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Designer of new Minnesota state seal "honored" the commission chose his work

Meet the designer of Minnesota’s new state seal
Meet the designer of Minnesota’s new state seal 01:54

MINNEAPOLIS — Ross Bruggink is a designer by trade. So, when the state commission tasked with choosing a new flag and seal solicited ideas, his vision came to him pretty quickly.

It started as doodles on a piece of paper. But then those ideas transformed into a state seal design — one with a loon prominently in its center — that won over many Minnesotans and the panel.

"I felt like from the beginning it was a very prominent, very proud seal that had a pretty striking balance of simplicity and pride," Bruggink told WCCO in an interview.

A view of the state seal finalist. 

The commission narrowed the top five finalists to just Bruggink's design during its meeting this week, subject to small tweaks to some of the elements on it — like whether or not the state's motto "L'Etoile du Nord" will be included or the shape of the star.

Now he's focusing on those "minute details" and will resubmit revisions to the commission, which will meet again next Tuesday. But the core pieces of the seal will stay and it will officially debut next May along with the flag, which members haven't yet agreed on.  

Bruggink said he's honored to have the opportunity to create something so meaningful. And Minnesotans are passionate about the process—the commission said it received over 20,000 comments online about both the seal and flag finalists.

"It was the only one with a loon on there. So based on public reaction, it felt like it was a contender," he said of his design, acknowledging the feedback.

The commission said comments were overwhelmingly positive, prompting members to choose it over the four other ideas.

"People are passionate about this, which is a good sign. And I'm excited that this will be here for the state for years to come," Bruggink added.

His flag design made it to the top six finalists for that symbol's revamp. The commission will focus on making a top choice from that slate of options at its next meeting. In that design, he opted from a star instead of a loon.

"We're the North Star State. So it makes a lot of sense to use that. It feels a little bit more all-encompassing," he explained.

A new flag and seal must be chosen by the end of the year with the designs submitted in a report to the state legislature. Then the old ones will retire and the new designs will make their debut on Statehood Day on May 11.

Why is Minnesota changing its flag and seal? 

The current flag is the state seal on a blue background with Minnesota's name on it.

The seal's been criticized for its imagery of a white settler plowing the land as a Native American on horseback rides off into the distance. Others say it violates the tenets of "good flag design," which values simplicity with meaningful symbols.  

This year, the DFL-led legislature created the State Emblems Redesign Commission, a 13-member voting panel that includes non-voting lawmakers, to overhaul the designs.

They've been meeting many times this fall and Minnesotans got a chance to submit their visions for the future flag and seal for the members to consider.  

The current flag originated in 1957, while the current seal has been in use since 1861.

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