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One of the three colorized versions of Michael C. Rodriguez's proposed Bayou City banner.

Can you describe the City of Houston flag? Chances are you can’t—probably because you’ve never seen it, probably because it’s ugly and boring. Sorry. It had to be said.

Houston, we can do better. We need a flag that’s as idiosyncratic and animated as the city itself; an iconic, unforgettable flag that makes you do a double-take every time you see it flapping in the high Houston wind; a flag that says to the rest of America, “WHAT.”

To that end, we asked four of our city’s artists to go nuts and build the banner of their dreams—the wilder, the better. After all, Houston doesn’t conform to anyone else’s expectations for giant cities, so why should our flag? Salute!

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1) Taft McWhorter

Folk artist Taft McWhorter offers up what’s best described as a Houston-ized Texas flag. “The Houston skyline morphs into the bayou and our beautiful green space with the path and trees,” he explains. “This piece represents our history, tradition and our growth as a community,” most notably the growth of Buffalo Bayou from neglected waterway to newly minted civic treasure.

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2) Katharine Kearns

“No reimagining of the Houston flag could be complete without representing our loony weather: hot, cold, wet and sunny all in one day,” says designer Katsola®. She’s also included friendly characters from her well-known Houston-area murals—such as Nadeshiko the squid, who’s hugging the Broken Obelisk outside Rothko Chapel—and, of course, banh mi and pho.

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3) Rongrong Devoe

“My design is inspired by the galaxy, as we know NASA is a signature place when visiting Houston,” says Rongrong Devoe, a local fashion illustrator originally from China. “The different constellations represent the rodeo and oil derricks.” In other words, this is the flag you could show off to visitors wondering where all of Houston’s cowboys and astronauts are.

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4) Michael Rodriguez

After realizing he’d “need 10 flags to capture the diversity and expansive cultures in Houston,” Michael Rodriguez, a multimedia designer known for his large-scale, commissioned graffiti works, finally settled on the distinguished downtown skyline, a few escaped Houston Zoo animals, the space shuttle and a trusty taco.

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