SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) – 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.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (2)
  1. PeepsRepublic says:

    I didn’t realize that the intent was to create a cartoon-like rendering. Well, I guess with Willie in charge, it is appropriate.

    1. PeepsRepublik says:

      Actually, that is Jerry, but Wee Willie Brown just popped into my head from an old child hood cartoon.

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