Meet the Finalists: Jon Grider

We thought we’d spend some time getting to know the “designers” behind their flag creations and why they believe in helping inspire our city of Milwaukee. We took a moment to interview them so you could learn something too and vote for the flag that inspires you

Jon Grider family

Name: Jon Grider
Occupation: Creative Director / Art Director at Nonbox
Years lived in Milwaukee: Born and bred, raised 3 kids and worked most of my career here (let’s just say I feel younger than the calendar states).


  1. How do you think a new flag (by the people for the people) will inspire Milwaukee? How do you think it will help grow Milwaukee?

We’re surrounded by graphic symbols and branding all around us. If a city flag does indeed represent one of the graphic elements in the overall branding of a place, I think an update here is long overdue. Milwaukee is a vibrant, creative community, fully aware of its historical significance, but is also moving forward and getting better. A new flag with a fresh, contemporary graphic, that also has legs to extend in other media, can and will make an inspiring impact in our city…and beyond. And the fact that the design variations were done ‘by and for the people’, I think adds to the level of city pride. That one of our own – who was born and raised here, who lives here, experiences and loves this city, will possibly earn a winning flag design with the people’s vote …is pretty special.

  1. What experiences or thinking (design related or not) helped you make the choices for this entry?

I first did my homework: a re-fresher on Milwaukee history, culture, geography, maps, architecture, etc. Then researched other city/state/national flags to see what design elements worked (and didn’t work). With some general ideas in mind, I put pencil to paper with small/thumbnail sketches to start. Then worked any spare time I had on the computer for the next few weeks (thank you Nonbox!). I’ve designed a lot of logos in my career, so I had to get past designing a Milwaukee logo, trying to dig deeper into symbolism and not be too literal. I created dozens of designs and explored multiple color options for each. With helpful critiques from my friend ‘D’ (who first told me about the ‘People’s Flag’ project and is also a flag finalist) and input from my family, I boiled it down to the 5 entry limit. My entry that was chosen for the finals actually came late in the design process, after I got all the over-designed options out of my system. Even though it looks like a pretty simple design that was easy to do, it probably wouldn’t have come about if I hadn’t put in the all the time on the rest.

  1. What emotions would you use to describe your flag design? Why these emotions?

I hope that my flag design evokes a sense of pride in my fellow Milwaukee-ins. This city is a great place to be and there is so much to be proud of here, as we continue to grow and improve together. The flag’s star represents our thriving city filled with historic charm, that reaches out and connects with nature and the Great Lake we share.

By Drew Lettner
Published May 31, 2016
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