Now, the title of this blog post may seem to have a negative connotation but that’s just one of the biggest problems with social isn’t it? This blog post is the product of a long, extensive, and exhausting creative internship experience at Red Tettemer + O’Connell Partners (RTO+P) and the amazing observations that came along with it.
I jumped on board RTO+P as a creative designer after finishing my Sophomore year at Temple University. I have done creative work for The Art Directors Club of Philadelphia, National Student Advertising Competition, and a previous design internship at a small design studio, but this would be my first experience as a creative in a tried and true ad agency. Leading up to my internship, I realized that I had developed unwarranted expectations surrounding what working as a creative/designer in an ad agency like RTO+P would be like. When I say expectations, I mean things like creative environment, interaction, workflow, etc. All of these expectations were shaped by classes, previous experiences, and tall tales from past interns.
What were these expectations? Well as an aspiring creative, I have always been in love with the creative process. Everything that comes with the initial conception of an idea to the final execution is what drew me to art direction initially. My expectations for the creative department at RTO+P were almost like an action movie. I would walk into the creative department where the walls were crazy colors and covered in artwork; The music would be cranked and the designers and writers would be kicked back and collaborating on the newest project; Good ideas would be effortlessly spouting from the creative geniuses that filled the room; The celebrations were big and the kudos were strong. However, what is the only thing missing from this image? – That would be the work… The designers actually designing, and the writers actually writing. This was something that I realized after my first week in my position and I can say that I enjoy what the creative department truly has to offer much more than this action-packed creative soap opera I had playing in my head. Let me explain…
What is the creative department in RTO+P really like and what does it truly have to offer? Well the crazy colored walls and artwork filling the space is one-hundred percent accurate. On the walls of the RTO+P creative department lives deer heads, poster prints, sculptures, and anything else you could imagine. The walls are green, yellow, blue, and even… red. When I was first shown to my workspace I was taken into the production studio. I was set-up with everything a creative would need to succeed (See attached picture). But it was dead silent. No one was playing music, there were no toasts being made, no one was collaborating. What I did see was production artists, art directors, and interactive designers staring at their computer screens with their headphones in immersed in their work. For that second I was confused. But at the same time I recognized something very familiar as I surveyed the space. They all reminded me of… me. When I am designing, I am immersed in my work, I talk to no one, I don’t let any distractions get in my way of producing my very best work.
As I went through my the beginning weeks of my creative position, I realized that the quieter the department is, the harder they are working. The great ideas, aren’t born in the creative department, that is where they are developed. It is like a big machine, with everyone working on their small pieces of the project, the hardest they possibly can. The ideas are born outside of the agency; While you are walking your dog, in the shower, mowing your lawn. The creative department of RTO+P is the engine of the agency. The kudos aren’t handed out with high fives and toasts. The kudos are handed out with simple thanks, and “good jobs” as your job is to simply do the best you can.