And then the real fun begins.
“At that point (after the top 3 are picked,) we think it will take about two weeks to get those flags made,” Joey Wignarajah, one of the project leaders, said this week. “Then we take them to the city council to let them see the designs.
“Then we kick off voting.”
The goal, Wignarajah said, is to have the three favorite designs unveiled to the City Council by the end of March. That would allow plenty of time for public voting, which is going to be done via text message.
“Ultimately we figured that was the most efficient way of ensuring everyone could vote on the flag they liked, while also making sure everyone could only vote once,” Wignarajah said.
Plenty of submissions
The Tulsa Flag project collected designs from the public for a few months before closing the submission process down last month. Total tally: 378 submitted flags.
“About 260 of those were what we’d call ‘responsive to the design brief,’” Wignarajah said. The first part of the project included getting “Tulsa themes” from the public. Those themes were then narrowed down and designers were supposed to draw from those concepts when they came up with their flags.
The themes were: Oil discovery, Race riots, Founding/Creek Council Oak Tree, Art Deco architecture, Route 66, and Tulsa Sound.
“Now, some of those 260 are variations,” Wignarajah said. “Someone might submit a design and then offer a few different versions of that specific design. But for the most part we got a bunch of different ideas.”
With that many good submissions, Wignarajah said, it will be tough to narrow it down to the best three. That’s why the project has called on a secretive seven-member panel to sort through the different designs.
The names of the panelists have not been revealed, but Wignarajah said they include an art historian, an architect, entrepreneurs, creatives, and a person who has spent more than a decade branding different cities across the country.
“Getting 260 good submissions really exceeded our expectations,” Wignarajah said.
Why a new flag?
The Tulsa Flag project officially began in 2016 as a way to replace Tulsa’s current flag with something fresher and more flag-worthy. As Jacob Johnson, another member of the project, said last year, flags are an important part of a thriving city’s brand.
And Tulsa’s flag, he said, was not cutting it.
The current flag is just a city seal, pretty boring by flag standards. Even worse is that the image is copyrighted, meaning it can’t be reproduced commercially.
The result is an arguably ugly flag that, maybe for the best, can only be found on top of Tulsa’s City Hall.
When whichever design wins and is made into a flag, that should all change. Want to print a shirt with Tulsa’s flag on it? Go ahead. Want to tattoo it on your arm (or somewhere else)? All yours.
While the new flag will undoubtedly be more appealing than the current one, the idea is also to create a little economic stimulus. Meaning everyone wins.
“We’re excited that we’re at this point,” Wignarajah said.