I have never claimed to be the most “in touch” person with regards to the events of my home state of South Carolina. A valid excuse would be that I am just drifting off in one direction or the other on the internet, usually gravitating towards some other kind of event happening in other parts of the world that are out of my reach. Perhaps I need to start paying more attention to the local news. I say all this because I was almost shocked to learn that the South Carolina state flag has not had an official design since 1940, and any recreations have been left to the interpretations of state law specifications by the designers.
For those of you who are reading and not from the state of South Carolina, please keep in mind our state flag is truly iconic and beloved by those who grew up here. About 20 years ago, the flags popularity blossomed into an array of t-shirts, polo shirts, belts, koozies, license plates, stickers, and more. I believe some of this was a genuine pride for the history of the state vs. the British, the love of the area, or maybe it was, or is, pride in something that simply represents home. Either case, the ease of recognizing whatever meaning you may have about the state in the flag is due partly because of how beautifully and effectively simplistic the design is… or maybe not, as I am just now finding out.
Ask any South Carolina native what the state flag looks like and you will hear “a white palmetto tree with a white crescent moon on a blue background.” Well according to the five historians tasked with creating the most accurate design, that's no moon it's a space station, er I mean it is just a crescent and not representative of the moon at all. The crescent descends from the South Carolina Regimental Cap Badges of the Revolutionary War and on the flag flown by Colonel William Moultrie, which was also the inspiration for using indigo blue as the current flag color. The size, shape, and location of the crescent has been modified based on historical data. The palmetto tree has also been updated based on a weak-ass sketch drawn by an amateur artist from 1910. Wait, what? OK big deal, the blue has been determined to be Pantone 282 C, the crescent is not a moon but can still be a crescent with just a little bit of modification, and the palmetto tree is still a palmetto tree, only slightly modified as well. So it’s all good right? Eh, judge for yourself.
The historical updated flag (which has not been approved yet) looks half ass’d and disproportionate compared to what we have been used to. The spirit is still there, but the refinement has been lost. Hysterically, there has been some backlash by those who have seen it and the historians who created the new design plan on revising it. So, I must ask what has been gained from the more “historical” rendering of the design? Like all flags, the South Carolina state flag is graphic design, and graphic design along with all design, progresses forward with life, not backward. A modern rendition of the past is simply the present, so why not instill what we have learned about design up to this point, instead of trying to use the design skills of a group of people from 300 years ago. Modern symbolism does not have to mean the erasing of events from our past, it can simply embrace them with a visual balance that is favored by the present.