State's New Whale Tale Has Bay Area Roots

The California Coastal Commission unveiled a new specialty "whale  tail" license plate on Tuesday designed in part by a Bay Area resident.
    Whale tail "ecoplates" were first introduced by the commission in  1997, and since then nearly 200,000 have been sold, raising more than $60  million for environmental conservation, commission spokeswoman Chris Parry  said.
    The original featured artwork by famed marine life artist Robert  Wyland. Parry said the commission decided to use a new design when Wyland  asked for a 20 percent royalty on sales of the license plates in 2008.
    "We really appreciate the donation of the original whale tail,"  Parry said. "It has served us really well. We're nothing but appreciative at  this point."
    The commission held a contest to find new artists to design the  new ecoplate. More than 300 artists submitted entries, and the commission on  Tuesday revealed the winning design by Elizabeth Robinette Tyndall, a painter  from Bethel Island in Contra Costa County, and Bill Atkins, a digital artist  from Laguna Beach.
    Each artist received $1,000 as a prize. And this time around, the  artists were required to sign releases, Parry said.
    The two artists worked together to create the new image using  aspects from each of their designs. The final design was then refined by a  graphic design team.
    The new plate is similar to the original, with a large humpback  whale tail splashing in the ocean, although the new design features a bright,  sunny sky with puffy white clouds in the background as opposed to Wyland's  foggy sky.
    "It's been extremely successful and popular. We wanted to build on  that rather than go in new direction," Parry said.
    The original design was discontinued on July 1 and the new plates  went on sale this morning.
    Both designs can be seen on the commission's website at
    Parry said the Department of Motor Vehicles is accepting mail-in  orders for the specialty plates, and printable applications can be found on  the website.

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