18 Fabulous Redesigns Of NYC’s Iconic MetroCard

New York cuisine at its finest: Graphic design using pasta, pretzels, and raw meat.

How would you like to carry around a dash of glitter in your wallet? Or maybe some raw meat? Okay, not really. But if Melanie Chernock had her way, New York City’s classic yellow-and-blue MetroCard–a mainstay in the wallet of every New York snob straphanger–would be revamped to visualize the culinary and cultural diversity of the city itself. “Even though the current MetroCard design has been around for years, it could use a little updating,” Chernock, a student at the School of Visual Arts, tells Co.Design. “The card gets so much exposure and should be something thoughtfully designed.”


In Chernock’s vision, MetroCards would be used as marketing tools for various New York neighborhoods and attractions. “Ideally I would like to make 50, print them, and place them around the city as a promotional component,” she says. (She has not contacted the Metropolitan Transportation Authority about adopting her designs, but says she would “like to get their attention.”)

She’s designed 25 MetroCards so far, many of which use custom typography to winkingly evoke a different aspect of the city: There’s one for gay-friendly Chelsea (“MetroCard” written in glitter), and showbizzy Times Square (“MetroCard” written in marquee lights). There’s one for Little Italy (“MetroCard” written in pasta), Alphabet City (“MetroCard” written in alphabet pasta), and, of course, the Meatpacking District (“MetroCard” written in raw meat). Mmmmm!

Chernock made all of them by hand, then photographed the results. “The pasta card was pretty tricky,” she says. “I found out that spaghetti is surprisingly malleable, but it’s the drying out of the pasta you have to watch out for.” For another card, she had to order pretzels in the shape of the alphabet from an Amish town in Pennsylvania. (You can find anything on the Internet nowadays,” she says.) And then there was the raw meat: “The Meatpacking District card was pretty gross to make. I kind of regretted it after I started and felt a little crazy, but I think it was worth it in the end.”

[Images courtesy of Melanie Chernock]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.