license plate art & maps





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My name is David Bowman, and I create handmade license plate art and maps under the name Design Turnpike. Thank you for visiting my website.

As a boy, I loved keeping track of license plates. Road trips were kept entertaining by keeping a tally list of the many diverse plates I saw on the road along the way. Family vacations to New Mexico, South Dakota, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Canada and many other destinations exposed me to the wealth of color, style and personality of each state's tag. My interest in maps, geography, travel and crafting grew to inspire my license plate artwork. In fact, a blue Michigan plate that adorned my first vehicle in 1998 lives on in one of the pieces in my personal collection.

Working from Detroit, the birthplace of the modern automobile, I continue to brainstorm and produce various new designs along with some of the classic license plate maps shown throughout this website.



"I just wanted to let you know that our license plate artwork arrived yesterday. I hadn't shown the pictures you sent me to my husband so he was really excited to unpack it. It's wonderful! Once we get it up on the wall, I'll forward you a picture. It looks fantastic and we can't wait to hang it." SK in New Jersey

"Your work is amazing! I can't believe how intricate the cuts are. This must have taken forever to make, now it will be hanging forever in our home." JS in Colorado 

"Thank you for getting this piece to us in time for the big day. I love the wood you used, it has so much character and the license plates selected are so unique. We had high hopes when we bought this and you have outdone yourself. Bravo!" TP in California

"Wow - this piece exceeded my expectations on every level. Consider me a client for life - more orders in the near future!" Professional athlete in North Carolina

"Thank you for your solid communication throughout this process and meeting my very picky requests. This map will hang in our new offices for years to come and we at -------- will be sure to spread the word about your work and the entire process." Fortune 500 CEO in California

Need even more convincing? Read dozens of verified positive reviews of my license plate map and art work on Houzz and Etsy!



Subaru of America
Royal Caribbean
Pep Boys
Social Tap Ventura
Trailhead Brewery
Unical, Inc.
Foster's Grille
All-American Pub of Charlotte NC
State of Alaska
Brookings Auto Mall
US Chamber of Commerce
+ thousands of other businesses and individuals




Q: Can I choose my own background colors for the maps? A: Yes! You can choose from a range of standard stains and finishes, or provide your own custom color selection to me via email or at checkout when you place an order.

Q: Do you keep any maps in stock? A: Not at this time. My workload varies, but usually I am working hard to finish pieces ordered previously through the website.

Q: Do make each piece by hand? A: Yes! Each piece is made to order by hand per your exact specifications upon receiving the order.

Q: Can I request special plates from my home state? A: Yes! I try hard to honor requests for certain plates within reason.

Q: Do you have a retail storefront? A: No. I create all my work from my home studio and sell my work online nearly exclusively.

Q: Do you ship internationally? A: Yes! I have shipped my work to customers in over a dozen countries around the world. Send me a message to receive a custom quote on any of my handmade originals.



If you're in the market for handmade custom license plate art or maps, you have probably looked around the web a bit and seen quite a range in prices... Why is there such a wide disparity in cost (from $500 to $5,000 for a large license plate map of the USA)? 

• Marketing and Middlemen: More expensive artists spend a ton of money on advertising (both print and online) and roll those significant ongoing costs into the price of their artwork. Some pay to have their websites appear higher in web search rankings; Design Turnpike has risen to the first page over the years by organic links and positive word of mouth from satisfied clients.

Many also sell through their work primarily through a third-party vendor with huge markups - when you buy a piece from Design Turnpike, you are buying directly from the artist.

• Quality: Some budget artisans rush through projects and rely on straight and simple cuts, use only common newer license plates and crank out a large volume of work to be competitive. At Design Turnpike, I create each piece one at a time, not by using an assembly line and cutting corners. Remember: you get exactly what you pay for.

• Design Turnpike offers the best of both worlds: Beautiful handmade unique pieces created from vintage license plates at half the cost of some high-end creators. Double the quality of lower-end sellers who rush through work and use newer common license plates with little provenance and history surrounding them. My work won't have boxy states and poor proportions. I individually plan out each project that I accept specifically and then painstakingly handcut and assemble it with care and precision.

At Design Turnpike, I work on just a few select projects each month and spend nothing on advertising—choosing instead to rely solely on good publicity from hundreds of happy clients and customers over the past many years. Dozens of folk artists have been making art and maps out of recycled license plates for the past half a century. At Design Turnpike, I try to take it to the next level using vintage materials, painstaking attention to detail, and a classically-trained eye for bold color, contrast and design.

If you'd like to join a growing list of satisfied Design Turnpike owners around the world including professional athletes, award-winning restaurants, automobile buffs and corporate executives, click here to get started. I'm also interested in custom commissioned work. If you would like to discuss a project or have any questions / comments about my work, please drop me a line!




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All content copyright Design Turnpike LLC 2007-2017

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