OTHER VOICES: No argument here about the appearance of the new plate | Opinion
During the unveiling of Nebraska’s new license plate design last week, First Lady Suzanne Shore correctly noted that it’s “a state sport in every state to criticize license plates.”
But you’re not going to get a lot of reviews here. We actually think we ended up with a pretty good design for a plate that will adorn 8 million vehicles from 2023 to 2028.
Final judgment will have to be reserved until a real plate is attached to a real car on a real street (and maybe after a few weeks of accumulated dirt on winter roads), but the design unveiled has some simple colors (gray and blue), easy-to-read typography, and most importantly, features an image that tells an important story.
The work, a reproduction of the Hildreth Meiere mosaic inlaid into the floor of the Capitol’s second floor north entrance, depicts stars, lightning, the sun, the moon and a planet. “He embodies the spirit of Nebraska,” Shore said.
It is less ambitious in terms of trying to tell the state’s story than previous designs which captured the state’s rugged west with Chimney Rock and its urban east with a city skyline divided by a subtle Platte river. And its solid colors won’t clash with most car colors – if that’s something you care about.
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Our outgoing plate – the Sower – was not universally hailed as a graphic design victory. In fact, it took two tries to get the right seeder. The first attempt, discovered by the Journal Star, was actually a sower image of a relief sculpture at Michigan State University, not the one atop our Capitol.
But that controversy paled in comparison to that of 2009 when a website hijacked a state poll in an effort to ensure Nebraskanians got the most boring design possible. The World-Herald uncovered what would become known as the “Plategate”, after the state initially denied the investigation had been influenced. Nebraska ended up with the golden, green and greyish lark on a goldenrod plate.
So this time we had a quiet process that produced a skillfully designed plate. We don’t need the flashiest, but we want something that stands up to the scrutiny of a family driving across the country on summer vacation playing the license plate game.
If you don’t like the plate, there are 33 different specialty plate options, each raising awareness and financially supporting a different cause.
But for our money – literally – our new plate will do a good job. He can’t shout Nebraska at someone who isn’t from here. But he draws on a striking image and shared experience and says we are Nebraskans in a quiet, understated way.