Utah's quest for a state centennial license plate made a U-turn Friday.

Instead of rubber-stamping the selection made by a committee earlier this week, the state Centennial Commission voted to rework the design using a graphic rendering submitted at Friday's meeting and seek a public marketing reaction to the design before making a final decision.The design retains the basic elements of the plate approved earlier this week with southern Utah's Delicate Arch as the focal point overlaying a series of mountain peaks representative of Utah's northern mountain terrain.

The major difference, said David Holz, the new design's creator, is the accent on graphic, rather than photographic qualities. The new design places greater emphasis on shapes and color and less emphasis on detail. And, there will be some changes in the type faces used.

In the rejected design, all lettering was in a historic RoPlease see PLATE on B2

man style. Holz plans to change the "Utah" at the top of the plate to a contemporary sans-serif style that is bolder and uses wider letters. "1896 Centennial 1996" at the bottom of the plate would retain the Roman style, which Holz says retains the historical element associated with the word. All letters and numbers will be navy blue.

Holz and a graphic artist will develop four variations of the new design over the next week for use in a marketing survey during the following week. The variations will involve colorations. Renderings of the arch will run from a red sandstone color to a gold color similar to that found on rejected plate. Sky colors will also be varied using darker hues than the baby blue on the rejected plate.

Former presidential adviser Steven Studdert, a recent appointment to the commission, will coordinate the marketing effort and report his findings in two weeks.

Studdert raised the issue of marketing early in the meeting. "It would be irresponsible not to do a marketing study when this is intended to be our major source of revenue," Studdert said.

The commission hopes to raise more than $3 million over the next four years to finance state and local centennial celebrations that will culminate in Salt Lake City on Jan. 4, 1996, the state's 100th birthday. Purchase of the centennial license plate will be voluntary and cost motorists an additional $25 initially and $10 annually for renewal until they are phased out in 1997. The commission hopes to have the plates available by Jan. 2, 1992.

Some 1.3 million vehicles are registered in Utah and the commission would have to reach about 10 percent of the market to meet its $3 million goal.

In addition to the license plate, the commission is licensing use of a copyrighted logo for use on clothing and other articles to generate funds.

Studdert, who oversaw development and sales of special license plates to help finance two presidential inaugurations, believes the marketing study is essential if the plate is to be successful.