Lincoln Journal Star art director adjusting to new position well
By Alex Lantz
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
It’s been a smooth transition for Clark Grell since he took a new position as art director at the Lincoln Journal Star after transferring from the sports department in January of 2013.
Grell, 32, was asked to take the newly created job because of his outstanding page design work during his stint as assistant sports editor at the paper.
His new desk is just 30 feet away from where it used to be, and he’s been able to focus more of his attention on special design features, which he sees as his biggest strength. (It’s easy to see why he thinks that with more examples here.)
He didn’t always want to be a page designer, though. When he graduated from Beatrice High School in Beatrice, Neb., he enrolled in the journalism program at Northwest Missouri State with aspirations of becoming a writer or getting involved in advertising.
That changed in college. When he left Northwest Missouri State during his senior year to take a job at the Columbus Telegram in Columbus, Neb., he saw a higher demand for page designers. He discovered that he had more of a knack for designing pages than he did for reporting, and soon moved into an assistant sports editor position at the St. Joseph News-Press in St. Joseph, Mo.
Grell came back to Nebraska a few years later to take a copy/design editor position at the Journal Star and was promoted to assistant sports editor soon after. Although the art director position allows him to spend most of his energy doing what he likes most, he said he still misses certain things about the assistant sports editor job.
“Probably the thing I miss most is working directly with the people in sports because they’re just fantastic to work with,” Grell said. “There are a lot of hard-working people in that department that are very passionate about their beats and very passionate about what we try to do. I feel like I’m kind of that way as well, so I thought I fit in with them well and it was great to be a part of that environment.”
He still works with sports at times, making detailed designs for in-depth features, but he doesn’t get the chance to work with the department as directly as he used to.
Grell also said that he is still open to future opportunities and has given serious thought to the possibility of Web design down the road. In a way, Grell’s career path has been a microcosm of the journalism world in his acceptance of and ability to change, although he seems to have found a long-term position at the Journal Star.
“When I got into the real world and went from Columbus to St. Joe and St. Joe to Lincoln, I had the mindset that I just wanted to keep going up higher and higher,” he said. “The jobs were better paying the higher you got but there was also more opportunities within that job. Eventually, when I got to Lincoln, I just wanted to stay for a while. I’ve gotten comfortable here, I really like it here and there are just a lot of good things about working in Lincoln.”
His advice for recent graduates and journalism students reflects his own willingness to change.
“I am always open to looking at other things down the road and I think you have to be that way because it’s really hard to judge where this profession is going,” he said. “I think that anybody who wants to stay in this business has to realize, you know, things are changing so fast that you just have to be open to other options and be able to adapt to something else.”