Draw me a country

I recently led a 5 days workshop with first year students from e-artsup Nantes. In teams of four, they had to create a realistic and credible country. Next, they had to create the visual identity of the nation (flag or coat of arms) and its government (logo), as well as a tourist brochure and stamps. Nice challenge for first year students, especially since this work was done remotely, because we were in confinement.


First, I showed the students flags and various government identities, such as that of France, that of the image of Sweden abroad (Söderhavet), the Dutch government (Studio Dumbar), the region of Vestland Flykeskomumne (Neue) ...

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Then, I showed different visual identities of imaginary countries like Borduria and Syldavia, the Khemed in The adventures of Tintin, the dystopian England of V for Vendetta, the Groland of Canal + or even the Palombia of the adventures of Spirou and Fantasio. These imaginary countries all have specific characteristics, like the accents of the border alphabet or its license plates.

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The first day of this workshop was devoted to a phase of research and design of this country only in the form of text and map at first. Students had to define all aspects of their nation: geography (climate, landscape, location), History, politics and administration, population and society (language, demography, religions), economy (main sectors of activity), Culture ... This very detailed description helped the students to create the resulting graphic supports. Here is an overview of the countries imagined by the different student groups below (in addition to other stamps, a 16-page brochure, a presentation document ...):


The legend of Céline, Samantha, Arthur and Kenta tells that a giant manta ray, ancestor of all rays, would have met an underwater volcano in eruption with which it would have fused and given birth to this island. Initially populated by natives, this island was colonized by the English in 1748. In the 2000s, victim of real continents of floating waste, she decided to recycle marine litter. Its entire culture and economy is developed around recycling and respect for the environment.

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Maverick Island

This island imagined by Blandine, Gabin, Matthis and Mélanie was discovered by English navigators whose ship Maverick ran aground on the island in 1550 because of strong sea currents and dangerous reefs. Subsequently, this territory is divided into four regions: Emrox, Saphorca, Rubanther and Diameer, taking their names from the precious stones found there. The country prospered thanks to its situation of commercial crossroads between Asia and America.

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Éloi, Kateline, Matthias, Romain designed the Kéltimï archipelago consisting of five islands, the central island of which includes a volcano. This nation brings together both natives and English settlers, so it is bilingual. The country is managed by a council of five elected officials (one from each island) who are called "deans". The wealth of the archipelago comes from tourism, mineral extraction and especially the export of Moïichi, a fruit that is found only on this archipelago and which represents more than 10% of the national GDP.

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In the third century BC this island was inhabited by an indigenous people who suddenly disappeared, probably due to an illness. Anavíosi remains virgin of any human colonization during centuries considering its particular situation in the Bermuda Triangle. It was not discovered until 1980 by Henry Walton, a researcher who made this island a state solely dedicated to the preservation of nature and scientific research. Thanks to Timéo, Elsa, Ilan, Nathan, Margaux for this great story.

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Léonard, Cassandra, Augustin and Adam invented a theocratic dictatorship born at the death of Mao. Traditionalists, wishing to return to the foundations of Taoist culture, took advantage of the chaos of 1976 to declare their independence. The Tao (supreme leader) runs the country with an iron fist, helped by his nine ministers. Benefactor of the People, the Tao is the embodiment of the supreme being that all must strive to achieve physically, mentally and spiritually.

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Initially a British colony, the island of Azahowi became independent in 1843. Its official language was English but the Azahowi language continued. The Island has a great biodiversity and has protected species, both terrestrial and marine such as the Pacific porpoise, the dwarf kingfisher ... This country, invented by Lysiane, Julien, Matthieu, Maxime lives mainly from its natural resources and tourism.

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Minstjar kingdom

Inhabited by the Vikings, this Scandinavian country imagined by Malik, Isabelle, Thomas and Axel, freezes in its borders in the 11th century. Since then, no conquest of territory has been made because Minstjar has a non-expansionary policy, it also does not have an army. This parliamentary monarchy led by Bjorn III attaches great importance to the environment.

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Uninhabited for centuries, this archipelago was colonized by the English. A few years after this event, the population of Maori rejected by Australia took refuge on this archipelago. After conflicts with the already settled English, the two peoples finally managed to live in harmony. New-Shetland, imagined by Florence, Augustin, Kenzo and Félix, is part of the Commonwealth.

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The Nahuatlacas / Aztlante people come from the Aztec civilization which survived the diseases brought by the conquistadors and which puts medicine and the happiness of the individual at the heart of its culture, and its social policy. Renowned around the world, Aztlan is managed by a triumvirate made up of members of the people drawn by lot. Kudos to Roxane, Quentin, Kevin and Laurine.

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This week-long worshop was a challenge: to make two different classes work together and at a distance on a project of creation, narration but also of visual identity and global design. Despite the many tasks to be carried out, the students were very involved, some even produced additional supports, driven by the subject and the group dynamics. From April 20 to 24, the world temporarily changed, thank you to the GE1 for their work and their involvement.

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Text and pictures: Thierry Fétiveau – May, 2020. All rights reserved.

Further reading:
– e-artsup
– Norwegian banknotes design proposals
– Earth flag proposal
– "Face au brand territorial" book, Ruedi Baur
– Article on european cities branding