studio catherine griffiths



above: 98 Flags / October 9th, 2015 / download the jpeg or high-res pdf



above: A Statement / August 18th, 2015




Flag suggestion: perspective sketch (submitted into the main referendum, July 16th, 2015)



Flag suggestion: curve asymmetrical



Flag suggestion: curve



Flag suggestion: curve askew



Flag flying and drape test: curve askew in colour

Raising the flag


These drawings emerged over months of background contemplation while observing the flag debate, amidst scepticism about political agendas, and the spectacular omission of designers (and artists) in a costly process that appears to exclude participation and critique by the profession. After being encouraged to join the design jury, with Desna Whaanga-Schollum and Mark Pennington, on Gareth Morgan’s design my flag competition, I saw an opportunity to help raise awareness, and give extended voice to design ... (further reading: Gareth’s views / judges’ comments).

But back to the sketches. For what it was worth, and at the last minute, I entered a flag design into the government referendum with A Perspective (top drawing). Intended for interpretation by the viewer, this and the Curve variations are my attempts to elicit a feeling, an atmosphere, rather than prescribe the impossible “all things to all”. References can be made to Sound Tracks, the second in the vowel series, and among other work, this poster, 36°50′25.50″S 174°44′23.53″E / 50 Volcanoes.

But back to the referendum, caught between ambivalence and wanting to kick-ass, both a form of protest against smoke and mirrors, meant it was a casual comment out of left field that pushed me into the final hours. What the heck. Bruce waved his four long pennants’ worth — any one of the four can be merged, but only with each other, into the government referendum, and I sent in the perspective drawing, just before the deadline. I’m happy for the curve to have wound up sitting on the sidelines, where it can watch and still be seen. After sleeping on it, the following morning I drew up the curve askew version. It will never be merged, and that’s plenty enough for me.


/ CG, July 2015


A note on the drawings:

How the curve began and shifted, with colour variations (below), is touched on, but require more time to develop. The smallest shift in proportion, composition and colour can alter legibility, context and meaning significantly — no easy task, and especially where symbolism is concerned. The movement and stillness when flown and draped was tested on Colour tests made in black and white; and black, white and red.

That a child can draw a flag from memory is too simplistic a criteria: America’s stars and stripes would rarely be drawn accurately, yet it is recognisable in the hand of most who know this flag. Here, it would be the concept of stripes with a curved line drawn through, then coloured-in, in opposites, making the pattern. A useful test would be to take the flag designs, such as those in the referendum, and see what happens when interpreted by hand. Another test is to place the flag design into a sea of world flags, and see how how we might look — and stand apart.



Curve, centred — starting point which led to the following variations:



Curve, asymmetrical






Curve, askew



A perspective


... a tad hard to resist, the Keyboard flag

Game over? Not quite.


03 other in(ter)ventions

an international typography symposium, Wellington, NZ

typ gr ph c
a series of compact workshops, Karekare, NZ

installations, exhibitions

7/7, 14 views
Te Tuhi Project Wall, 2023, Aotearoa NZ

Shanghai Art and Design Exhibition, 2017, CHINA

A whakapapa, two lines of women, an installation drawing
All Lines Converge, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, 2016, NZ

Installation with mirror and line
transitionalfieldwork, an exhibition, 2016, NZ

only U know ...
collaboration, Lela Jacobs AW17 Auckland, and SS17 Paris collection, NZ + FR

installation, Typojanchi 2015, 4th International Typography Biennale, Seoul, KR

The Tuwhare Poster Project
fund-raiser for the Hone Tuwhare Trust Writers Residency, NZ

memento :: motif
Proyecto de Arte Contemporáneo Alzheimer, Valparaíso, Chile

The Phone Book
a maquette, for the Club de Conversation project

Club de Conversation at S/F with Dino Chai, Auckland, NZ

Club de Conversation: Keyhole Series and Dials
rug series, Dilana Workshop, NZ

Sound Tracks
installation, The Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt, NZ

The Jets
short film, Paris, France


posters, protest, statements

The Best Design Awards
three posters, 2018, NZ

Labour of Love
another word-play poster, 2018, NZ

W in black
drawings in progress, 2017, NZ/FR

The Alphabet
front page takeover of the Sentinel & Enterprise newspaper for 26 days, Fitchburg, USA

The Brexit Series
a word-play poster series in response to Brexit

Raising the Flag
contemplative, suggestive — design unravelled, NZ

Protest Vessel 1/2 PRICE
a collaboration with ceramic artist Raewyn Atkinson, NZ


Raising the flag, Aotearoa New Zealand


98 FLAGS: 12 designers and artists select from 10,000+ flags.

This is not a solution, but a visual statement.

In the wake of the announcements by the Flag Consideration Panel of the Government Referendum, Sarah Maxey (graphic artist) and Catherine Griffiths (designer and typographer) put a call out to designers and artists to make their own selection as individuals, based on a criteria of their own wishes, independently, as people of Aotearoa New Zealand. The result identified flags that were worth considering had political agendas been put aside, and representatives from the design, art and vexillology disciplines had been included.

Arch McDonnell & Toby Curnow (designers, joint) / Matthew Galloway (graphic designer & lecturer) / Sarah Maxey (graphic artist) / Neil Pardington (artist & designer, Kāi Tahu, Kāti Mamoe, Kāti Waewae, Pākeha) / Dan Newman (designer) / Bruce Connew (photographer) / Desna Whaanga-Schollum (designer & artist) / Catherine Griffiths (designer & typographer) / Lisa Reihana (artist) / Thomas Le Bas (designer & vexillologist) / Dr Johnson Witehira (designer & academic) / Kelvin Soh (graphic designer & publisher).

There were no rules, no prescription (vexillology, graphic design, or otherwise) and no pre-determined number. Those who accepted the call are represented in this poster across the 12 columns in a chronological sequence (first submission through to last received, left to right). This is a raw selection, unedited, openly presented. The most common flags are displayed top-most, move vertically downwards to a cross-section of single choices across the myriad designs. There is no other hierarchy or intervention. The resulting selection is intended as an alternative view—grouped thematically, roughly in such a way that the information fits together, and remains simple. All but two presented were eliminated by the FCP from their longlist, and none made the first shortlist. One design has been nominated from outside the referendum.

Catherine and Sarah would like to acknowledge and thank the people who designed the flags presented in this poster.

/ October 2015


download the jpeg or high-res pdf / view on FaceBook

posted October 9th, 2015


A Statement, prompted by the shortlist of 40 designs presented by the Flag Consideration Panel.

posted August 18th, 2015


Flag suggestions. A Perspective (top sketch) in black and white was submitted into the referendum. The Curve variations were not submitted (and nor was the Keyboard). Copyright and IP remain with SCG.

posted July 16th, 2015

related links

Figures of Speech


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