The First Is for the Dog!

How the creative process is a lot like making crepes.

I’m not a great cook, but I do like to try. One of the things I enjoy making most is crepes. Years ago, French friends made them for our oldest son when he stayed for supper one evening. I decided after that to learn how to make them and have been making them ever since.

Something about crepes though, frustrates me. No matter what you do, the first one always, and I mean without exception, sticks to the pan. I’m always grumbling under my breath as I try hopelessly to get the spatula under it without tearing it apart.

Well, the French have a saying for this: “La première, c’est pour le chien.” Which means “The first is for the dog.” You see, crepe batter is full of butter, and that first crepe literally “greases the pan” for the rest. After that first one, crepe production is smooth — as butter!

So, what do crepes have to do with creative development? Glad you asked.

Over the years I have noticed creatives of all kinds who get frustrated early in the process. Writers make a first draft and it comes back from the Creative Director or the client marked up and full of edits. Designers put forth their best initial ideas only to have them rejected or questioned so much as to think their entire effort was a waste of time. No one likes to scrape that first idea off the pan and toss it to the dogs.

But, here’s what happens. Those early ideas that get rejected are as much a part of the process as that first crepe. Clients often have no idea how to approach their creative. That’s why they hire us. We need to get the ideas flowing and that means putting something out there.

So, armed with creative briefs and a deep dive into the client’s brand, products and services, we kick off brainstorming sessions, generate ideas and wrap them in a pretty presentation thinking our job is finished. But, it’s only just begun.

While the dog chows down on that first crepe, we tweak, polish and refine our ideas. What we learned from greasing the pan becomes an important step in our producing some really great work.

Remember, there’s a lot more batter where that first crepe came from and that perfect one is in there waiting to be cooked up and served.

Ed Collevecchio, Creative Associates