NEW TIMES How long has Proof been in business?
JOSH McFADDEN Proof has been around for four years. It started when I finished working harvests in 2007 in Santa Maria. It started off with me having a lot of friends who were winemakers, who needed help putting together e-mails and making decisions about wine clubs, and it kind of grew into me helping them with labels, branding, and design. It’s kind of helping the winemakers make wine and doing everything else for them.
NEW TIMES I understand one of your wine labels was recently banned in Michigan. Who was the artist?
McFADDEN We try to use as much artwork from great masters as possible. That’s a Swiss artist named Félix Vallotton, and this piece was done in 1908. I prefer to use as much historical artwork as possible, because I feel that with wine, part of my responsibility is to connect it with history. [Vallotton] was a famous art nouveau artist working in the Swiss style. And it was banned! It’s pretty amazing. It’s this girl on her bed, petting her pussycat. It’s a masturbation metaphor used to express sexuality, and this, in the early 21st century, was a big deal. And so, I wanted to use this on a label. I think it’s beautiful. So I came up with the name Lazy Bones. It’s a girl lying on her bed, drinking wine by herself, and kind of comfortable with that. That label specifically is actually glow-in-the-dark. The package doesn’t say it; it’s a secret.
NEW TIMES Who actually is in charge of banning wine labels?
McFADDEN Each state has their own board, and they determine what is obscene and not obscene. Each state has control over what it allows to be decent, and decides what meets their standards.
NEW TIMES Aren’t you originally from Michigan?
McFADDEN Uh-huh. And that’s one of the reasons I left. It’s a very conservative state. I’m happy to hear that it got banned. I think it’s really cute. ∆