Updated Jan. 6, 2022, 12:08 p.m. ET
In theory, the seal of St. Francis County, Missouri has all the attributes of a normal and classic government seal: a bald eagle depicted on a waving American flag, with a Bible, a cross, a shovel. and a pickaxe, all surrounded by the text “The Great Seal of the County of Saint-François” and “In God We Trust”.
But classic and normal government seals don’t usually get a lot of attention on social media.
Posted on Reddit’s “CrappyDesign” subreddit over the weekend, the modest St. Francois County Seal attracted nearly 17,000 upvotes and comments describing it as “a free clip art,” “a free trial adobe photoshop “and” strong vibrations “Made in powerpoint”. ”
Now, commissioners for the small rural county of eastern Missouri have announced they will be holding a public competition for a new seal.
“I understand there is a spike in social media fever over the county seal,” Chairman Commissioner Harold Gallaher said at a county committee meeting on Tuesday.
The amount of images on the seal – and the fact that they’re color photographs rather than simpler renderings – makes it “an artistic and design challenge,” said Ted Kaye, secretary of the North American Vexillological Association and group compiler. “Good Flag, Bad Flag” flag design guide.
“It’s a challenge, even for county seals. Often the seals are quite detailed because they’re meant to be put on a piece of paper and seen up close,” he said. “It’s clearly a kitchen sink seal.”
How the current seal was born
The impression on social media that the seal was designed by an amateur turns out to be correct: Gallaher, who is 70 years old and trained as a mechanical engineer, designed the current county seal in 2018.
“I said that a 5-year-old with a high fever might do a better job than me,” he said at the county commission meeting on Tuesday.
During his unveiling in 2018, Gallaher said the county seal had not been updated “in years,” according to the Daily newspaper newspaper. “So with simple software I raised this new one, and we have adopted it now as our county seal,” he said then.
In an email to NPR, Gallaher explained that prior to 2018, the old county seal only existed as a fabric stitching pattern, meaning it couldn’t be easily replicated. by a printer.
He learned of the problem with a print deadline in a few days. “I found software and designed a digital seal with the same elements as the original. I wanted an ‘aggressive’ eagle because most seals make the eagle look stuffed. not an artist, but it worked so far, “he said. noted.
Over the years, said Gallaher, negative comments about the seal have outnumbered positive comments.
“I always told the person making a comment that I would welcome any improved design ideas they might have, but no one has ever gone that far,” said Gallaher. “Now, with the issue garnering so much attention, it’s time to make it a project and get the job done – and done right.”
It’s time for a new
At Tuesday’s meeting, Gallaher said the time had come for something new, joking that the current seal is “positive proof that I am not inclined to art.”
The parameters of the competition will be announced at the county committee meeting next Tuesday. While the county is unwilling to spend taxpayer money for the design fee, the winner will receive a small prize funded by donations from county officials.
Ideally, said Gallaher, the new seal should include all symbols of the current one, as well as a new symbol representing the many parks in the county. It should also include less red color (“It’s fading too fast,” he said).
Perhaps more importantly, the new seal should be “better than the seal we have now,” Gallaher said with a laugh on Tuesday.
Kaye, the flag design expert, says many of the same principles of successful flag design can also be applied to seals, namely “simplicity, meaningful symbolism, few colors and distinctiveness.”
This story originally appeared in the Morning edition live blog.
Copyright 2022 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.