following more modern design principles makes them soulless and corporate. Simple designs can look great, and I honestly tend to prefer them. Just because logos tend to use more simplistic designs doesn't mean flags can't either.

@FireTower@lemmy.world avatar

Like with engineering, the fewer components the better. Of course each flag still needs to effectively relay it’s message.

I think Canada has a great example flag. It’s only used two colors, stripes, and one unique shape.

Also something to factor in is how unique is your flag. The Ivory Coast will forever be mistaken for Ireland. Both are simple but added detail could have avoided this.

@GreyShuck@feddit.uk avatar

I think that my criteria would be:

  • Is it distinctive at a casual glance at emoji size?
  • Is it distinctive on a misty horizon?
  • Is it realistic to daub 20 copies of it on to old sheets, cardboard banners and t-shirts in a hurry in a crowded basement somewhere?

If not, then it is not fulfilling the basic requirements of a flag. If it is, then it’s off to a good start and we can start arguing about aesthetics.

ThatOneKirbyMain2568 avatar

Those are definitely important factors, especially distinctiveness at small size and at a distance. There are lots of red, white, and blue tricolors that only differ in some small, complicated symbol, making them difficult to distinguish even up close, much less from afar.

@Nevrome@lemmy.ca avatar

I think judging a flag’s clutteredness depends on the visual feeling rather than the amount of stuff found in it.

For example, the flag of my Canadian Province, New-Brunswick, doesn’t feel cluttered to me as opposed to the flag of the Seychelles. It does fit in your second bullet point though.

I tend to agree with you that simpler designs look great but many complex flags’ designs also do the job.

ThatOneKirbyMain2568 avatar

It's definitely subjective. Case in point, I think the Seychelles' flag is great where as New Brunswick's is quite messy if still decent. The latter is helped by not going overboard on colors, though I think it'd be more cohesive if the ship followed the pattern that the lion and the water followed (single-colored design on single-colored background). The lion is yellow on red and the water is white on blue, but the ship is all over the place with red flags and a white, outlined sail.

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