A little Design history: 'The American Flag'


Today is Flag Day! Today we celebrate the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on June 14, 1777.

That's 239 years of stars and stripes. The American flag is so embedded in our culture, it's easy to forget where and how it came about. For those familiar with Betsy Ross, you know she's credited for sewing the first American flag in 1776 - but who designed it? The American Flag is no doubt one of the most important and iconic designs in American history. So of course, that got us thinking...

  1. How did THAT design brief go? (Target Audience: Every single American of all ages)
  2. How did Betsy Ross get the ultimate flag hookup?
  3. Do you think George and his crew hovered over Betsy's shoulder as they gave 'design suggestions'? ie) Move this here, try that there...
  4. Who created the 'proposed sketch' of the flag design? Was it on a dinner napkin?

Thankfully, www.history.com answered most of our queries.

It is believed that 'in late May, early June 1776, Elizabeth 'Betsy' Ross recieved a visit from 3 gentlemen - General George Washington, Robert Morris and George Ross. During this meeting, she was allegedly presented with a sketch of a flag that featured 13 red and white stripes and 13 six-pointed stars, and was asked if she could create a flag to match the proposed design. Ross agreed, but suggested a couple of changes, including arranging the stars in a circle and reducing the points on each star to five instead of six.'

The story suggests Betsy was introduced to her future clients via mutual friend - her Husband's Uncle recommended her for the job. It is also reported that Betsy worshipped at the same church as George Washington and Robert Morris, so they were already acquainted. And let's be honest, church was basically their version of Linkedin.

Don't worry, she had DID have flag-making experience. 'Ross did indeed make flags, as evidenced by a receipt for the sum of more than 14 pounds paid to her on May 29, 1777, by the Pennsylvania State Navy Board for making “ships colors.” So there you go, Ross had impeccable timing!

Unfortunately, we may never know what it was like to work creatively with George W, but there's one more piece to the design puzzle.

'Some historians attribute the design of the first flag to Francis Hopkinson, a New Jersey delegate to the Continental Congress and signer of the Declaration of Independence, who also played a role in designing seals for various departments within the U.S. government. In 1780, Hopkinson sought payment from the Board of Admiralty for his design of the “flag of the United States of America.” However, his petition for payment was denied on the grounds that “he was not the only one consulted” on the design.

While we feel for Francis (not getting credit where credit may be due), we love the American flag and will celebrate this design masterpiece for generations to come. GO USA!

Enjoy some of our modern design interpretations of our great flag throughout the week via instagram @thecreativepack