six colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

Linked by Jason Snell

The sad state of state plates

California License Plate

A couple of times a year my family piles in the car and we drive to Phoenix to visit my mom. That’s a lot of road time. And while iPads make the journey a little less boring for the kids, we do a lot of staring out at the road and entertaining ourselves by, among other things, spotting license plates from various states. (Even in the west, where states are few and far between, you’d be surprised about how many out-of-state plates you can find on the freeway if you look closely.)

In any event, all this plate-watching has taught me that there are a lot of crappy license-plate designs out there. First, there are the boring designs—California’s is especially a snooze. And then there are the inexplicable website addresses, appended… why exactly? California plates have a “dmv.ca.gov” on them, apparently to remind you where you got your license plate. Florida’s, on the other hand, don’t even say Florida. They say “MyFlorida.com.” I’m not kidding.

In any event, John Brownlee profiled the State Plates Project for Fast Co.Design:

For the State Plates Project, Lawrence approached designers from every state, and challenged them to redesign their automobile tags according to classier design principles. “It was important to me that the designer was passionate about the state they were working on,” he says.

I’m sure there are designers who work for state governments and have not yet had all the passion ground out of them. But you will not be surprised to discover that when you give designers free rein to make cool license-plate designs, they make cool license-plate designs.