A lifetime ago, the American license plate was a work of art. A beautiful union of typography and design elements, cast in metal. Each state used simple, significant details, like state landmarks, state birds and flowers, or even the shape of the state, to evoke a sense of pride and place.

Over the years, the growth of technology, computers, and 4-color printing allowed designs to become more complex and include unnecessary elements, like website URLs. More efficient production methods meant plates could be made more cheaply, and quality declined.

Today, from furniture to phones, good design is more prevalent than ever. Yet most licenses plates still seem like they were designed decades ago on an archaic computer. We’re here to change that.

50 designers. 50 states. 50 plates. 

Our hope is to bring the qualities of what once worked so well, to the present, and to start a conversation about the future of license plate design.


1. Functional
The license plate should quickly identify the vehicle and where it’s from.

2. Meaningful
The license plate should highlight or draw inspiration from the history and character of it’s own state.

3. Distinct
The license plate should be unique enough so that it is not confused with plates from another state.


AAA Magazine
AIGA – Eye On Design
Chicago SunTimes
Chicago Tribune
Design You Trust
Fast Company
IL Post
Paste Magazine


State Plates Project was created in 2014, by graphic designer Jonathan Lawrence, in collaboration with industry colleagues. 


Aaron Draplin
Aaron Eiland
Adam Dixon
Alana Louise
Alex Fuller
Alex Rinker
Allan Peters
Andrew Boice
Andrew Colin Beck
Andy Luce
Anthony Lane
Ben Stafford
Bethany Heck
Brian Nelson
Brit Blankenship
Casey Martin
Colin Miller
David Sizemore
Drew Roper
Evan Huwa
Halftone Def
Jacob Etter
Jay Fletcher
Jay Roberts
Jeremiah Britton
Jessie Farris
Jesus Cardenas
John Custer
Jonathan Lawrence
Jordan Butcher
Joshua Miranda
Justin Pervorse
Kyle Poff
Luke Williams
Matt Chase
Mike McQuade
Nate Utesch
Noah Jacobus
Ryan Putnam
Sam Wood
Scott Allen Hill
Sean Ryan Cooley
Simon Sok
Tim Cook
Tim Frame
Timo Meyer
Travis Ladue
Zach Graham
Zack Davenport

State Plates Project by Jonathan Lawrence ⓒ 2014