News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, August 28, 2009

License to Annoy: Get Your Reston! Plates

RestonLicense0207.gifThe next time you're stuck in traffic on the Toll Road and calling your broker to refloat your mortgage to pay for the rapidly increasing tolls, look on the bright side. You can identify yourself as a resident of our favorite planned real estate development, courtesy of this fancy Reston license plate. Bonus points if you drive a Prius with more than one Obama bumper sticker.

Lots of crazy organizations have requested specialty license plates, so why not Reston? This is the plate proposed by the Reston Citizens Association, which actually held a contest to design it several years ago, well before this filthy "web log" was created. Designed by Doug Fuller, the winning design represents "the trees and water all residents of Reston enjoy in its woods and lakes." Sweet! We like trees and water! And cars! And specialty plates! And we especially like the exclamation point after our town's name! Reston! Yay!

We know we're ridiculously late to this party -- the contest ended in early 2007 -- but we've actually never seen one of these babies out on the road. Apparently, the RCA needs 350 people to plunk down the extra $10 to request the plate before they become a reality. What are you waiting for? Do it now, before the DRB requires one for every vehicle parked in an earth-toned carport!


  1. You won't see these on a Prius unless they give up the HOV plates! I know that I would never do such a thing because that's the only reason I bought it!

    Doesn't the RA own enough vehicles to put a dent in that for $10 a pop?

    Dang! That last sentence was a question! Here's an extra exclamation point for it!!

  2. More exclamation points on the license plate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I think the license plate actually represents the exact amount of vegetation left in the Snakeden after "stream restoration"!

    When I first saw this design in black & white, I thought it bore a striking resemblance to an atomic mushroom cloud!

    And actually, while I'm not crazy about the design, I like the color scheme, which I assume meets DRB guidelines!

  3. I think you owe me royalties...I asked this question in one of your comments sections and someone very rude responded. I hope you don't get the same response.

    And, I don't think the colors are DRB-compliant, and the design is really boring...which may explain why people are not flocking to purchase.

  4. And once again, the politicians extended the privilege of CF plates to those who already have them allowing them to drive in HOV lanes IN VIRGINIA...they don't work in MD...see the story and comments

    - Really extra slow traffic on narcotics

  6. Hi! My name is Doug Fuller and I designed the boring, mushroom cloud-inspired, exclamation point-toting license plate in question. Great discussion about the design (really!), though I've been in the design field long enough to know that you're never going to please everyone

    Being the designer of this plate has been an interesting experience. It got me in a little hot water at work when the reporter from a local paper got my title screwed up and made me look like I ran our design department (when I don't) in the article she wrote about the plate. It's been a little demoralizing that it hasn't gotten enough pre-orders yet.

    On the plus side, my kids think it's pretty cool that SOMEDAY the plate might actually be on the road. I'm a rock star in their little world.

    So, in all seriousness, I'm curious what you'd change about the plate. I'd love to hear your thoughts -- maybe we can finally get this baby out on the road!!!!!

    Doug Fuller

  7. Actually, Doug, as the person who made the comment about the mushroom cloud (sorry, but it WAS the first thing I thought of when I originally saw the black and white version), I don't think you should change anything. If you've read this blog for any amount of time, you will see that we who comment like to poke what we hope is a moderate degree of satire at our hometown and all the things that make Reston...well, Reston. In all fairness I doubt any of us could come up with something better, especially people like me who can't even draw a crooked line!

    Hope you do get 350 people to sign up for the plate.

  8. Anonymous,

    Thanks for your response. I do appreciate good satire but, having designed that plate several years ago, am seeing it anew with all of the comments here. I think designers can easily wall themselves apart from the outside world while working on a project so having new perspectives is a good thing. There is usually an element of truth to satire, writing it off would be a mistake.

    All that said, at least the design is better than that awful parrot head plate (I know, it's a low bar, but hey). Keep up the great work. I'll keep reading.


  9. The only serious critique I'd offer is the exclamation point after Reston! That's more of a copywriting than a design issue, but to me it comes off as desperate. (Imagine seeing a poster saying Mondale! or Dukakis!)

  10. We're not dead, we're just Reston!

  11. The Bloke From Charter OakAugust 31, 2009 at 12:59 PM

    I recently relocated to Reston and just obtained my dull "blue text upon white background" Virginia license plates last week, which perfectly complements my new Virginia driver's license in black-and-white where it is an apparent crime to crack a smirk. Mr. Fuller, I fully support your work and actually was familiar with the design through the RCA web site. I really do like the plate, and I'll be sending in my own $10 pre-order soon. Both a neighbor and a friend of mine may also be interested in the plate. Does anyone have an officially "tally" of how close we are to the 350 mark? If we're still only like at 14 after a couple of years I probably won't be willing to part with the $10. P.S. Why isn't the Reston Association (RA) willing to make up the difference to get these plates on the road in support of our community? I'm sure $3,500 (maximum) is a drop in the bucket out of their budget, that apparently also includes a multi-million dollar indoor recreational facility/juice bar. :-)

  12. Doug, my comment about it being boring was in light of the 'excitement' we've had in Reston in the past few months. I should have been more specific.

    I would love to see a plate that reflects how diverse Reston is, rather than bucolic. When my kid played baseball he was the only 'anglo' on the team and that was a GOOD thing. It's one of the things we like about this community, but I guess that would be hard to depict without it looking more like the kidsfirst plates.

    I'd be interested in how close they are to 350 as well.


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