License Plates Turned Into Coolest Design Invitation

How do you know when you’ve officially “made it” as a designer? Forget winning prestigious design awards, having your work featured in coveted magazines, or even scoring the biggest clients.

We’re talking license plates, baby!

In a wild attempt to woo designer/typographer Jessica Hische to speak at Pennsylvania’s Society of Design, Lancaster-based Go Welsh design studio conceived literally one of the most moving invitations ever. They motivated nearly 30 design residents to actually change their legal license plates to letters that spell out a proposal to Hische. (A pretty impressive feat considering anything D.M.V.-related is anything but a joyride). The results? Now emblazoned across 27 designer-driven PA vehicles reads the following:

Image Courtesy Go Welsh/ Society of Design

We snagged a quick Q&A with the project’s driving creative force Craig Welsh for a peek at his  journey in bringing this crazy concept to fruition.

So we have to ask – why license plates?
Welsh: We wanted to design something that was clearly associated with Pennsylvania since Society of Design is in PA and Jessica grew up and went to college here. The bottom of each plate also includes a subtle ‘visitPA’ which is exactly what we were asking her to do.

Image Courtesy Go Welsh

What was it like to convince all those folks to change their license plates?
Welsh: Challenging. Lengthy. Awkward. Confusing. Exciting. Initially, I didn’t explain much to the participants – just that they were being asked  “…to be part of something amazing.” I felt the less they knew, the more likely we could pull it off. The project took more than three months, but we just kept at it until we had enough people convinced.

Wouldn’t it have been easier to just Photoshop fake it?
Welsh: Photoshop is easy. No real effort to do that. We can say, “Jessica, we’d really like you to visit” or we could prove it. It had to be unlike anything anyone’s seen before. Society of Design tries to elevate design discourse. You can’t elevate something unless you push limits.

Did you hit any speed bumps working with the Department of Transportation?
Welsh: Four of the initial plates were denied for potentially offensive language – requiring an afternoon rewrite to keep the project on course. As a side note, several people involved in the project now have new (non-offensive) nicknames they’ve adopted: ISH MOTI, WILL AMA, IDER VIS.

Image Courtesy Go Welsh

So what was Hische’s response to all this effort?  Along with tears and oodles of appreciation, she shared a super-resounding, “YES! I will marry come visit you!” on her blog last week.


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7 thoughts on “License Plates Turned Into Coolest Design Invitation

  1. Chuck

    Maybe picking up the phone and just asking might have worked. I’m not discounting the idea here – just seems like a lot of unnecessary work time and cost involved considering what the objective was (getting someone to come and speak). It sounds like it was a great deal of fun for those involved – so hat’s off to you:)

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