Ab was given the nickname Abstract, Ab for short, by friends in school. Ab and his mother moved to Atlanta when Ab was seven years old, after the death of his father. Ab remembers sitting at his father's funeral looking at the flag on the coffin. When the flag was given to an older half-sister, whom Ab did not know, the little boy was tremendously disappointed. Ab began collecting cloth flags after that. For work Ab started out as a carpenter and builder. One day he looked at the walls of his house and decided to make something to hang above the fireplace. He was in his front yard finishing a giant flag made from odds and ends from left over wood and moldings. A man drove by and asked if he could buy the flag for a party he was having for the Fourth of July. At first Ab said no, but when the man pulled out $75 cash, Ab sold it on the spot. The man came back after the party and asked Ab to make three more because his friends wanted to buy them. And so Ab Ivens became "Ab the Flagman" and he has made flags ever since. He has since adapted the same style that he uses in the flags to represent other subjects - eagles, guitars, broken hearts, and tremendous cityscapes.