She radiates confidence and sex appeal. Her long hair — always fiery red with subtle waves hanging around her shoulders — is her signature. Sometimes she appears frivolous and carefree, her body wrapped around a wine bottle with that wide red smile. Other times, she is contemplative; lying at the edge of the Lodi Lake with a glass of purple wine in her hand and strappy heels on her feet.
This woman, as mysterious as she appears, is the face of ZinFest. Her gaze has graced the artful event posters for nine years. The only man who really knows her is her creator, artist and illustrator Vince McIndoe, who is commissioned annually by the Lodi Winegrape Commission to create an advertorial poster that translates as a visual picture of the festival’s personality.
He wanted to portray fun and the outdoors, as well as Lodi’s wine — things that stood out to him when he first visited Lodi and ZinFest. The woman seemed to fit both Lodi and his own artistic style.
“It started on a whim and I kept it going,” McIndoe said.
But the funny thing is: “I just noticed there are so many redheads in Lodi,” he laughs.
It’s not uncommon for strawberry blondes and women with red hair to whisper questions like, “I’m in the poster, aren’t I?”
Stuart Spencer, program manager for the Lodi Winegrape Commission, who hired McIndoe, says many people identify with the the lady with the red hair.
“A lot of people live vicariously through her,” Spencer said.
McIndoe is a celebrated illustrator and fine artist whose long list of clients include Moet & Chandon, Stolichnaya Vodka, BMW, McDonald’s and Anheuser-Busch. His favorite client so far has been Bob Dylan’s aunt, who commissioned the singer’s portrait.
McIndoe was born and raised in Canada. He followed the lead of his mom, a painter, and began painting. Then, he says, when his parents noticed he was sort of talented, they decided to send him to art school at Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto. His career took off from there.
McIndoe now spends his days in his studio on the ground floor of a large building in South Korea, where he and his family moved nearly eight years ago out of a desire to experience more of the world. He keeps the doors locked to passersby, blares his music and paints until the early morning. In a world that is booming with digitized artwork, McIndoe says he does everything by hand — though he jokes that his computer (hey, he has to send email) is covered in more paint than any of his canvases.
The perk of his career, is being able to work from anywhere, to experience different lifestyles, like this new life in South Korea. While his children picked up the language in Korean schools, he can “speak enough to get by, order food, do my taxes,” he said in a phone interview from his home in South Korea.
Western food is almost foreign to him, as he now eats a steady diet of traditional Korean fare. Earlier this week, he ate Korean soup early in the day, dined at a traditional restaurant for lunch and had grilled fish for dinner.
But Korea is not forever; North America is in his cards, perhaps even Lodi.
“Lodi has that real tranquil quality,” said McIndoe, who has thought about moving to Lodi and says it’s not out of the question.
McIndoe learned about Lodi and its wine industry after the Lodi Winegrape Commission hired him to create the ZinFest posters. He has visited Lodi and attended the festival several times.
In his art studio, he keeps a lot of his favorite wines, including one from m2, one of his favorite Lodi wineries.
“To be totally honest, I prefer Zins from Lodi because they’re bigger, fuller, heavier,” he said.
McIndoe likes the higher-end local wines, not because they’re “higher-end,” but because they’re well crafted, he says.
When he visits Lodi, McIndoe makes his rounds to the vineyards and Downtown tasting rooms. He says locals spoil him with bottles of wine and a good time and food at Wine & Roses.
“When you experience Lodi and the people, then you put the wine into the equation — it’s a great mix,” McIndoe said.
Wine has always been his love, as well as a culture he’s enjoyed painting. He’s created and studied champagne posters, and his style reflects the ballpark-style poster that has that turn-of-the-century feel. His influences are the classics.
It’s what he goes for when creating the ZinFest poster: “Romantic.” “Tongue-in-cheek.” “Less French.”
He starts with a sketch, one that always involves waiting to see how the redheaded woman will present herself in the new year. Then, with a heavy-handed black line, he begins to paint those elements that come to mind when he thinks of people sipping wine on that hot summer day at Lodi Lake.
“What I’m always trying to capture is the light, the lake and the spirit of the event,” McIndoe said.
Contact Lodi Living Editor Lauren Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.