Dept. of Bad Taste: TxDot’s New License Plates

Until the new plates arrived in the mail for the lovely and talented Christine Allison’s new car, I didn’t know that Texas had decided to redesign them. Oh, I had noticed them on other cars here and there, but I thought that those were just car owners with bad taste. Unfortunately, the bad taste is meant to spread over the entire state. In changing the 090603_texas_license_plate_2009license plates from old-style printing to digital production,  someone at TxDot decided to redesign the plates from scratch. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a good redesign. But my rule is, if you’re going to design something, it’s usually a good idea to hire a designer. It’s an even better idea to have people with good taste and design experience serve on the selection committee for the final choice. TxDot did neither. In fact, it ordered up several new versions (from employees, I take it, since nobody is credited) and put the options up for a vote on the internet. The result is one more argument against democracy. 

The old license plates had the benefit of not being obtrusive. They also had a nice suggestion of irony, playing with the Texas myth while playing on it. But irony is a subtle instrument. In the linoleum halls of the world’s largest buyer of concrete, subtlety is probably not top of mind.

As for me, I’m going to blame it all on Rick Perry.

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