Andrew Simon’s tools of the trade

Blammo's chief creative officer finds inspiration in oddball vintage board games

Blammo’s chief creative officer finds inspiration in oddball vintage board games

Andrew Simon is one of the most respected and successful creative directors in the country. He earned that reputation from a stellar run as CD at DDB and now as chief creative officer at Blammo. He’s got a trophy case full of award-show hardware and now he’s co-chair of the 2012 Marketing Awards (along with Sid Lee’s Eva Van den Bulcke). He also likes to play games. A lot. Vintage board games, mainly. It’s become a bit of an obsession.

It started innocently at an antique show in Aberfoyle, Ont., when Simon discovered, “and fell in love with,” the game Pie Face.

The box shows a family sitting at a table gathered around a device which slams cream pies into the players’ (losers’?) faces. The father is out-of-his-seat excited as his daughter is about to get pied.

“This is the hobby for me,” thought Simon and as he dug a little deeper into the world of vintage board games, he discovered a “treasure trove of wonderful things.”

He’s up to about 40 vintage games now. They line the walls of his office and once took up a room of his house, until his first child came along. But fatherhood hasn’t slowed down his search for quirkier and even more oddball games, new and old.

Friends and family are also on the lookout for him now. That’s how he got Snifty Snakes. Simon had never heard of it but stopped his friend the moment she explained it entails putting a plastic, elephant trunk-like appendage around one’s face. “I’ll take it,” he said.

From quirky photos to unusual graphics and colour combinations nobody would think of today, to the warped concepts themselves, Simon finds the games, old and new, a source of creative inspiration.

“It’s just the notion of play,” he says.

When faced with a creative roadblock, it’s normal for people to become really intense or over-analyze. Playing games frees you from that, says Simon.

“Seeing the world through a child’s eyes is really refreshing. There is nothing holding you back. You just react instinctively and that naivety is really a blessing.”

“For that moment, when you are playing, everything goes away,” he says. “It is freedom—and creativity comes from freedom.”

Creative Tool Kit: Andrew Simon’s other sources for creative inspiration

Improv comedy: It’s all about living in the moment. And creating without a safety net.

The Sunday NY Times + Robot Chicken: Eat too much of any one thing and you get sick of it. I much prefer a little intellectualism mixed with a healthy dose of pure idiocy. If the artists want something, like a watch or chicken wings, they paint it. Then they sell the painting for the price of the item. A constant reminder that the best ideas are incredibly simple.

Eavesdropping at the Eaton Centre Food Court: What it lacks in culinary prowess, it more than makes up for with a stellar smorgasbord of humanity.

Morning Walks With My Dog: We all need quiet time to let our subconscious do its thing. Plus, my dog happens to be a creative genius.

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