Where Are You From?

A Flag for Me

Emigrant: a person who leaves their own country in order to settle permanently in another.

This particular image of Pangea1 image made the rounds over a decade ago and has always stuck with me as a powerful idea given form. A world that is seemingly freed from natural borders. Squint a little and you can almost completely imagine the manmade borders blending away into nothingness. This is the world that I wished existed with respect to allowing people a way to roam and discover and make better lives for themselves.

When everything is interconnected, there is no possible way for you to be able to patrol or even try and control borders. It would be a completely useless exercise, in the way that Europe discovered back in 2015.

How would this world have developed differently with these new proximities and new borders. Imagine having the opportunity to travel across Pangea. What an incredible tapestry of human discovery that would allow. Then imagine the connectivity that would be possible. Would the world feel smaller or larger? Would we feel more connected or distant to each other?

At this moment in our collective existence, Earth does not resemble Pangea. Earth is separated by oceans, rivers and mountains. Humanity broke through these barriers, first across the sea and then in the air. Sadly humanity then decided to build other barriers in their place. First in the form of barricades walls and more recently in the form of paperwork and immigration laws.

To create a sense of unity for a collection of people, boundaries were drawn on a map and a flag is drawn high in the air to help those feel further connected. It’s a strong and emotive piece of design that connects a culture and represents ideologies and shared histories. People rally around the flag because it helps them visualise something otherwise nebulous and difficult to explain. Us. This flag represents Us, not them.

As I have travelled the world, I have moved increasingly further away from the flags (and cultures) of my childhood. For a while I hoped to adopt a flag from any one of the countries I have lived in, only to realise that this was ultimately a futile effort. As my time in each country drew to an end so did the flags glow in my life.

For years I have wanted a flag to rally around that I can take with me wherever I went. A flag for emigrants like myself. During the last decade, a couple of new flag designs have been released to great fanfare that ultimately did not fulfil this gap for me.

The Refugee Nation Flag

When it was released a few years ago, I thought that the refugee flag perfectly captured the essence of something that anyone escaping their country on a boat would forever relate to. Clearly however this particular flag was not something that really represented my pampered emigration lifestyle.

As much as I love this design and what it means, it is not my flag.

The International Flag of Planet Earth (IFPE)

I was excited for a while to see the International Flag for Planet Earth making the rounds several years ago. However the purpose of the flag, while novel and awesome, addressed a purpose I was not looking for. This is for a future Star Trek world that has moved beyond some of the very basic issues that we are currently grappling with back here on Earth.

I love the deep blue colour. The symbology in the middle however is a little lost on me. It’s not emotive enough to capture my imagination (in say the same way that the Olympic rings definitely do, although I certainly prefer the monochrome rings rather than the original coloured version).

This flag was also something that didn’t address my needs either.

The Emigrants Flag

For years I would refer to myself as a serial immigrant. While this is true, this is seen from the viewpoint of those welcoming me to their land. Along my travels I have also heard the expat term being used as well. Both terms have also rubbed me the wrong way.

From my own perspective, I have settled on the fact that I am a proud serial emigrant. A subtle nuance that likely nobody really cares about but one that I am more than happy to make and shout about.

And so, I challenged myself to create a flag that represents people like me. People who look to break through both natural and manmade boundaries and barriers that have been erected. A flag that represents people that move from one country boundary to the next. A flag that represents emigrants.

This flag is not intended for a state with borders. This flag is meant to be flown by those of us who travel the Earth, emigrating from one place to another.

What does the flag stand for?

The flag itself is represented by 3 specific design elements:

  1. The Colour
  2. The Compass
  3. The Angle

The Colour Blue

The colour blue signifies freedom. The freedom to move and the freedom to travel across the world.

The colour blue also signifies our planet. It signifies the blue seas and blue skies of travel that allow you to make significant moves as an emigrant.

Going for a blue colour was not a difficult decision. While I did play around with a few colour ideas, the only question in my mind was what shade of blue I would decide upon. I did consider playing around with gradients, but that would likely break a few vexillological rules. It’s not the first blue coloured flag in the world, and certainly not the first with white accents on it. I did flirt with the idea of having it a darker blue but felt it gave off too much of a Scotland vibe which is not what I was looking for.

In the end I decided to concentrate on the colours that calms me the most. The blue you see on a clear day. Not a cloud in the sky. The future beckoning you to explore the world that you live in.

The Compass

The pointed cross symbolises the 4 points on a compass, North, East, South and West, signifying the ability to choose your path and overall destinations.

An important consideration for the design was replicating iconic flags like the Swiss flag. It has a design element that is bold, strong and easy to identify from far away. Contrast plays an important role in helping define the design. The key element on the flag went through several iterations. Originally I was considering using a circle to identify the Earth itself with the angle (more on this in a bit) creating an interesting juxtaposition of shapes and colours.

The issue was this it just was not iconic in any way. It did not offer the same level of contrast. I quickly settled onto adding a compass element. Testing this out with an 8 point star, this felt busy. Keeping it to 4 points felt right, but at the same time, too simple. It did not bring with it enough of a story. This is where I combined the best of the original ideas with the new compass element and put the compass at an angle (I promise I’m getting there).

The final piece was moving away from an abstract compass, into something that was a little more explicit. Adding the internal elements of a compass was something that was subtle enough but provided the right amount of character to make it crystal clear what the design was representing.

The final piece of the puzzle was deciding on the size of the compass itself. My original thought was to split the entire flag in half, thus accentuating the angle itself. Making this smaller looked better, as it better expressed that the world can stretch in all directions.


How do you encompass everyone on the planet and their cultures that differ to vastly? By including a 23.4° angle. This angle mirrors the Earth’s axial tilt. One of the most important elements of science in our world that gives us our seasons and many (most?) of our cultural ideas. The angle is a celebration of our Earth and importantly the culture that we have created based on the gifts that it has provided.

Use and Licenses

Ultimately I want this symbol to be used by a community of Emigrants, like myself. I imagine a time when I will be able to offer physical representations of this design that can be used proudly.

My intention is to release this under a Creative Commons license, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International.

I will be sharing all the files soon with a set of ways to use it proudly and spark the conversation.

My ultimate wish is that maybe sometime in the future we can live in a world that while does not represent Pangea physically, at least is open for people to travel freely. A place that represents the ideals of this flag. A place where I can finally answer the question, ‘Where are you from?’, with the simple answer, ‘I’m from here. I’m from Earth.’

  1. Pangaea means ‘all the lands’. ↩︎