by Jacob Etter
Researching historical Iowa license plates, I was inspired by the simplicity and recurring yellow and black color palette used at multiple points throughout history. In addition to being featured on a wide variety of items in Iowa, from signage to university colors and so on, yellow (or gold) serves as a great representation of agriculture (corn specifically, Iowa’s largest crop). The current plates feature a sketched farm illustration (with a somewhat ominous city outline looming over it in the background), but as Iowa is also prized for its technology and manufacturing output, I represented those in illustration along the bottom in addition to a farm.

I also resurrected some state iconography absent from the current plates – the state motto as well as a redrawn eagle/banner illustration pulled from the flag and state seal. Secondary elements are depicted in a subtle, slightly darker gold so as to not overly complicate the design or impair legibility from a distance. The current plates use up space with individual county names on the bottom, so I redesigned the stickers to feature this information (county number and abbreviation on the second sticker), creating balance and a more unified plate design that could be used for the entire state.
State Plates Project by Jonathan Lawrence ⓒ 2014