Research

Inverse Flag Designs

I love an inverse flag design.

I think it goes back to an old Muay Thai t-shirt design from around 2001. I always felt like I should be better at Muay Thai before sporting the shirt outside of the gym, so I never got it, but I always remembered its wonderfully peculiar use of color….

Designer unknown, Fairtex Muay Thai t-shirt design, circa 2001 (the Clementina Street days).

Designer unknown, Fairtex Muay Thai t-shirt design, circa 2001 (the Clementina Street days).

Black tees are the obvious choice for this audience; yet even with only two colors, the traditional white stripes could have been preserved. Instead, the usually-blue canton (flag-speak for upper quadrant) is white, with the black text knocked out (designer-speak for not-printed).

Flag orthodoxy would decree this manipulation of the US flag a desecration. But to me I sort of see it as an immigrant small business’ version of a folk artist’s flag:

R.A. Miller, Miller Family American Flag, enamel paint on tin // Source: GainesvilleTimes.com.

R.A. Miller, Miller Family American Flag, enamel paint on tin // Source: GainesvilleTimes.com.

So when I stumbled upon this image, I got very excited:

Afterimage US flag from the Exploratorium. // Source: Exploratorium.edu.

Afterimage US flag from the Exploratorium. // Source: Exploratorium.edu.

Of course, it’s from that world-class hands-on science museum in San Francisco, the Exploratorium. It’s from one of their classic science exhibits on perception—this one is about afterimages. Stare at the image for 15 seconds, then look away to see the US flag in red, white and blue.

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