Artists In Their Own Words: Andrew Preble
Photo by: Escape My Room
Who: Andrew Preble
What: Print Designer and Puzzle Artist
Where: Warehouse District
Artist’s Chosen Location for Interview: Haro Café (703 Carondelet)
Q: What’s a discovery in history that you wish you would have been a part of solving?
A: I like to think about political conspiracies—like Abraham Lincoln’s assassination or JFK’s death. Those two come to mind. People have spun them in such crazy and interesting directions.
Also, I can’t think of a specific example off the top of my head, but any big jewelry heist would also be interesting to solve and track down.
The political conspiracies have so many more moving parts, though, so I’d want to be a part of those. So many people are wrapped up in those situations, so they’re probably almost impossible to solve. There’s just so much out there that’s surrounding the conspiracy. There’s no real proof either. You have to choose what you take as evidence or not, like if you listen to hearsay or not listen to hearsay.
I’m an anti-conspiracy theorist, so it might be fun to be the one who starts the conspiracy theory. See what it’s like. What does the theory need to make people take it and make it their own? That’s what seems to happen. People will take this snippet of information and start morphing it into something bigger, and then more people take that, and it continues to grow.
In a way, I guess I do work with conspiracy because the story lines in Escape My Room are linked with conspiracy. Each room builds off of the previous one. They are kind of like episodes. You don’t have to do them all in order, but if you do them all then you have a better sense of all the background information, which follows a historical New Orleans family that’s been caught up in different conspiracies.
There are so many families in New Orleans that have a crazy history or these dynasties, and we chose the DeLaporte family because we felt like we had a lot of information to go with on that family. There was a lot they were linked into.
Q: If you were walking in a visual loop and every three blocks you had to see the same building, what building in New Orleans would you choose to see on repeat?
A: A building that’s really intricate. That way every time you walk past it you see something different. It never looks like the same building because you see something new.
I haven’t walked a lot in the French Quarter lately because my girlfriend just moved out of there, but that’s where I feel like so many buildings—or really any block in the Quarter—has those characteristics. You can walk around there same block 12 times, and you wouldn’t necessarily realize that you’ve done that.
The architecture and the intricacies are so interesting. That’s why I’m thinking that the Pontalba buildings would be a good choice. Every time I walk past those I see some new ironwork or an architectural design that is unique to those. There’s something that pops out with those buildings.
Q: What’s something you’ve always wanted to say but never had the chance to?
A: Well, with Escape My Room, I can’t really talk about the puzzles with anyone. Otherwise, they’ll know how to solve them, and that would ruin it for them when they come to the museum. You really have to design the puzzles in this weird kind of vacuum and then test them without telling other people.
You can explain the concept to people, but you can’t tell them about the cool little things. The only way they can learn is to actually come to the museum. And people don’t want to know prior to being there either because they want to experience the challenge for the first time.
I’ve never actually spilled the information. The first room, my girlfriend helped with, and now that we have staff, so I can talk about the puzzles with them. I’ll bounce ideas off of my dad, who runs the Abita Mystery House in Abita Springs. But when I’m at a party with friends and we’re talking about work, I can’t really talk about too much.
Q: What phobia do you think would be interesting to have for a while?
A: Some people have phobias to handcuffs, being locked up, or being constrained, and that would be interesting to explore to see how it feels to react to something like that. It’d be strange and interesting to explore a phobia that isn’t as common, like a phobia of iron tables.
Also, claustrophobia would be an interesting one to explore as well, especially since the museum has these smaller rooms. The rooms comfortably fit the amount of people we let in, but as I understand it, claustrophobia can be about just being stuck in a room. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with the size of the room.
We do have a panic button in the rooms, so people can always push that and be let out. Some people are still nervous about pushing it though. We’ve only had two instances where people have pushed the panic button.
One was when there were people from a tour company I’d given free tickets to. They had 10 people in the room. The room isn’t designed for that, but they decided to go in anyway. Once they were in, two of them decided that they weren’t as smart as the rest, and they wanted to go have a cigarette, so they hit the panic button.
The other one was a person who pushed the button because he had to go to the bathroom. He was farting really badly and everyone in the room was trying to kick him out. Finally he came out.
Andrew Preble is the puzzle designer for and facilitator of Escape My Room. You can experience the conspiracy surrounding the DeLaporte family and test your skills at puzzles at Escape My Room. Visit their website for tickets, as well as follow them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.