Fourth of July Redesign Challenge


Friday, July 02, 2010

Across the land listeners answered our call to rethink these American symbols. Pop music critic Will Hermes suggests replacements for the national anthem. Kate Bingaman-Burt enlists her design students to take part in our Uncle Sam Redesign Challenge. And design writer Alissa Walker picks a winner.


Slideshow: The Winner and Runners-up

James Montgomery Flagg

Uncle Sam, circa 1916. Studio 360 asked listeners to come up with an updated version of the United States’ national spokesperson.

Brendan Condit

For first place in Studio 360’s Uncle Sam Redesign Challenge, judge Alissa Walker selected the "What You Can Do" series by Brendan Condit.

Brendan Condit

Condit chose four professions that inspire citizens to become active members of society.

Brendan Condit

Condit’s redesign asks Americans to take part in key civic responsibilities.

Brendan Condit

Walker liked how the "What You Can Do" series is not as scary as the original Uncle Sam’s "I Want You."

Brendan Condit is a real website set up by The Corporation for National and Community Service to help people find volunteer opportunities in their communities.

Nicole Lavelle

The runner-up in Studio 360’s Uncle Sam Redesign Challenge: "Kid America" by Nicole Lavelle.

Colby Brooks

Design teacher Kate Bingaman-Burt’s favorite entry from her students came from Colby Brooks.

Composition and Lyrics by Robert Schneider. Copyright 2010 The Elephant 6 Publishing Co (ASCAP). Administered by Pacific Electric Music.

Robert Schneider of the indie-pop band The Apples in stereo wrote music and lyrics for an alternative national anthem, "Beauty of America." Listen to the song.

    Music Playlist
  1. America The Beautiful
    Artist: The Apples in stereo
    Album: n/a
    Label: Performed live in Studio 360
  2. This Land is Your Land
    Artist: Woody Guthrie
    Album: This Land is Your Land: The Asch Recordings, Vol. 1
    Label: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
    Purchase: Amazon
  3. Living in America
    Artist: James Brown
    Album: Living in America
    Label: Volcano
    Purchase: Amazon
  4. See the USA
    Artist: Dinah Shaw
    Album: n/a
    Label: Commercial jingle for General Motors
  5. America The Beautiful
    Artist: Ray Charles
    Album: America The Beautiful
    Label: Madacy Records
    Purchase: Amazon


Kate Bingaman-Burt, Will Hermes and Alissa Walker

Comments [9]

Kerr Lockhart from Teaneck NJ

This slideshow hardly works! It's very hard to manipulate and it is dictating how I see the works. Why not simply put up thumbnails of the entries? And I agree with the other posters--more entries! As it is, I can't find the winning one described on the podcast.

Overall, this site is pretty poorly designed and hard to use. You keep talking on the podcast about your great website, but it's just not true. It could be a lot better.

Jul. 12 2010 10:39 AM
Christopher Price from Vermont

Although I generally enjoy Studio 360 very much, you have left me seriously disappointed with your 4th of July show.
You solicit alternative/contemporary versions of both our national mascot (Uncle Sam) and our national Anthem, then you fail to give any of the entries the dignity of a moment in the airing on the show you said would submit these possibilities to the listening public.
No critique, no discussion, not even a nod to the vision, the imagination and effort these creations entailed.
I don't care what Mr. Hermes likes. I thought I was going to listen to a panel of knowledgeable historians and musicologists comment on the appropriateness of the musical submissions. Instead...nothing. How rude!
The choice of image for the remaking of Uncle Sam was a trite portrayal of 4 characters chosen from a potential cast of millions, and the little white kid was an embarrassment in our multi-ethnic society. Rather an illustration of a coverall wearing Uncle Sam opening up multi-colored cans of paint and handing out tools for an army of multi-hued children to construct a new world with a hand painted rainbow taking shape above.
The whole concept for the show began with so much promise but failed so miserably in your hands.
Next time count me out.

Jul. 05 2010 06:00 PM
JGL from Long Beach, CA

I think if you continue to have further design challenges, it would be interesting to have a panel of judges, a diversity of opinions, rather than submit to a single persons' tastes and sensibilities no matter how august their reputation.

Alissa Walker seemed to be put off by anything even remotely critical, and aired almost on the side of naiveté--the What You Can Do series while succinct and nicely rendered reminds me of the facile servitude of the G.I. Joe cartoons--and America as a mild-mannered little blonde boy--well the irony seemed lost on her.

Jul. 04 2010 03:16 PM
Nobuski from USA

Kurt Andersen said "it may not be PC because the kid is white."

Mr. Andersen, this is the most ridiculous if not retarded thing I've heard. Are you suggesting white people aren't American and that it's inappropriate to include white people in our national identity?

You are out of your effin mind. Seriously, political correctness is a retarded way of thinking.

You either accept everybody or you're for none.

Jul. 04 2010 11:34 AM
Sally from New Haven

I'm not sure I fully understood this brief. For the Valentine's episode, the designers completely reimagined the cupid symbol, but this is a public service campaign which alludes to the original iconic poster. The designer did a great job, but he did not reinvent Uncle Sam.

Our country has been personified in different ways -- Columbia, Brother Jonathan, and the ultimate fashion-victim Yankee Doodle (a feather in the cap does not a macaroni wig make)...I was expecting the entries to be more along these lines.

How would America be personified now? A cowboy? A check-out girl? Including other races seems like a no-brainer.

Jul. 03 2010 07:24 PM
G. Bowman, Jr. from Maryland

While this Contest provided the opportunity for self-expression---and that is great---the idea of giving Uncle Sam a makeover is extremely challenging [since it was created during a time of World War to inspire, and solicit inclusive patronage], and in doing so one has to be sensitive and mindful to create something that allows representation of America, and its quilt of Peoples.

I can't draw a crooked line, but if I could, I would draw Uncle Sam; his face and hands a hodgepodge of colors, with both arms semi-circled, partially enveloping Old Glory, with super-imposures of women, men and children of all colors carefully, and skillfully embedded throughout the waving Flag---with the words---"Uncle Sam wants and needs all of you!"

Thanks for the opportunity...


Jul. 03 2010 01:50 PM
Ross Martin from Washington, DC

I liked the winning series; it does a nice job of taking the original Uncle Sam metaphor and opening it up to more people and more notions of what service to our nation really means.

My only negative comment is that, when I first saw the military version, it looked like the soldier was wearing a suicide bomber vest, so I actually thought it was one of the many dystopian submissions trying to show irony. It was only in the context of the other pictures that I understood it to be a flack jacket. I'm sure the vest is representative of a real piece of army attire, but might suggest a slight redesign to keep it from being negatively perceived.

I hope this gets picked up and used! Nice work!

Jul. 03 2010 12:39 PM
Jenny from Studio 360

Hi Rachael --

Sorry to disappoint! We thought all the entries were popping up in the embedded flickr slideshow above.

Here's the link to a flickr page with all the entries:

Thanks for letting us know,

Jul. 03 2010 12:23 PM
Rachael from San Antonio Tx

I am upset to see that all the entrys are not available to be seen. my friend Amanda had entries, and although she didnt win I would like to have seen them. Many of the ones that cycle thru the slide show are poor quality and I cant see what led to your disicion making on what to leave.

Jul. 03 2010 08:27 AM

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