I don’t like the state flag of Kansas.  This has been on my mind because, as a Kansan, I see it frequently these days.  What I find so ugly about it is the large font across the bottom, which says KANSAS.  It is the largest of its kind, perhaps only topped by the WISCONSIN on the, well, Wisconsin state flag.

Yes, that’s right, I care about this so much that I’ve been studying other state flags and comparing designs.  I find state flags emblazoned with the state’s name to be aesthetically unappealing: they may as well just write FLAG across the bottom.

Whining about state flags, however, seemed like a rather boring and short blog post.  I thought I might try to find out if there was any correlation between states with terrible (read: named) flags and how they operated.  My first thought was to try and link it to education, but that was a thorny issue: graduation rates seemed like a stretch, and other performance measures were simply too varied to choose from.  In short, I would have been opening up several cans of worms.

So, I found a ranking of states by art budgets (per capita in 2010) at ArtBistro and went to work.  Did a less abstract flag relate to a smaller art budget?  Below find every state with a state name on its flag, with its art budget ranking (from lowest to highest, per capita).  The District of Columbia is included.

Flag of California svg

51.  This is a pretty cool flag, and doesn’t simply say CALIFORNIA, but we’re not off to a great start.

Flag of Florida svg

50.  So tiny, but this is ugly and my theory is holding up immediately.

500px Flag of Washington svg

45.  Michigan, Arizona, Colorado and Georgia all derail my theory, but look past that and examine this flag.  This would be like my designing a flag, putting a flag in the middle of it, and then script around it that said “THE SEAL OF THE FLAG OF FLAGS.”

500px Flag of Iowa svg

43.  Maybe they were worried about being confused with the French.  Because the French love eagles.

Flag of Nevada svg

42.  I think I’d prefer a blue flag.  All blue.

Flag of Wisconsin svg

41.  I think this is the Michigan state flag?

Flag of Kansas svg

40.  Ah, the inspiration … for this post.  Also: the water and ship in the background is very deceptive.  I hope no one bases their tourism on state flag design.  (If you do, though, PLEASE CONTACT ME.)

Flag of New Hampshire svg

39.  LIVE FREE OR DIE.  C’mon, New Hampshire, your state flag should design itself.

Flag of Montana svg

38.  Congratulations on the awful kerning, which only draws more attention to the huge state name across your flag.

Flag of Indiana svg

37.  “This is cool yet classic.  I think our citizens will love it.  But shit, wait, where do we live again?”

Flag of Idaho svg

36.  State of Idaho, State of Idaho.  State of Idaho, State of Idaho.  State of Idaho, State of Idaho.  I have hives on my neck.

Flag of Maine svg

35.  I guess this flag is the most defensible so far, as those guys would fall off the flag if that banner wasn’t supporting them.

Flag of Oregon svg

34.  I find this charming, if only for the lack of rigidity.  I can tell I’m softening.  Also, there’s a beaver on the back of this flag:

500px Flag of Oregon reverse svg

Back to work:

Flag of Virginia svg

33.  Virginia is for stepping on people.

Flag of Illinois svg

30.  This strikes me as a font chosen by a student for the title page, about 15 minutes before the paper is due.

500px Flag of Arkansas svg

28.  “Red?  Check.  White?  Check.  Blue?  Check.  Stars?  Check.  Are we missing anything else?”

500px Flag of Kentucky svg

27.  I’ll award partial credit for a font/kerning combo that makes the state name nearly unreadable.

Flag of Vermont svg

26.  Just had to sneak it on there, didn’t you?

500px Flag of South Dakota svg

25.  Hey, it’s the first flag that doubles as a tourism ad.  At least they have a better arts budget than Idaho!

Flag of Nebraska svg

24.  I’d let this pass if you didn’t call it a “great” seal, Nebraska.

Flag of North Carolina svg

23.  I was going to let it off the hook for only featuring initials, but then I convinced myself that initials may actually be worse.  NC = Not Cool, North Carolina.

Flag of North Dakota svg

17.  Congrats, North Dakota.  We’re thrilled to see you here.

Flag of West Virginia svg

13.  Is this some flag-on-flag action?  A flag with a frame?  I’m barely noticing your state name, West Virginia!

Flag of Wyoming svg

7.  The buffalo tried to eat the state name, but I guess it glows or something.

Flag of Minnesota svg

2.  This is a lifebuoy, right?

More than 75% of the states that name themselves on their state flags sit in the bottom half of this 2010 art budget list, ranked by per capita spending.

I’m surprised but pleased by my “findings.”  I was hoping to just bust on some ugly flags for a bit, but I developed a very tenuous theory as well!