2020 has thrown the world into a state of flux. A turbulent year of Coronavirus, BLM protests, and increasing concern over climate change and social inequality has sparked a global rallying cry to acknowledge and embrace new priorities and new possibilities.
As a creative agency, the first few months of lockdown were incredibly tough – mentally, emotionally and financially – and we decided to set the wheels in motion for a project that could hopefully lift up both ourselves and others. We also wanted to support and celebrate our brilliant creative community, many of whom found themselves sat at home while jobs were shelved, and income dwindled.
But even in these tough, uncertain times, some green shoots of positivity could be found: we witnessed around us a growing sense of community and pulling together; with flights grounded and tourists holed-up at home, nature was given the chance to breathe and to heal; and across the globe, many people finally had the opportunity to stop, reassess and readjust.
Our intention for Fly Your Flag was to spread a message of hope during these unsettled times, and for people to consider that this could be the greatest opportunity for positive change that we’ve seen in our lifetime.
On the 28th October 2020, HarrimanSteel launched ‘Fly Your Flag’, an independent, not-for-profit initiative calling on anyone, anywhere to to design a flag which represents their hopes for a reimagined future, and in the process, generate a far-reaching dialogue that encourages people to think critically about the changes they want to see in the world and in society, post-Covid, and post-2020.
Why flags? Flags have been used to represent messages of protest, community, hope and pride for centuries. Flags show what we stand for. The symbolism of a flag as a quiet but powerful expression of identity, unity, and rebellion resounded with us, and offered contributors a (literally) blank canvas to work with. We encouraged contributors to express their vision using whatever medium they wanted to – photography, poetry, collage, illustration, written word, etc.
The initiative was kick-started with submissions from giants of the design and creative worlds, including Eike König, James Victore, Antoni + Alison, Dana Robinson, Anthony Burrill and Mac Collins, to name but a few. Then, on the 28th, the doors were thrown open to members of the public around the world.
As well as appearing on our Fly Your Flag website
(www.flyyourflag.world) and Instagram page (@flyyourflag), a selection of designs have also been produced as full-size flags and hung outside The Hoxton, Amsterdam. The first two flags were raised on the 28th October to coincide with the launch, and they were changed every two weeks until the end of the year, showcasing a variety of different designs and topics.
From a relatively small ask of our contributors, we have created a visually impactful project with a powerful message for change.
The subject matter of the flags received so far covers everything from social inequality, environmental reform and the importance of buying local, to anti-consumerism, multiculturalism and the sanctity of mental health.
We have received flags from 15 countries around the world from as far afield as Ghana, Canada, Australia and South Africa. In the first month after launching, our submissions grew by 80%, and we continue to receive new submissions from both artists and members of the public regularly, so there’s no sign of the initiative slowing down.
Looking to the future, we plan to engage college students too, and ultimately create an exhibition to celebrate and promote the positive change we all want to see.