Soon, a white sun rising over lake Michigan with three light blue stripes in the water below it could hang from windows, fly outside city of Milwaukee buildings and find itself printed on T-shirts and souvenirs.
The winner of The People’s Flag of Milwaukee’s flag design competition, “Sunrise Over the Lake” designed by Robert Lenz, was unveiled Tuesday night.
The People’s Flag of Milwaukee, a group led by local designers and historians, began soliciting design submissions last year for a flag to replace the city’s current flag, which is considered outdated by design experts.
Out of more than 1,000 total submissions, 45 semi-finalists and five finalists were selected. Between May 14 and June 14, Milwaukee citizens were encouraged to rate each of the five finalist designs on a scale of zero to 10. Sunrise Over the Lake won.
The design depicts the sun rising over Lake Michigan to symbolize a new day, according to a description on the People’s Flag’s website. The light blue bars beneath the white semi-circle sun represent Milwaukee’s three rivers and three founders — Byron Kilbourn, Solomon Juneau and George Walker.
A design called the “M Star,” which featured a star made by four cream-colored Ms in the center of a blue background took second place.
Sunrise Over the Lake will be submitted to the city leaders for consideration. Once the design is in the city’s hands, the Common Council can choose to adopt the flag to replace the current design, adopt the flag to fly beside the current design or keep the current design.
Local graphic designer Steve Kodis formed the People’s Flag of Milwaukee after Roman Mars, the host of a popular design and architecture radio show called 99% Invisible, referred to the flag as “one of the biggest train wrecks” in flag design history during a broadcast last year.
The People’s Flag partnered with the nonprofit Greater Together Milwaukee to host design workshops at schools and after school clubs around the city over the past year to encourage poor, especially minority, students to consider a career in design. The competition received more than 1,000 design submissions. Most were submitted by Milwaukeeans, but a few were mailed in by foreign flag aficionados in Australia and Europe.