Interview: Put a Little Hoodzpah in it

Interview The Beat March 09, 2022

Why does Board Game Social Club exist? It celebrates the gaming community we love and highlights passion in design, and allows us to works with even more talented people beyond our games. Mattox recalls:

We freaking love making games. But as we're working with games, it's like man, this is can be a year-long process or more of working on mechanics, the art in the game and whatnot, along with getting it to production and things. And we came out of graphic design and illustration backgrounds. And we just love like posters and fun, paraphernalia, and swag, and all that stuff. And we felt like [Hoodzpah] was making so much cool stuff from pins to mugs, t-shirts that we really love and we just wanted to work with graphic designers to make these like quicker products.

We gave Hoodzpah Design a really broad brief. Celebrate fun in gaming and creativity. They gave us the Board Game Social Club. We love it, so the name's sticking. Amy and Jen Hood are a dream to work with and we hope this interview shines a light on even an inch of their coolness. You can read the interview below or follow this link to give it a listen.

Keymaster: We have two really awesome guests today, Jen and Amy Hood from Hoodzpah Design. Welcome!

Amy & Jen: Thank you for having us!

Keymaster: We were like, let's make a list of cool people we want to work with. And we're just like Hoodzpah…. They’d be really cool to work with, which then begs the question “Who is Hoodzpah?” 

Jen: Well, we are a brand identity and type design company. Well, we say type design, but we shouldn't because we're in the presence of greatness here with Mattox. We’ve definitely done a lot of custom lettering and word marks for logos, actually to try and want to like build that out into more full-blown typefaces.  But in between brand projects, there's always the opportunity to do illustration, T shirts and swag for clients. And so of course, when you all came to us, and we're like, hey, let's just do this for fun. Let's collaborate because we are big board game fans and we actually just got Caper: Europe the other day and we played it for the first time the other day and it was so much fun.

Keymaster: I’ve got kind of a burning question here, especially with the two of you being twins. How do you find ways to work together on the same project and still produce such incredible stuff? 

Jen: Typically, one of us will have the key creative control over the project. And then the other one can jump in with ideas. So, if I'm the head on the project, Jen will always do sketching and ideation with me and then she provides feedback, but we try to keep one person as the point per person. 

Amy: And that person always has the final say. Because there are points where we both just have differing opinions, but at the end of the day we trust each other's creativity. We had to learn that just because I have a different opinion than you that doesn't mean that we both don't have good instincts and we both have the best intentions for the project. So just as a final kind of like tiebreaker, someone always has to be the owner of the project.

Keymaster: Basically, y'all are Paul and John. But you tell each other you love each other. And that's what gets you through and that's why you're still together after so many years. It's resulted in you getting to do work for some pretty cool clients, some of which include the Lakers… 

Jen: Oh, it was so exciting working on that project because we're huge fans.

Keymaster: You also got do some cool work for Pixar.  

Amy: I will say that it did feel almost magical how it all came about. But it is a string of events. Nothing is like, you know, just comes like out of nowhere. But it all goes back to someone searching hashtags to find like lettering and type work and we hashtag the crap out of all of our posts. The art director from 20th Century Fox found us that way and brought us in on some projects and then he referred us once they got bought out by Disney to the Disney team and that's how we got brought on on that. So, but it just goes to show that like, you know, just put it out there right? Like post it. What can you lose?

Keymaster: And your stuff, I mean, I was just looking at the work you did for Encanto and how you took themes from the film and put them into the type is just so much fun. I was so impressed.

Jen: It's so fun and like a puzzle, because they're all about really liking simplicity and yet, it has to have a lot of personality. They also always like to have some kind of hidden nod to the story, which is hard, because a lot of times the story is not finished, or they can't tell us everything about the story.

Amy: It still is a very more is more execution request. And that's totally our vibe is just like somewhat literal, funky, you know, quirky type. Like we always love doing that kind of thing. So yeah, it's a blast. It's a great fit.

Keymaster: And when we worked with y'all, I think it started when you guys did like a dentist re-branding and it was just so awesome. Like, if you can make a dentist office look that cool, we can definitely make some fun stuff together. And on our end, when we got back a bunch of your original ideas, it was kind of hard to decide which direction to go in because there was so much good stuff there. Where did the Board Game Social Club come from?

Amy: Yeah, well, I know we were talking about how everybody loves games to some extent and how fun would it be to just make a fake badge that celebrated the fact that we're all part of this unspoken board game social club. 

Jen: And it’s funny how it's kind of like luring people in and asking, “What is that? Can I be a member?”

Keymaster: Yeah, like you're saying there's this unspoken community. I can be talking to someone and I've known them for maybe six months or something and then they're like, “Oh, I like board games.” And I’m like “Wait, you like board games? I like board games!” There's just like this moment of realization and you feel like you're a part of this community. 

Keymaster: Board games have been like the gateway to so many of my modern friendships. You have friends from high school or friends from college… How do you get friends after that?

Jen: You’re so right though! It's like one of those few things were phones are away and it's quality time. Like that's what's really cool about it. You're not just sitting in front of the TV, you're not sitting on your phone in the same room with someone, you’re actively making new memories and having fun, and finding out how insanely competitive your friends are. 

Keymaster: Do y'all have any fun, ridiculous stories from board gaming? 

Amy: So many memories from growing up. Egyptian rat slap at Music Camp. We went to this orchestra camp every year and we should have been practicing because it was an expensive camp but we would just like sit in the hallway and have these huge games… And we used to throw poker nights when we lived in Newport. My friend used to have Settlers of Catan nights, we used to go over there all the time and it was like, such a fun way to meet new people.  

Jen: And of course, the excuse to assert your intellectual dominance by playing Scrabble. 

Amy: In our family, no one likes playing with Jen. Because she wins every game all the time and it's so annoying.

Keymaster: I think that the designs that y'all came up with for Board Game Social Club totally took our super vague idea about something that could be cool and really blossomed it into something special. There's three things that y'all made you made an enamel pin, a t-shirt, and a coffee mug. What was the process like for that?  

Amy: Jen, you were kind of the mastermind behind the concepts… 

Jen: I think the t-shirt was the one that we went most full-on with where we wanted to try and allude to some of like the most iconic board games, including some of Keymaster’s. So that was really fun to kind of Easter eggs that people can spot. 

Amy: I think it was a really fun way to like get people to rally behind a cause you know, people love clubs. Members only jackets, people love them. It's so fun to feel like you're a part of a club, so I love that people are actually wanting you to make like Discord channels.

Keymaster: So what I'm hearing is you're on board for letterman jackets next? 

Amy: Haha, absolutely!

Keymaster: Well thank y’all so much for helping us kick off Board Game Social Club. We are super excited for everyone to start getting their hands on these awesome designs.

Be sure to follow Hoodzpah on the socials. You can find them @Hoodzpahdesign. Then go collect your Board Game Social Club membership pin here.

Hoodzpah team photos by Patrick Yandoc, Board Game Social Club photos by Matthew Barry

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