Saturday, August 6 2022

What started as a wave of original design concepts in the minds of five people will be screwed into the backs of hundreds of thousands of cars in just three months.

It all started on June 10 when Talk creative, a Tennessee-based web design and marketing agency, was invited to bid to design the new Tennessee license plate. By state law, state license plates must be redesigned every eight years if the budget allows.

“It was a blast, really a fun project,” Speak Creative CEO and co-founder Jacob Savage told Tennessean. “It is truly a privilege to be able to undertake a project like this which has a very unique impact in our community across the state.”

After approval and a follow-up interview, Speak Creative began designing in mid-July and final license plate selections were finalized in early August.

“It was a quick project,” Savage said. “It was probably one of the quickest decisions. And then the process itself was swift. The state had a deadline to release them early next year.”

Umari Osgood, Sabian Samaniego, Mark Palomino and Nina Kalpakis are working on new Tennessee license plate designs.

Quick is correct – residents of Tennessee only have one week to vote for their favorite license plate design. The winning design will be announced this fall, and then it will be available from January 2022.

“As Tennessee celebrates 225 years as a state, now is the perfect time to rethink our license plate and introduce the Tri-Star which represents each of our state’s unique major divisions,” said Governor Bill Lee in a press release. “We invite all Tennesséens to vote and play a role in choosing this part of the history of our state.”

There are four designs that qualified for the final round – two navy blue designs and two white designs that all highlight the three star emblem on the Tennessee state flag.

These designs have been endorsed by a variety of stakeholders, said Savage, including representatives from the State Office, Governor Bill Lee’s office, the State Soldiers team, and those concerned with income, the travel and tourism.

“We’re just excited to see this thing cross the finish line and start seeing these points on the streets,” said Savage.

Four new license plate designs are set for Tennessee residents to vote until Monday, September 27.

We asked, you answered:Here’s how Tennessee readers voted on the new Tennessee license plates

Looking back:As Tennessee votes for a new license plate, here’s a look at history dating back to 1915

Creativity and design vs. readability and security

Despite the number of stakeholders responsible for approving final designs, Savage said Speak Creative’s five-person team have creative freedom, as long as the license plate has a few key elements required by law. .

According to Tennessee Statute 55-4-103, there are three words or phrases that must be displayed on license plates: “Tennessee”, “Volunteer State” and “”. Although the last four license plate designs feature the words “In God We Trust”, drivers can choose not to have the phrase on their plate.

Savage said that taking these requirements into account, the readability of the fonts, the shift from six to seven characters in the license plate number and the space reserved for the county name, limits the amount of real estate available for creativity and design.

Another important factor that comes into play is safety and accessibility for law enforcement, Savage said.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Bill Sanderson would make the phrase "We believe in god" optional on Tennessee license plates.

Why isn’t Tennessee’s new license plate orange?

This fall, Tennessee residents will know which license plate design will replace the Green Mountain one implemented in 2006 – and it will be blue or white.

“Why isn’t the new Tennessee license plate orange?” Some Tennessee residents said on social media this week. Others wondered why these designs were “so basic” or “boring”.

Some have even wondered why the plates don’t accentuate what Tennessee has to offer, like music or nature.

“At the end of the day, state contacts are our customers,” Savage said in response to the opinions of Tennessee residents. “While we may have our own personal preferences, or someone else in charge of the project may have a different direction they want to go, ultimately our decision makers, our client, are the people of the state. .

“So our job was to show them a wide variety of creative directions to start with, and then let them respond to them and help them narrow them down.”

Tennessee law requires reissue of a new license plate design at least every eight years, but the design introduced by Bredesen was essentially unchanged by Gov. Bill Haslam.  This year, residents have the opportunity to rate four designs, the winner will be announced in the fall and will be available in 2022.

Overall, the Speak Creative team wanted to represent “all parts of our state,” Savage said.

The Speak Creative team has focused on the three star element, evident in the last four designs. All but one feature the three-star emblem in the center; the fourth has the stars in a large watermark in the background.

Savage added that the decision to describe “Tennessee” in the shape of the state was a nod to an old state plaque.

Dale Wiley, paraplegic and author of the Free Parking Privilege and Disabled License Plates Act that came into effect last month, displays one of the new labels on the back of his automobile on March 31, 1976 The Tennessee Department of Revenue says that special license plates for disabled drivers are now available at national court clerk offices statewide.

Rejected designs

Savage said a large a variety of design concepts emerged at the start of this project – there were over 100 different options and ideas.

“Several were out of the wall,” Savage said.

A design concept was based on the flag of Tennessee. It was a red license plate with the tri-star emblem in the middle.

Another was a play on the musical heritage of the state.

There was also an iconic Tennessee option that included the Mississippi River, the Memphis Pyramid, the AT&T “Batman” building in Nashville, and the Smoky Mountains.

How to vote on the new Tennessee license plate

Vote on the new Tennessee plaque design at

Voting began on Monday and will end at 11:59 p.m. CT on Monday, September 27.

Daniella Medina is Digital Producer for USA TODAY Network. Follow her on Twitter @danimedinanews.


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