You’ve probably seen the Bellingham flag, but have you ever stopped to wonder who made it? The answer is Bradley Lockhart, a local graphic designer, illustrator, and animator whose mission is to create meaningful designs that speak to place.
Lockhart has always been savvy when it comes to producing creative work with digital tools — he started editing videos and using Photoshop when he was just a teenager. Despite this precocious start, it was years before he learned graphic design was a viable career option.
Photo by Patrick Fore
“Where I grew up, [graphic design] wasn’t a word…not until I was probably 22 or 23 did someone tell me, ‘Graphic design is a thing, and you can get a college degree in it, and you’ve technically been doing it for, you know, like eight years already.'”
As a student at Whatcom Community College and then Western, Lockhart focused on art and design, taking breaks to pursue another passion: music. Today, Lockhart still plays in a local metal band called Dryland, and music remains a large part of his life.
The Bellingham Flag
Photo by Tommy Calderon
After more than 10 years of designing, Lockhart has made a name for himself in the Bellingham art community. The Bellingham flag is perhaps his most notable work, and for good reason. The popular, eye-catching design is simple but packed with meaningful symbolism.
The flag has two white stars, representing the Lummi and Nooksack tribes. Between the stars are three wavy lines, which stand for the Salish word “Whatcom,” meaning noisy waters. (If you orient the flag vertically, the lines become Whatcom Falls.) The four green stripes represent the area’s four original villages: Whatcom, Sehome, Bellingham, and Fairhaven. Combined, the images speak to the history and landscape of our home.
Like the best symbols, the Bellingham flag is more than just a flag — it’s a visual nexus point for the community to gather around. The flag’s Facebook page, which has thousands of followers, serves as a platform for local information, entertainment, and art. Lockhart also uses the page to raise money and awareness for local causes. In June, he raised $1,000 for the Seattle chapter of Black Lives Matter, all from a single day of flag sales.
Lockhart’s other notable designs include the Bellingham city seal — look for it on official city signs, vehicles, and paperwork — and the delightfully goofy Orca Face Flag.
Photo by Alexandra Niedzialkowski
When he’s not making art or music, Lockhart visits schools, using the Bellingham flag as a way to introduce young people to the diversity of creative careers available to them. He teaches students that the posters on the walls were designed by someone, and that “normal things in their lives were created by people thoughtfully and creatively.”
Evergreen Bandana Game
One of Lockhart’s newest projects is the Evergreen Bandana Game, a wearable Washington-themed bandana that doubles as a board game when you lay it flat. The portable game comes with custom dice and a rule book, making it perfect for campsite entertainment.
Lockhart meticulously designed the bandana on his iPad, which allowed him to fine-tune the illustrations. “I probably reillustrated each character six times until I was happy with the way they looked,” he says.
The game, advertised as an “illustrated adventure across Washington,” features notable landmarks like Mount Rainier and plays heavily off local knowledge and humor. For instance, a wrong roll of the dice at the ferry means you have no reservation and must drive all the way around. There’s also Highway 20, a dead-end route if the pass is closed.
Photo by Alexandra Niedzialkowski
“I’m trying to introduce some wildcard elements into the game to make it a little more fun and surprising, and make you want to play more than one time. There will be a certain novelty to this, but I’m hoping it has a return playability,” Lockhart says.
Already, the game’s appeal extends far beyond Bellingham. When I spoke to Lockhart in early summer, people in more than 13 countries had already ordered the game. As a result of this interest, Lockhart has considered creating other state-themed games, and possibly one for the whole U.S.
You can purchase your own Evergreen Bandana Game at nwcornergoods.com, where you’ll also find the Bellingham flag, along with an assortment of bandanas, pins, T-shirts, hats, stickers, patches, and more.
Medieval Goats and Moms on Icebergs
As for the future, Lockhart’s creative ideas seem limitless. He hopes to continue making place-themed art for Bellingham and possibly cities beyond state lines, too. He also plans to release an animated music video for his band that involves a goat travelling through a medieval landscape.
A few other projects occupy his creative queue, including an animated video about the first woman to live at the North Pole. This woman happens to be Lockhart’s mom, who was sent there in the 70s while studying marine biology at the University of Washington. Things took a turn when the plane sent to pick her up crashed, significantly extending her iceberg-based residency. Lockhart’s dream is to animate the tale while his mother does the voice-over narration.
For a sample of Lockhart’s animations and illustrations, visit lariatcreative.com.
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