Ever fancied yourself as an international art dealer? Casually snapping up Picassos with a £1m price tag and drinking hella Champagne? In the new board game Going, Going, Gone! by illustrator Simon Landrein and publisher Laurence King, you can flex this high roller alter ego for a couple of hours without too much risk of financial ruin. In it you become a famous art collector who travels the world to acquire prestigious pieces of art, putting together a collection to increase the prices of your holdings. Much of the economics in the game echoes the real-world art market, but there are some knowing comic twists along the way.
A long time in the making, the project is the first board game Simon has illustrated and was a labour of love for Laurence King’s deputy publisher Marc Valli. Formerly the publisher of art magazine Elephant, Marc had wanted to create the game for around eight years, chatting to friends and family about it at every opportunity, and picking the brains of then-editor Robert Shore and Phaidon Publisher Amanda Renshaw. “I wanted a game that was about art and was vaguely reminiscent of Monopoly (though of course for obvious and copyright reasons very different) relating to masterpieces in a museum and their crazy prices, and the world of high-flying art collectors,” he tells It’s Nice That.
After ironing out the rules and convincing the rest of the company that embarking on a “crazy and expensive board game about art” was in fact a good idea, Marc then enlisted development editor and former art historian Donald Dinwiddie to find a way around the fact that a lot of art is copyrighted, making it very difficult to reproduce. Donald hit gold with the idea that the works in the game could be lost masterpieces from well-known artists. In the game, you can bid on Andy Warhol’s portrait of Lady Gaga, for example, or Edvard Munch’s The Uncontrollable Giggle. It’s an incredibly funny and very neat way to get around what could have been a major set back.
“Donald used both his encyclopaedic knowledge of art alongside his surreal sense of humour to create a museum of imaginary works of art based on all kinds of in-jokes and loopy theories, such as the ones claiming that the Mona Lisa is, in fact, a self-portrait,” explains Marc. Donald also suggested writing an auction catalogue, which is now Marc’s favourite part of the game. “What I love about the catalogue is that you can read it as an elegantly written and informative piece of art writing up to the last sentence and that’s when you take a step back and go, ‘What?!’ and you suddenly realise it is a spoof.”
Next up it was time to commission an illustrator to bring the ideas to life. Looking for someone with a strong style and with a sense of humour, Marc approached Simon, who reinterpreted a huge range of reference material to create the illustrations for the board, card and box. Simon created so many illustrations for the game – 23 locations, 36 cards, six counters, and banknotes and numerous other for the box – that he’s lost track quite how many.
“It was fun but a challenge too, it’s hard to draw a Monet with a clean line so I had to find few tricks along the way,” Simon tells us. “I guess the tricky part was to find the balance in between each image and my interpretation of them to make sure the design is consistent through the whole game.” With its cheeky jabs at the art world yet boasting some intriguing trivia, Going, Going, Gone! is an entertaining and informative romp. A very fun way to give Jay, Sadie and Larry a run for their money.