49 Voices: Anita Laulainen of Palmer

Anita Laulainen of Palmer. (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

This week we’re hearing from Anita Laulainen from Palmer. Laulainen is a UAA graphic design student and just gave the whole state a present: a new license plate design.

Listen now

LAULAINEN: I think I’ve always wanted to be an artist. When I was younger I would draw a lot, just drawing everything pretty much I could get my hands on. I would look at book covers and illustrations on things and try to copy it, and then from there, I moved to copying fonts. And so for me I always loved art, and at first I didn’t think it would be necessarily a feasible job, but once I looked into graphic design, I thought, “This would work.”

So the Alaska Council on the Arts — I’m pretty sure I’m saying that correctly — they put on this statewide competition so that anyone who’s a resident of Alaska could submit a design. And so I was actually doing it for a class project originally, because it was an assignment. After I finalized my design for the class, I went ahead and submitted it.

They had a celebrity panel jury that looked through all of the different designs and picked their top five favorites, I believe. And then from there, the public — Alaska residents — voted on which one was their favorite.

My design is a night scene of some Alaska mountains with the Northern Lights in the sky, with stars and the moon. And then down below on the horizon there’s some hills and some trees. My license plate design was inspired by my love and appreciation for the beauty of Alaska. I wanted to show with my design, putting together the quintessential picture of Alaska. You see the mountains, you see the Northern Lights, you see the beautiful winter scene, and I wanted to just encapsulate all that with my design. And I feel like a lot of people recognized that when the voting process happened and they wanted to see that on their license plate.

We’re still in the process of actually getting the design onto a plate, so we haven’t really started that process yet. Next summer, they’ll be available for purchase and I’m pretty sure I’ll be getting one.

I feel like it hasn’t quite sunk in all the way. Like, it’s just like, “Oh! It’s really cool,” but I haven’t seen it in person yet and I feel like it’ll finally sink in once I see it on people’s cars. I’ll be driving around like, “Whoa there’s my design. There’s my design.”

Anita Laulainen, a UAA graphic design student from Palmer, submitted the winning design for the artistic license plate competition.

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

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