50 and 50: Reinterpreting the Mottos of Every State, With Fresh Graphics

The “50 and 50” project asks designers for a fresh new graphic that depicts their home state’s official motto.

50 and 50: Reinterpreting the Mottos of Every State, With Fresh Graphics

Last night I found out my wife can’t identify the state of Iowa on a map. I was about to scold her until I realized I couldn’t tell Alabama and Mississippi apart myself. Luckily, today I found “50 and 50,” a graphic-design gallery of all 50 states, organized by their official mottos. They’ve got designers lined up for every state, but so far only four illustrations have been posted. Up above is Tennessee’s motto as seen by Matt Lehman, and here’s Massachusetts’s:


matt weaver

© Mark Weaver

Ooh, aggressive! It’s no “live free or die,” but what is? (I’m eager to see what the New Hampshireans at Ghost Shrimp do with that little bon mot, by the way.)

Brooklyn-based designer Dan Cassaro started “50 and 50” as “an attempt to construct a handsome new way of looking at our country.” It’s certainly hipper than a geography textbook. Here’s an appropriately Lake Wobegon-esque design by Erik Hamline for Minnesota:


And last but not least, Florida’s rather ho-hum motto, made unboring by Two Arms, Inc.:


“50 and 50” will roll out a new illustration every week until the entire Union is accounted for. It’s already making a difference: Now, not only can I correctly identify which state is Alabama (it’s the one to the right), I know that “[They] dare to defend our rights.” …to, um, this, I guess? That oughta be an interesting illustration.

[Read more at 50 and 50]

About the author

John Pavlus is a writer and filmmaker focusing on science, tech, and design topics. His writing has appeared in Wired, New York, Scientific American, Technology Review, BBC Future, and other outlets.