I came across a June 2008 article in the LA Times called, "Louise Sandhaus digs into California graphic design history at L.A.'s Municipal Art Gallery," which addresses how California can be portrayed. Louis Sanhaus, a CalArts faculty member, is currently working on her project "Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires and Riots: California and Graphic Design." What interested me about her title is that California isn't only about the sunny oceanside, but also about the geography. I feel that many times, we portray California in our own image, creating an identity and culture rather than focusing on the land itself, which can be both beautiful and dangerous. The movie poster titled "The Endless Summer" (1964) by John Van Hamersveld is an example of a designer going against popular notions that orange was not to be used, at least "by serious designers on the East Coast." Another example of a design pioneer is April Greiman's fold-out poster where she included her self-portrait in the nude and caused many people to talk, so much so that it's still mentioned, 23 years later.
Here's the full article if you're interested: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/arts/la-ca-posters22-2008jun22,0,358900.story