As Duluth Officials Receive Flag Designs, One Designer Won’t Submit His

Nicky Sunsdahl, designer of the 'Tilt Town Flag' objects to the city's ability to make changes and additions to flag designs

DULUTH, Minn. – The City of Duluth has put out a call for design ideas for a new city flag.

But one local flag creator won’t submit his design. He doesn’t think the city’s process by committee will bring a better flag.

Nicky Sunsdahl designed the ‘Tilt Town’ flag last summer.

“That was kind of last year’s art project,” said Sunsdahl. “Now I’m doing plaster casters of deer antlers.”

His design is an abstract representation of Duluth’s landscape.

“It’s a green triangle and a blue trapezoid on the rectangle,” he describes.

Sunsdahl was excited when the city opened their flag submission process online, but a disclaimer upset him.

“So I went to go do it and I read the fine print and they said they reserve the right to take your design and then combine it or change it with other things and I thought well that’s completely ridiculous,” he said.

He believes bringing in multiple opinions will only complicate the city’s flag design, making it busy and unrecognizable.

“You’d probably be better off just letting a dog design the flag or something,” quipped Sunsdahl.

The city has received about fifteen designs so far and many other survey responses detailing what Duluthians want to see on the flag.

“A number of people mentioning the outdoor space we have here, the hillside, Lake Superior of course. We have seen some lift bridge,” said Mollie Hinderaker, a planner technician for the city.

Hinderaker says a committee will judge the designs before the public is asked to vote on the finalists.

“It’s a project that was brought to us from the community and we’d like and we’d like to keep it in the community court,” she said.

That’s why Sunsdahl has made the Tilt Town flag available to everybody and is asking the public to make their own.

“We’re just calling it the people’s flag because it’s not about me,” said Sunsdahl. “I’m not enriching myself. There’s no money to be had. I just made it because I thought it was a good idea and I’m passing it on to the people.”

He says flying your own flag, not waiting for an official city design, is what living in a free country is all about.

“You’ve got your American flag on the porch and you can fly whatever other city flag you want,” said Sunsdahl. “There’s designs available and if you don’t like the tilt town flag, make your own flag and fly that flag and maybe you don’t even need a flag, I don’t know. How many people fly flags these days anyways?”

City Administration hopes to have a flag selected by July. They would then pass it onto the city council for approval shortly after that.

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