RI opened a design competition for its new license plate and 900 people responded


These 900 potential license plate designers submitted 940 designs before the January 7 submission deadline; some people could not limit themselves to just one. The Boston Globe, of course, filed for registration for all 940s, but given the high volume, the Motor Vehicle Division, under the Department of Revenue, is still working on it.

The finalists from those 940 will be selected by a panel of DMV staff members, and then the Rhode Islanders will vote online to pick their favorite.

The license plate design proposed by Karyn E. Jimenez-Elliott, Associate Professor of Graphic Design at Johnson & Wales University.Karyn E. Jimenez-Elliott

The authors included Karyn Jimenez-Elliott, a professional graphic designer who opted for a minimalist version of the Newport Pell Bridge at sunset, as well as an anchor in the upper left corner. In the upper right corner, she put a lesser-known Rhode Island icon: the striped bass.

“There is a unique love for striped bass among Rhode Island anglers,” Jimenez-Elliott told The Globe. “And there’s just something about driving over the Pell Bridge, and that sunset. We have such beautiful sunsets here.

Sometimes graphic design means creating something for a small, targeted audience, and also getting paid for it. The DMV license plate design is neither of these things: the winner’s reward will be $0, plus the appreciation of hundreds of thousands of Rhode Islanders on the highways and highways, and state bridges.

“Having something that’s designed for everyone, just for everyone in Rhode Island — that’s really awesome,” Jimenez-Elliott said.

Deanna Agresti was responsible for several license plate designs. A Cranston resident who went to the Rhode Island School of Design and teaches art at East Greenwich High School, Agresti submitted some slightly modified versions of her own design, inspired by the state flag. A few of his students also submitted them as optional assignments. And she helped her daughters, Lucy, 6, and Annie, 8, with their creations.

Lucy Agresti, 6, left, and her sister Annie Agresti, 8, hold up their license plate designs.
Deanna Agresti

As soon as Lucy and Annie heard about the design competition, they set to work on the designs on their own. Because they can draw but don’t know how to use Adobe Illustrator, Deanna put them in digital form.

“No, move it that way, change that color,” they would tell her as she worked to realize their vision.

Lucy, for example, drew an anchor. But, she clarified, it was actually underwater, and there was a chain attached to it, and there was a bit of a tilt. It gave him a feeling of movement in the water. The fish swimming alongside was also Lucy’s idea. Annie, meanwhile, left with a lighthouse with a sunset.

“When I looked at their sketches, I was like, ‘I never would have thought of that,'” Agresti said. “They like to make art.”

Brian Amaral can be contacted at brian.amaral@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @bamaral44.


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