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Once upon a fourth of July.

I promise the weekly Zentangle log will return, but I’m taking pause to celebrate the fourth of July with some fun design facts. Yes, you read that correctly. Design Facts...about Independence Day!

You may think that sounds a little crazy, but we all know good design (not necessarily art, we’re talking design here) communicates about a subject to an audience. Why should Independence Day, or more accurately, assets associated with the day be any different?

First, let’s explore, perhaps, the most iconic element: the American flag! You probably already know the flag has fifty white stars on a field of blue, along with seven red and six white stripes. You may even already be aware that those stars represent the fifty federal states while the stripes signify the original thirteen colonies. Why those specific colors were selected is a much murkier topic.

It is commonly believed that the red stands for valor, the white innocence and the blue means vigilance, perseverance, and justice. However, there is not official governance on this as it relates to the flag, specifically. It seems the most significant tie to color meaning is associated with the Great Seal of the United States, which was created in 1782. At that point, the flag had been around for over a decade. In my research on the subject, I read several historians beliefs that the colors came from the American colonies flag, which of course originated from the Union Jack of the United Kingdom.

On the fourth of July (actually, the colonies voted on the second of July but congress hemmed and hawed for two days, so we celebrate on the fourth), we celebrate voting to revolt again the British realm (who apparently inspired our flag) with the Declaration of Independence. Let’s look at its design next!

While I don’t have fun facts about the hand-writing or free fonts that echo its patterns, I was able to dig up a few design notes on the article itself. For instance, though Thomas Jefferson is commonly revered as its author, it may not be his handwriting on the original, signed parchment that resides in the National Archives in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, alongside the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Nope, it seems the document was copied over several times, called “engrossing,” so that it could be read clearly. Only two people even signed the (I’m guessing much messier version) on the fourth of July. It took over a month to gather the fifty-two official signatures and a few never did sign.

One more note on the Declaration’s design and its authorship. Thomas Jefferson most certainly did the lion’s share of the writing work, but his drafts were reviewed and revised by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, and Jefferson himself. So, here’s to collaboration and iteration in the design process!

There you have is all around us, from the very birth of our nation to today!

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