California license plates will go without Wyland whale tail
Some 126,000 California license plates sport a whale tail designed by artist Robert Wyland, but the famed marine muralist is now withdrawing his permission for the state to use the art. A few months ago, Wyland asked the California Coastal Commission to donate 20 percent of profits from the plate to his ocean-conservation group. The commission, which directs the $15 or so it receives from each specialty plate to state conservation programs, says that’s “outrageous”; they say Wyland gave the state rights to the whale tail in a 1994 “handshake deal” with no strings attached. Wyland disagrees: “I was being very generous in allowing them to … borrow one of my images for a period of time.” The state Department of Motor Vehicles has begun searching for a replacement artist.