Shot glasses and Batman figures: A look at the collections of agency creatives

Stamps, coins and comics are for your grandfather. Agency creatives get a bit more, well, creative with the swag they collect — be it records, Batman paraphernalia or salt and pepper shakers.

We asked a few of the agency world’s more renowned creatives to tell us about their favorite collectibles. Whether passionate about shot glasses or motorcycles, these creatives find inspiration both in the office and out with their offbeat gewgaws.

A sampling:

Rob Reilly, global creative chairman, McCann Worldgroup: Midcentury chairs
Reilly fell in love with furniture when he first moved to New York City in the early ’90s, after a friend introduced him to his collection of midcentury furniture. He has been drawn to midcentury chairs specifically since then, building a collection of between 30 and 50 of them, from a Bertoia wire chair to a Penguin Rocker by Kofoed Larsen. He is, admittedly, somewhat “manic” about them. “Chairs to me represent both form and function — they are really comfortable, look great and are also utilitarian,” he said. “I guess for me, a lot of great advertising is that too: incredibly crafted but also incredibly useful.”

Tor Myhren, president and chief creative officer, Grey Worldwide: Maneki-nekos
Myhren, a lover of all things Japanese, has scattered his collection of maneki-neko cat figurines throughout the Grey offices near New York’s Madison Square Park. Japanese for “beckoning cat,” maneki-neko are common lucky charms made of ceramic or plastic believed to bring good luck to their owner.

Rich Guest, president, Tribal Worldwide – North America: Batman figures
Guest started out collecting Justice League action figures — and had over 80 on display at his office at one time. He then decided to limit his collection to all things Batman, donating the rest of his superhero collection to kids of various Tribal staffers. He now has about 40 Dark Knights.

One of Guest’s favorite Batman figures

So intense is Guest about his collection that at one point former Batman star Val Kilmer stopped by the office to chat about the figurines. “I focused my collecting on Batman figures because he was both my favorite superhero and tied to my first memories of advertising,” said Guest. “They’re great conversation pieces with all types of people.”

Rafael Rizuto, executive creative director, 180LA: Shot glasses
Shot glasses may be touristy kitsch, but to Rizuto, they are an “obsession” — and his way of bringing his travels home with him. He has been collecting shot glasses for over 10 years, and has amassed more than a 100 of them from London to San Francisco to New Orleans and Detroit. He is, he said, “terrified” of flying, and believes they have served as his “lucky amulets.”

Some of the shot glasses in Rizuto’s collection


Rizuto has relocated to several cities throughout his career, but the one thing that he hasn’t gotten rid of is his shot glass collection. “They’ve been through a lot — from women trying to get rid of them to Hurricane Sandy,” said Rizuto. “Some are chipped, some crooked, without labels that I almost cannot recognize where they come from. But every single one transports me to a place and a time. They are like little time machines, and I love every single one of them.”

Jason Peterson, chief creative officer, Havas Worldwide Chicago: Vinyl records
Peterson began collecting records when he was 13 but was forced to part ways with some of his most valuable records — including that of his favorite hardcore punk band Minor Threat — to pay for ad school. That served as a big motivation for him to excel in his career though in order to buy them back. 

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Peterson’s vinyl collection arranged meticulously on his Crate & Barrel shelf


Today, he has over 5,000 LPs and 10,000 EPs meticulously alphabetized and shelved across several genres: punk, hardcore, jazz and R&B. “The great thing about vinyl is that you have to present to be listen to it,” said Peterson. “It’s not just playing in the background, it’s a visceral experience.”

Charles Fulford, group creative director, Huge: Bourbon
For Fulford, what began as competitive research for his own bourbon company, has emerged as a pet passion for him over the past seven years.

Fulford’s bourbon rack


Since the demand for bourbon has skyrocketed in recent years, finding rare bottles of significant age has become next to impossible. It’s a challenge he relishes. “I’ve taken a couple of field trips to rural Kentucky to find some of the rarer bottles in my collection, like the Vintage Rye (23 years) from Willett,” said Fulford.

Simone Nobili, creative director, Cutwater: Harley Davidson motorcycles
For Nobili, the growl of a Harley Davidson engine captures the essence of the American Dream — his first memory of the iconic brand is from an old commercial in his native Italy for chewing gum: The protagonist was riding a “Fat Boy” across the Brooklyn Bridge. Nobili has been collecting Harley Davidson motorcycles since he was 22 and has had nine of them over the years — several of which he still owns.

Nobili pictured with one of his bikes


Each motorcycle reminds him of a different city he’s lived in throughout the years, including Rome, Milan, Hamburg, London, New York, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. “When I moved to New York City, the first thing I did was to cross the Brooklyn Bridge with my Harley Davidson. It was a very spiritual moment,” he said.

Mark Simon, chief creative officer, Campbell Ewald: Salt and pepper shakers

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Simon’s inaugural JFK salt and pepper shaker

For Simon, the ability to take something that’s an everyday part of life and make it more interesting – and still functional – is the essence of great design. That is why he has been collecting a thing as banal as salt and pepper shakers for the last 25 years. He has at least 200 sets, stocked in three cabinets, including a “JFK inaugural salt and pepper shaker” that has Kennedy sitting in a chair. “To make the mundane extraordinary is a great creative challenge,” he said. “Collecting salt and pepper shakers is kind of a Zen thing – the yin and the yang.”

Kinney Edwards, executive creative director, Tribal Worldwide-New York: Scale car models
Edwards can’t remember exactly when his model cars went from being just toys to collectibles, but he thinks it was when he was introduced to “the tiny glory that were Micro Machines.” Since then, he has continued collecting scale model cars connected by various themes. He has a small fleet of vintage Audi scale models, a group of classic muscle and sports cars that look as though they were left to rot in a junkyard and a bunch of race-themed cars made out of wood.

The “General Lee” from Edwards’ collection


“To me, cars are exemplary of form following function. I love the variation in design and all of the ingenuity that goes into a car,” he said. “Being in a car and on the open road, is one of the most relaxing and meditative things for me. I love that feeling of connection between man and machine that only a car with a full tank of gas and your will to go the distance can provide.”

Shenan Reed, president of digital, North America, MEC: High heels
It may be a bit of a cliché, but nothing makes Reed feel more empowered than when she is donning a pair of high heels. A former dancer, she started collecting them after her daughter was born eight years ago and has about 40 pairs in total. She keeps most of them on display at work but makes sure that there are always one or two pairs at home or in transit for travel or events.

Some of Reed’s heels on display at work


“I keep them on display because I think they are beautiful,” she said. “They are a wide variety of designers and value, and I think it would be a shame to only see them when I’m wearing them. They also make for a great conversation piece in the office, a beautiful decoration, and it makes it easy for me to see what pair I want to wear.”

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