Rainbow Flag Refresh: An Interview With Daniel Quasar, The Designer Behind “Progress: A Pride Flag Reboot”

by RISE Mag

June 29, 2018

Pride festivals and parades all over the world feature one prominent, universal symbol: The Rainbow Flag. The original, created in 1978 by San Francisco-based queer artist Gilbert Baker, started with 8 colors — all chosen with specific meanings:


Pink for sex
Red for life
Orange for healing
Yellow for sunlight
Green for nature
Turquoise for magic
Indigo for harmony
Violet for spirit.


The current version of the flag has six colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple), and now flies beside individual flags representing Transgender, Bisexual, Aromantic, Genderfluid, Nonbinary, Intersex, Pansexual, Genderqueer, and Asexual Pride. (See what each flag looks like here!)


Daniel Quasar is taking it a step further. Seeing how cities like Philadelphia and Seattle added new colors to the Pride flag, making it more inclusive of People of Color and additional LGBTQ+ identities, Quasar, a multimedia designer based in Portland, put them all together into one flag design. Starting a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to produce flags, stickers, pins, and tees with the rebooted design, he far surpassed his goal of raising $14K, reaching just over $25K.


As part of our Pride Toronto coverage, we got in touch with Daniel to hear more about the project.


Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your design background?


I graduated from Pacific Northwest College of Art with a BFA in Communication Design. My original focus was on multimedia and experience design, and that’s what I utilized in my thesis work. Before then, I was doing smaller level work involving things like branding and web design for local businesses in town. I used to be involved in the drag community here, so most of my clients were the bars I performed at, and the people I performed with on a regular basis. I slowly evolved my design practice, post-college, into more multimedia work involving video and motion graphics.


Eventually I worked on bigger projects like RuPaul’s Drag Race Battle of the Seasons and Christmas Queens World Tours, making videos and animations for their live performances. I’ve also gotten to work with Jinkx Monsoon on their latest tour. Basically, my design life has been rooted in the Queer community, and I couldn’t be happier to provide a service for people just like me. Not that I am opposed to working on things outside of the community, but sometimes it’s just really nice to work with the fam, ya know?


Can you explain your flag redesign — how you incorporated both the original stripes design, the arrow design, and colors representing specific identities?


I saw what Philly and Seattle were doing with the flag, and I wanted to see if I could improve on those ideas to help elevate the message. I wanted to keep the elements of those other designs, and so just worked on positioning them in different ways until something stuck that I felt had great impact. I have a folder with dozens of design variations that probably will never be seen!


I felt like the chevron/triangle design was a good way to say what the message of these new elements are, as well as achieve a good design aesthetic.


Where is the furthest place you’d received interest or a Kickstarter donation from?


I have received donations from Australia and even the South Pacific, which is just amazing to me! The donations now dot the world, and I just can’t fathom that level of reach. I’ve been making things for a long time with little-to-no reception outside of my city, so this happening at the rate it has, has been so amazing to see unfold.


What is your next step, after producing the first batch of flags from the donations?


I am still working out the details for where to go next, but I am hoping to continue to provide the opportunity for people to get the design, buy the flag, etc. But I am also interested (and have wanted this from the beginning) in establishing some way for me to give back to the community that has been so giving to me and my work. What that looks like, I am not entirely sure yet, but I’m looking at donation of future sales, etc.


Do you have a favorite Pride memory?


I enjoy every year when I am involved with Pride, and have tons of memories that are all equally good. I enjoy most the years I have volunteered to help run the festival. I get a lot of enjoyment out of watching other people have Pride, and show enjoyment in something I helped keep running.


What does Pride mean to you?


Pride to me means a chance to come together as a community, and see how far we’ve come. It’s not always enough, but we continue to show up and share with one another. Maybe it could be seen as a chance to rejuvenate ourselves to help power through the rest of the year. We build so much energy this time of year, and it’s a really magical time.


What can you tell us about Pride in Portland? What makes it unique?


Pride in Portland is still growing, and really fun. It’s not a small festival, but it’s also not huge like San Francisco, but we have our own unique flavor. We’ve been growing a lot in the last few years, and so I am really excited to see what happens next. I think something that is really special and unique in my eyes, are the amount of groups who come together to help produce an event for all the different people we have within our community. No joke, if you want to experience a certain thing during the weekend, there are probably more than a few events for your particular thing. I think that’s just awesome.


This interview has been edited for length and clarity.