The Creative Kitchen

Originally published on LinkedIn in July, 2023.

I learned more about how creative teams should be run from watching shows about restaurants than I have from working in most ad agencies.

It comes down to two things: communication and attention to detail.

In Hell’s Kitchen (don’t scoff, Gordon Ramsay knows how to run a kitchen), Gordon preaches the virtues of communicating. Sure enough, when people don’t communicate things break down. People don’t eat. Gordon Screams. Etc. But when people communicate, call out timing, and keep everyone informed of where they are in the process… magic happens.

You can have all the talent in the world on your team, but unless people are talking to each other it’s less like a symphony and more like a drum circle. You might get the occasional greatness, but it’s more by chance than anything sustainable.

The Bear is another great example. [Spoiler alert since I know people are still making their way through the season].

In season 2 episode 7 Carmie sends Richie to work at the top restaurant in Chicago for a week. He laments being put on fork polishing duty as a 46 year old.

Over the course of the week he comes to understand the point. To instill that details matter, no matter how small. If you’re a junior or intern who’s annoyed by the low end work you’re doing, try to see the bigger picture. 

Owning a deck helps you understand design. 

Pay attention to margins and placement. Make sure things line up on a grid and that elements don’t jump around by a pixel or two as you move through the deck. Make it clean, make it precise, make it look professional because you’re a professional now and sending a sloppy deck to client should make you feel embarassed. If you’re a writer read all the copy, see how higher level creatives write their scripts and writeups. How do they write not only the idea but the copy that will sell the idea.

Making sure every fork is clean and has no smudges is the same. If you don’t care about the small details, you’ll never be able to pull off the big stuff. Details build on each other.

Leading, kerning, typography, scale, proportion, color, etc. You internalize them by paying attention to them. You get all that in deck building and then you bring it with you to meatier projects. Understand the opportunity you’re being given instead of dreading it.

Every agency has the potential to be fine dining or fast food. What separates them starts in the kitchen.

– Josh D. Weiss is a Co-Founder of The Side Show and Freelance Associate Creative Director

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