SAN MARCOS — Gregg Visintainer has been doodling since he was 15 years old, creating intricately detailed ink drawings that include messages hidden with each zig and zag of a pen stroke.
So when La Victoria announced it was looking for artists for a competition in commemoration of the Mexican salsa company’s 100th anniversary, Visintainer said he thought the company might dig his doodles.
Turns out he was right.
The San Marcos artist recently won first prize in La Victoria’s art contest, which yielded dozens of entrants across the county. The prize: a cool $7,500, pretty good for a guy who says he’s never entered an art contest before.
“I just have never been about doing competitions,” said Visintainer, who runs the Viz Art Ink Gallery in downtown Carlsbad. “But when I saw this, I thought it was cool that a company was celebrating 100 years and I thought it was cool that they would commemorate that by supporting local artists.”
The winning artwork depicts a bottle of La Victoria salsa with a sunset and beach in the backdrop, done in Visintainer’s trademark style. Words and phrases describe the salsa and the history of the company. Look closely and see words like “La Bacas,” the name of the family who created the salsa in 1917 in the Central Valley, “quality” and “family.”
La Victoria called on artists to create a piece of art that captured the West Coast lifestyle and featured the company’s salsa products. First, the artists were to submit some of their artwork, and the company would select five finalists to create their La Victoria piece.
When Visintainer received word he was one of the five finalists, “then I started to take it seriously,” he said.
He researched the company, he came up with his concept and then began to work. Thirty hours later, Visintainer completed the work of art at 1:30 a.m. on the day of the deadline.
His piece was the clear winner, said Lindsay Anthony, a spokeswoman for La Victoria.
“We were just blown away,” Anthony said. “It totally captures the essence of La Victoria and his artwork, the colors and the details really stood out.”
La Victoria announced Visintainer as the winner during a May 11 dinner at the Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego, one of five dinners the company is hosting along the West Coast in connection with its anniversary celebration.
Visintainer said the celebration doubled as his wedding anniversary with his wife Loralee. The prize money, he said, will go toward a down payment on a home and a college fund for their child.
As for any future competitions, Visintainer said he doesn’t see himself entering anymore in the near future.
“I have a lot of cool things in the works this year, and I’m backed up 18 months on my artwork, so I think that is the only contest I’ll be entering for a while,” Visintainer said. “I’m glad I made this one count.”