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by The Lacking of HumanSanity. . 138 reads.

10000 Islands Best Flag Competition - Interviews!


To accompany the LinkBest Flag and Motto Competitions currently being hosted on the 10000 Islands Linkforum and LinkDiscord, I reached out to several flag and graphic designers from 10000 Islands embassy regions to ask them questions about how they started flag design, their best work, and advice they would give to new graphic designers. This dispatch is the collection of those interviews! I hope everyone enjoys and my personal gratitude to everyone who let me interview them!

Interview with Aumeltopia, Delegate of The South Pacific

What got you started with graphic/flag design? What do you enjoy about it?
My graphic design career on NS really started in two places. First, Iíve always loved typefaces, since I first started using a computer, I think. Pretty quickly I developed strong font preferences and could name almost all the Windows preinstalled typefaces as well as a bunch of other famous ones. I think thatís my first exposure to and interaction with graphic design, and to this day typography is a huge part of my design mindset.

Then, second, I did some cartography and flag design on paper for my (separate from NS) conworld before joining the game, which is where I think I discovered that designing flags specifically was fun. When I joined NS ó keep in mind I was still pretty young at the time ó I wanted to make a custom flag that looked like the ones on Wikipedia, not one made in MS Paint, so I researched a bit and found out that almost all of the Wikipedia graphics are in SVG format and are made with Inkscape. I downloaded Inkscape, and...well, never stopped making stuff.

Iíve always been interested in and good at symbols, so I guess design is a natural fit for me. For pretty much as long as I can remember there have been graphics other people have designed where, upon seeing them, Iíve thought to myself, ďitís not quite right and I can see exactly whatís wrong with itĒ. Once I had the tools, I started turning those thoughts into graphics of my own. The good and the bad thing, I guess, is that Iíve never actually taken a real graphic design classó everything I do is just based on what feels right or is emulating the popular styles/conventions I see in real designersí work that I think looks nice.

As far as what I enjoy about it... it can be frustrating at times if you canít come up with a design that works the way you want it to, but most of the time itís relaxing. Opening up Adobe Illustrator and doing a logoset is really a great way for me to de-stress, I find. Itís just a quick gratification when you see something that looks pretty nice that you made just by playing around in the type and color menus for a few minutes.

Is there a graphic you have designed which you are particularly proud of? What graphic? Why?
As far as flags go, here's definitely my favourite. It's the flag I designed for my region project of Meihua. Meihua means "plum blossom" in Mandarin, so... that's a plum blossom there on the flag. I think I made pretty good colour choices -- the teals feel calming, but the magenta gives it a bit of vibrancy. The main reason I like it, though, is because it's really simple, with one iconic charge. That's the key to flag design, I think.

As far as non-flag stuff goes, the one NS design I can imagine putting on my CV is the set of logos and other graphics I've designed for the news organization NationStates Today. I was aiming to make something that could look like a real-life news network, and I think it worked.

What advice would you give to a new graphic designer?
Hereís one piece of advice: graphic design isnít all about being able to do cool manipulations and mash up shapes. Itís not just about the logo concept. Most of the heart of it is the fine details of the execution that go into determining what the aesthetic is (yes, I use that term unironically :P ). Sure, you can put some text on a circular path to make a seal and make a regional icon to go in the middle... but the more important parts from a design standpoint are: are you using enough space around the text that the text looks balanced and centered in its space and not squishing the boundaries? Are you using colours and typefaces that arenít the Windows/Mac defaults, so that it doesnít look like you just threw this together in MS Word? Is the weight of the text roughly matching with the weight of any other lines that make up the seal, so it doesnít look like one is overshadowing the other? A lot of it is definitely about ďbalanceĒ in some way or another.
Also: try out the golden ratio for flags. It looks awesome.

Thanks to Aumeltopia for taking the time to talk with me!

Interview with Almonaster Nuevo, Minister of Internal Affairs of Canada

What got you started with graphic/flag design? What do you enjoy about it?
I've always enjoyed art, although I've never been naturally good at it. I insisted on struggling through art class in high school as an antidote to the full-on STEM curriculum they wanted to force me into. The flag design thing you can blame on Aersoldorf. When he was ambassador to Canada he saw some of my fractal work there and asked me to make a flag for him.

Is there a graphic you have designed which you are particularly proud of? What graphic? Why?
I think that design primarily needs to fit the context. A simple but effective graphic is much better design than a technical masterpiece which overwhelms its surroundings. In that light I thnk one of my better offerings was a pair of icons for the read/unread forum markers in NS Australia.

What advice would you give to a new graphic designer?
Firstly, put in the time to master your tools and techniques. There's always more to learn, but you need to get to the level where you can generally real-ize whatever you are trying to make without spending a lot of time on working out how.

Then you may find that you don't know what to say. Classic artist's dilemma. Do not wait for inspiration. Keep working on something, even if it feels like its not going anywhere. You may find that it morphs into something else. That's OK. The key thing is to keep producing.

Thanks to Almonaster Nuevo for talking with me!

Interview with Your imaginary friend, Prime Minister of Lazarus

What got you started with graphic/flag design? What do you enjoy about it?
I first started doing graphic design because I realized images could make things look a lot more appealing, engaging and interesting to people. Starting with personalized nation flags for myself, I soon started creating images to give regional newspapers I was involved in more professional looks. I can't point to a specific moment when I felt like I began graphic designing, but through moments where I wanted some kind of image that didn't exist already and trying to provide, I've picked up a fair number of skills that allow me to do more and more with time. My favorite part about it is how creative one can be with tools like GIMP... even though some things may seem restricted in what one can do, there are usually loopholes that allow one to easily create any number of different kinds of images. I love playing around with things, trying to make epicness.

Is there a graphic you have designed which you are particularly proud of? What graphic? Why?
Here's a picture I made just this afternoon! Mia of TWP and I have been friends for a while now, and we play around that we're taking care of this dragon baby named Ami. Mia DMed me that her eyes hurt and she wanted me to draw a picture of Ami to cheer her up... so here it is! Definitely not my cleanest or most detailed of artnesses, but it came from the kind of situation that I think graphic design is best suited to. Pictures should be made to make people smile!

What advice would you give to a new graphic designer?
You can do it, just try! It doesn't have to be perfect, but it'll still be worth it because you'll have made mistakes and figured out some ways to fix them. Next time what you do will be easier and look better, I promise. :3

Thanks to Your imaginary friend for taking the time to talk with me!

Interview with Pelanesomunk, Senator for Blue Canaria North of 10000 Islands

What got you started with graphic/flag design? What do you enjoy about it?
I am pretty much a self taught designer. I started a couple years ago just fooling around and found that I enjoyed creating things for people in game.

Is there a graphic you have designed which you are particularly proud of? What graphic? Why?
Just recently I created the new TITO Statue for our newest Knight. I really enjoyed looking for the right design that captured the players character.

What advice would you give to a new graphic designer?
Just give it a try. Its difficult at first to find the right motivation but in the end it is really fun.

Thanks to Pelanesomunk for taking the time to talk with me!

Interview with Penguin Dictators, Thane of Werewolves of Wintreath and former Cartographer-General of 10000 Islands

What got you started with graphic/flag design? What do you enjoy about it?
Actually, I recall getting into flag design specifically around 2007 or so. I had made a nation called the Seven Levels of Heaven (currently CTE for the 20th-ish time), and I wanted to design a unique kind of flag for it. As for graphic design in general, that was around, oh...2003 or so when I was still in high school, joined a messageboard, and got into making forum signatures (aka sigs). Overall, I enjoy the freedom you can have with how sigs/flags are made. as well as the challenge of making a better one, though admittedly I havent worked on one in ages.

Is there a graphic you have designed which you are particularly proud of? What graphic? Why?
I think I'm most proud of some of my past flags that I've made, or even some of my map work that I've done outside of the 10KI map when I was reworking it. Since they have no prior templates (aside from maybe Photoshop brush types), it feels like much more of an achievement when the product comes out looking good. I think my most proud achievement graphically, however, is my drawing (actual pencil and colored pencil drawing) I did some months ago that was basically a culmination of a few of my favorite things mixed together in a sort of character portrait (with every detail and design being tied to either a particular video game, superhero, or animal)...although I will say that animal wise, I went for a penguin because it's my most known moniker...even though my favorite animal is a tiger. But I don't consider myself a good artist by any means, so even at a personal level this felt like my biggest accomplishment in that field.

What advice would you give to a new graphic designer?
The biggest advice I'd give is to own up to mistakes or your work and learn/improve from them. Most people aren't going to start with amazing work (though some people do have that type of natural talent). For most artists out there, it starts out with stick figures, having bouts of hating your work and wanting to move to something else, and running into challenges with either being disgruntled by the time it takes or feeling like you lack the skill. But a true artist knows these challenges and finds ways to overcome them. Once you can overcome hurdles like those, you'll be right on the path to growing as an artist and producing some truly exceptional work. Just remember that you have the ability to do so, you just have to believe that you can.

Thanks to Penguin Dictators for taking the time to talk with me!

Interview with Rekken, Cartographer of The Hole To Hide In

What got you started with graphic/flag design? What do you enjoy about it?
Well, to start off with I'm not really a graphic designer. I'm actually just a program engineer who likes to draw on his free time. I drew quite a bit when I was little. I was never too good at it and got bullied about it at school which eventually drove me to stop drawing. Then last summer when I was on a holiday with my family I felt like drawing because I had nothing better to do and since drawing with my phone worked well enough I ended up getting a tablet so I could get better at drawing without paper and I've been doing it ever since since it's a good way to spend time and clear my mind.

Is there a graphic you have designed which you are particularly proud of? What graphic? Why?
There isn't really any specific piece of work that I'm particularly proud of since I'm still learning and getting better but I will show a couple of the better ones.

What advice would you give to a new graphic designer?
When it comes to advice to people new to graphic design and such I think the first thing to do is to decide how you want to do things. Just try different things. Paper and pen, paint, different software. On PC I'd say knowing some basic image editing or photoshopping is useful just so you can adjust colors, brightness and contrast when needed. GIMP and Photoshop are good for that. For actual drawing or graphic design or whatever you want to call it I'd say use anything but a mouse. If you have a touchscreen phone or better, a tablet use that. I personally use a tablet (just a regular Huawei MediaPad) and Autodesk Sketchbook on it since it works good with and without a pen. The same software is also for phones so feel free to give it a try.

Thanks to Rekken for taking the time to talk to me!

Interview with Sitrix of The Hole To Hide In

What got you started with graphic/flag design? What do you enjoy about it?
Well it started nearly year ago. I was then not part of ns community in any sort of a way. I was playing a political party in some game and I've decided to make some flags for it. The party was called Voice of The Polish People and it was a populist party.

I know pretty bad, but it was my first time when I started making flags on computer. Before that I was making polandballs on my scribbles, and had some flag ideas for my fictional country which name was Sitrix. But later on I was going to play in yet another game. Then I've found LinkFlagmaker on the internet, a wonderful tool which I'm still using for my flags. It helped me make yet another bizarre flag which looked like this:
Of course, serious flagmaking began a year ago when I joined NS. I've made a cthullu flag for it:
Then in October, I started to make lots of more flags. And people started to complement me for flags and then they started asking to make flags for them from that day forward. On 01.10.2019 my flag career had started. Why do I know this exact date? Well, it is still on my friend's Discord server. So now I'm going to be a flagmaker for about 6 months soon!

What do i enjoy in this? Well... First of all this is my way of expression. I love geography, history, politics and edgy ideologies. Flag making allowed me to make flags which can be used by everyone. Our flags are not flags in idea of representing a nation/organisation of real life in a simplistic yet unique way, but truly a form of art.
Secondly, I'll be honest with you: like most of the people I'm rotten in some things. Some people lie a lot. Some people like to rule over others. And I love to be praised. Sometimes I think I get too much credit for it since I hold a belief that any human with determination can make such flags as well. But still, the idea of recognition that you've made something that can be seen as beautiful makes you proud of your work.
Thirdly, The "orders" or flag making request. If someone wants you to make flags for them that means your abilities are recognized in some sphere and you have a spark of ingenuity in you and also skills to make your image come to reality of pixels and numbers. For most of my time i'll try to make these orders happen in order to keep the praises and seek new challenges. The idea of making a flag for someone is knowing what they want exactly.
For the most part is asking them about the colors they want, what they want to represent and what shape do they have in mind or style. When you are making an flag request, you not only make a flag for yourself to make you feel proud, but also you make a flag for someone who has their own ideas of a perfect flag they desire. and your objective is to make this flag as close to their ideal concept as you can. sometimes you can even exceed expectations of your "clients".
And the fourth and the last reason is: I like to waste my time on doing things which can sometimes make me escape from my reality. Sometimes things are too heavy on me and making flags or some other thing like that can ease my mind.

Is there a graphic you have designed which you are particularly proud of? What graphic? Why?
I'm proud of 80% of my work. However there are always some special ones. My greatest work is actually this flag.

This flag sas made only by using paint. I wanted to make a viking flag with a particular shape which was best in Paint. The shape was my greatest work and then making it look like real flag by using NS effect on it made it look not only unique but also fantastic. I may be not the best at flag design but I bet you wouldn't see any other flag like that in most of cases. The runic words are also on it. The words are from icelandic and they mean "May Odin Protect us", I used icelandic from a translator. And then also a runic Words converter. And boom, one amazing flag! I can only say that it was for me a challenge. It was something I've never done in terms of flag shape and it will be always the most unique flag I've made. Of course it's not the most loved. But it is the one worth a special praise.
I've got more flags I love, but this one is my Magnum Opus.

What advice would you give to a new graphic designer?
I can't really give any advice in terms of graphic design but when it comes to flag making i'm happily tell my advice which I hope will be used well.
1) The first flags or creations are probably not the perfect ones. And that's fine. Creating a flag comes with time.

2) The amount of colors. As I am always saying the maximum of colors that should be on a flag is five. And the amount of colors doesn't really make your flag look better. It can make it look grotesque. Always pick colors which "don't bite themselves" which mean don't take colors which probably look bad together. For example very light green with very light yellow and brown will probably look bad.

3) Flag styles are important. For example my Sitrixian flag is modeled in style to look similar to fascist styled flags with a bit of futuristic styles. But that's kind of my style and others can have other styles.

4) Find inspiration. There are many flags in there which are amazing and worth you time to try to replicate or even add your own flavor to it.

5) For beginners I recommend using Paint mixed with the flag designer site. I'm still using such sites because I sadly can't understand how to use other programs. But that's fine.

6) And the last one: have fun doing that! If you can't enjoy your work, that means it's not a work or hobby worth hours of working on.

Thank to Sitrix for taking the time to talk to me!

The Lacking of HumanSanity