Organized Confusion

Staying focused in a creative agency.

Drowning It Out.

As you may now know, I’ve been tasked with writing weekly status updates for my intern project at Struck—I’m creating a zine that will showcase some of our talented folks and their work. The zine will also offer a brief history of the agency.

Overall, the project has been moving along at a steady pace. I’ve taken a crash course in InDesign. I’ve learned the basics of creating a publication from scratch. However, all of this has not been without a little trial and tribulation.

During the course of my internship I’ve been posed with a load of new challenges, not least of which has been adapting to the organized chaos of working within a creative agency. Of all the hurdles this job has entailed, learning to stay focused and concentrated with a whirlwind of activity, discussion and all manner of hustle and bustle happening around me has been one of the most exacting challenges.

As a club DJ, I am somewhat used to a hectic work environment. If you can concentrate on what you’re doing with the cacophony of drunken shouting, dancing and 22 year-olds tugging on your sleeve every 10 minutes to request their favorite Justin Bieber song, you should be able to handle ANY distractions…right? Not exactly.

My other hectic work environment — The Club .

All my life — as far as creative projects are concerned — I’ve worked the most effectively in a peaceful environment: the library, a coffee shop or, more often than not, within the privacy of my own home work space. And if I’m not working in total silence, I may listen to some chill instrumental music at a low volume (but that’s about the extent of sound). In any case, I’ve always been used to designing with little to no distractions. You can imagine the change of pace I was in for when I first came to Struck.

Being in a room full of creative minds, busting out creative work simultaneously at a breakneck pace doesn’t always make for what I would describe as a quiet business. It’s often quite the opposite. Though there are definitely the peaceful stretches of the day when everyone is working diligently behind their screens all at once, there is also the regular creative commotion that is simply a part of the daily flow of agency life.

When I first started working in the Salt Lake City office I immediately wondered how people stayed focused amidst all the hubbub. I saw various aids of concentration in use, from noise canceling headphones to multiple cups of coffee. Sometimes just taking a step back from the task at hand and breathing deeply seemed to do the trick. In any case, people were producing amazing work in a timely manner within what I considered an incredibly sidetracking environment. All of this blew my mind. How was I going to adapt to this kind of work habitat?

Then, all at once it hit me. Could it be that I was looking at things all wrong? I hadn’t yet considered that maybe — just maybe — the vibrancy, energy and noisiness all around me were not at all detrimental, but rather necessary for a creative environment. Perhaps the hubbub was absolutely integral to creative thinking…

I realized that learning to embrace a little bit of commotion may well be the secret key to creative success in an agency like Struck. It should be used for one’s advantage, not avoided.

Learning to go with the flow may take a little getting used to, but I now know it will be one of the cornerstones of my success.


James Ramirez is a DJ, freelance graphic designer and cinephile. When he’s not digging for used records he’s searching local strip malls for the best ethnic food. Right now he’s also the summer design intern at Struck.


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