As the old saying goes, if you can’t do something right, do it anyway! County of St. Francis, Missouri, population 65,359 (as of the 2010 census), made national news when it launched a new iteration of its county seal. The design appears to have been assembled in a 1995 version of Microsoft Paint and is the work of St. Francis County President Commissioner Harold Gallaher.
“I understand it’s a climax on social media about the county seal,” Gallaher said at a January commission meeting, quoted in Daily newspaper online. “It was urgent business at the time when I had two days for the public to come up with a seal and my design is proof positive that I have no artistic inclination.”
But I ask you, could a non-artist have so skillfully juggled the existing symbols of the seal: a American flag, bald eagle in flight, pickaxe and axe, the probably gerrymandered shape of the county, and a book with a giant cross sticking out of it? It takes a special kind of vision to take something already bad and make it worse. Too bad, if we put that exact seal in a parody tv show like, Saturday Night Live Where Parks and recreation, it would be castigated as excessively ridiculous.
The badness of the design lies mainly in the poorly resolved photorealistic clip-art style elements, which Gallaher enlarged from the 1982 version of the seal, creating an array of compositional blunders – but the seal on the seal is the red font vivid encircling this hodgepodge of images. Like a Reddit Commentator observed, this is a missed opportunity for Comic Sans. Apparently, redesigning the county seal has been Gallaher’s favorite project for years, where he was pictured next to two previous iterations of the seal during the “State of the County” address on February 19, 2018. I think we found the only disaster that cannot be attributed to the impact of COVID-19, but simply the reluctance of ordinary people to hire artists to do things that artists do well.
Still resistant to the idea of using taxpayers’ money to make a bad thing less bad, Gallaher and the commission decide the parameters of an open competition to redesign the seal. And rest assured, despite a self-confessed lack of artistry, Gallaher still has plenty of ideas for revamping the revamp.
“I would like to add an element to the seal,” he said during the meeting. “We are Parkland and I would like the seal to include a parks symbol.” This is a great idea, because what this seal needs is definitely more in progress. “I wish it was better than the seal we have now, which would be a slam dunk,” he said. It’s hard to imagine a result that could actually be worse, but if it’s possible, we expect Show Me State’s proud St. Francois County to be the ones to show us the way.