Before there was Design Turnpike, Dave Bowman began converting vintage license plates into maps and art for himself and his friends and family back in 2008. He had no idea that his creations would come to be displayed all over the nation. Four years after Bowman finished his first piece (a map of the United States), Design Turnpike has become the go-to place for vintage license plate art.
Working out of Dearborn, coincidentally the birthplace of the modern automobile, Bowman now creates much more than just maps (though he notes that maps of the U.S. are still his favorite projects). Using license plates of all colors and origins, Bowman fashions anything you can fathom.
In additions to the maps, Design Turnpike also offers state silhouettes, city skylines, state birds, the University of Michigan “M” and MSU Spartan helmet, and much more. And for those of you whose budgets have less wiggle room, Design Turnpike also offers prints and name plates (great for kids’ bedrooms), as well as iPhone cases, mugs, necklaces, speakers and much more.
Speaking with Bowman, it’s easy to understand why Design Turnpike has become such a success. Not only is he obviously very passionate about his creations (he even says, “I really love picky clients – it shows that they care about the art as much as I do.”), but he invests a great deal of time and effort into each piece.
Bowman says he only accepts a few projects a month, as he personally plans and executes each one himself. That means scouring eBay, CraigsList, garage sales, junk yards, repo auctions and friends’ garages for a variety of vintage license plates, hand cutting each of plate and assembling and nailing them onto stained wood. He even quips, “I suffer an average of one bruised thumb or finger during each project, so I put blood, sweat and tears into each one.”
Bowman’s fervor is a major part of what distinguishes Design Turnpike from other license plate art vendors. While other retailers may
cut costs by using new and more common license plates, Bowman takes great care to find the perfect vintage license plates for each creation. Design Turnpike also has a zero (yes, zero) dollar advertising budget, relying solely on word of mouth from satisfied customers. This hasn’t been much of a problem, as the praise of Bowman’s work has been abundant.
So head over and check out all of the awesome creations at Design Turnpike, and read up on the latest news on the Tin Snip Times, the Design Turnpike blog. And be sure to like Design Turnpike on Facebook and follow them on Twitter!