True Colors

How do the United States flags look when data decides their designs?

A visual experiment that evaluates the evolving graphic symbolism of the United States, True Colors is a collection of flags generated from the 2016 American Community Survey. Each flag is based on data specific to its state, and provides information at a glance.

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Familiar visuals, enhanced meaning.

A common graphic language is shared across the flags, making it easy to see similarities and differences between the states. How do flags in the same geographic area compared to those in another part of the country? Do beliefs about disparities between coastal states and the midwest hold up? Many of the flags look exactly as you'd expect, but some may come as a surprise.

Most existing flags share the same common visual cues: stripes, circles or polygons, and stars. You’ll find these familiar components in the flags of True Colors as well but their color, size, shape, and position are all determined by data.





Reflecting the present and future of the US.

Each layer of the flag corresponds to subjects that provide an informative snapshot of life in that state. The background visualizes population, the stripe shows housing, the circle or polygon represents economics, and the star indicates education.

The flags you see currently won’t always be representative of the United States. The country is always evolving, and certain attributes that are relevant this year will probably be drastically different a decade from now. If a state changes over time, shouldn’t its flag? As new data is released, the flags can be updated to ensure they always provide an accurate portrayal of the state they stand for.