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Style Guide: Forever Experimenting with KITCHEN


Jelly director duo on playful and energetic storytelling, staying truthful to illustrator's designs and having a dynamic style with a clear story

Style Guide: Forever Experimenting with KITCHEN

KITCHEN are a director duo with a passion for imaginative storytelling, heartfelt narratives, and spirited character design. Led by George Coffey and Rachinta Platts, KITCHEN often pairs a bold design style with dynamic transitions, bringing warmth, humour and a feel-good factor with their direction, whatever the story. If they aren’t collaborating with leading illustration talent to create bespoke, high-quality animated campaigns, they are designing and directing with global clients including Amex, Adidas, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and Specsavers, as well as forging on-going relationships with brands such as Dark Arts Coffee.

LBB> How would you describe the work that you do?

KITCHEN> We are animation directors who like to direct projects that have energetic and playful storytelling. We always look to build upon our techniques and never stand still with our execution. We like to challenge ourselves, whether that's with camera movements, the way characters move, the design of the project or how we could tell this story differently.

LBB> And do you have a particular style (or styles) that you like to work in? If so, how would you describe that?

KITCHEN> Our skills really shine with organic and fluid movement. That can be seen in any medium that fits the project. Our art style leans towards a hand drawn textured approach. Bringing in a lot of warmth and depth. We also collaborate with illustrators and artists too, using their designs as a foundation for our storytelling. We will always be truthful to the illustrator's designs but look to direct the animation in a typical KITCHEN way. Lots of transitions and twists and turns keeping the audience's attention.

LBB> How did you gravitate towards the particular medium you work in?

KITCHEN> Like a lot of animation directors, we’ve been drawing all our life. We’ve got square eyes from watching cartoons and reading comics, so we couldn’t do anything else. Directing and especially directing animation, really gives us the tools to bring great animators in to create what we love from the inspiration we have accumulated consciously or subconsciously over the years.

LBB> And when you started developing your creative skills and styles, what were your inspirations and influences?

George> Intros to all the cartoons I watched as a kid. Don’t ever remember what happened in the series but have the Transformers intro imprinted in my mind like a ‘Heart FM’ logo burnt onto a TV screen in the pub from leaving it on too long. 

Rachinta> My childhood was spent reading manga and watching cartoons. My favourites were The Last Unicorn and both Disney’s and a 70’s anime version of The Little Mermaid (I love that vintage anime style). Then later on, I was introduced to graphic novels such as Ghost World, Ripple: A Predilection for Tina and the Saga series. A recent great read was The Incal that George kindly lent to me. It took me a few years to return it. I don’t think he’ll lend me another book.

LBB> How has your style evolved over time - and can you talk to us about some of the stylistic experiments or avenues you’ve explored over the years? 

KITCHEN> Our style is always evolving, and we’re forever experimenting. Keeping our style transferable, but still true to our fundamentals. We’ve worked in 2D, 3D and VR. We have also even done a lot of physical work - drawing on walls, painting on sets and stop motion. This has helped us learn how to bring a fun style, and engaging movement to every brief.

LBB> And was there any one particular moment or project that really crystallised your understanding of what your style is or should be? If so, can you tell us about it?

KITCHEN> After animating a couple of pieces for artists on the Jelly roster, we knew we could collaborate with them and direct pieces by building on the illustrators’ designs. We pushed projects to be more than a gif and exhibited how the artwork could work with a moving story behind it. Working with other artists as well as on our own projects helped us find the style/approach we describe as 'typically KITCHEN'.

LBB> What sort of ideas shape your style today?

KITCHEN> Excitement. We want everything we make to be engaging and exciting - a dynamic style with a clear story. Collaboration is also very important to us. Creative conversations give us a fresh perspective and keep us current. 

LBB> From NFTs to the metaverse, there are more spaces for your work to show up - what are your thoughts on the impact, challenges and opportunities brought up by these new spaces? And do they influence how you think about your style (ie. is there pressure to adapt or change your style to fit these new digital frontiers - or is it kind of exciting?)

KITCHEN> We feel everything will always change and develop. You can’t spend too much energy worrying about that or trying to make things stay the way they are, otherwise there’s a danger of feeling stale. 

If you have a good work ethic and willingness to learn, mixed with a good understanding of the fundamentals of animation and storytelling, then you will be fine. Stories have been told forever, the way they have been told has come a long way since drawing them on cave walls but yet we still do it. So we find it exciting to work in whatever space that will have us and will approach them the way we always do, with enthusiasm, excitement and open mindedness to what is achievable.

LBB> Working in the commercial sphere, is it more important for an artist to have a distinct brand or style? What’s the balance having a distinctive voice and being able to accommodate the visual language of the brand/campaign?

KITCHEN> We believe we have our own style of storytelling and movement, and it comes through in everything we do. But it’s also important to deliver the aims of the brief, and we work closely with brands to achieve that.

We are slightly different from other artists in that we design and direct our own work, but we also collaborate with other artists to add an animated storytelling element to their work. Having the Jelly Artist roster gives us a great opportunity to present a range of styles, and we can work closely with the artists to deliver the client’s message as effectively as possible. Of course, if the client has a different approach in mind, we’ll work with them and the artist to find something that works for everyone.

LBB> Typically, on a commercial project, how do you like to tackle a brief?

KITCHEN> It varies depending on the client and how prescriptive their brief is, but mostly our approach starts with scribbling down ideas - compositions, journeys, and some key moments we want to explore. We then move on to motion tests, storyboards, animatics, and then, obviously, animation. We find that studio conversations help move everything forward - working in a studio helps you be more objective about a project and the best approach for the brief.

LBB> What projects have you worked on recently that you feel were a really satisfying marriage between a brand and your own style? What was it about these projects that made them really interesting to work on?

KITCHEN> We felt Amex 'Gold' (American Express) was a good example of this. It was great to be a part of such a campaign that was shot so beautifully and we could integrate our style into it.

We went down on the day of shooting to answer any questions on whether the animation will work with specific shots. Was good to get away from the computer and into the real world for the day.

We are not always involved in that part and will normally be sent the footage for us to work with so we felt this gave another layer of integration. It was nice to work with a limiting colour palette that we felt really tied it to their branding even if the illustrations were different from what you might expect from Amex.

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Jelly London, Thu, 13 Apr 2023 13:09:10 GMT