The Rainbow Flag

A month ago, Gilbert Baker died. Baker was the creator of the rainbow flag, one of today’s most well-known LGBT symbols.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

A flag is probably one of the most challenging symbols to design. Whether you are approached to do it for a corporation, a sports club, or a country, it is always a touchy issue. Choosing the wrong symbols or inappropriate colours can have immense consequences. Besides, even the best design may be misinterpreted. The Canadian Maple Leaf is a good example: Initially ridiculed and rejected by veterans and conservatives, the flag had to go a long way to be publicly accepted.

Flags are symbols of affiliation and belonging and that’s why the intended audience needs an appealing narrative to accept them. I have written about how a shirt covered with the enemy’s blood became a national flag.

Baker’s original flag design had eight colours with a particular meaning: hot-pink for sex, red for life, orange – healing, yellow – sunlight, green – nature, turquoise – art, indigo – harmony, violet – spirit. Gilbert Baker was not a designer. He was an activist with a clear understanding of what the flag should stand for. And his lack of formal design training was actually an advantage: He didn’t explore complex shapes and patterns; he conveyed a powerful message through plain colours and stripes.

The flag went through modifications over time: hot-pink was removed due to an unavailability of hot-pink fabric, turquoise was dropped to get to an even number of stripes, and indigo was replaced with blue.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

Baker never patented the design or made any money from it. But he will be remembered as the creator of one of the modern world’s most iconic symbols.