Employee Spotlight: Jon Bell, Copywriter
From Mt. Hood to Megadeth, Jon Bell keeps us guessing. But one thing that doesn’t surprise us is his love for writing and consistent ability to craft compelling stories.
Jon joined Gard in November 2019, having worked previously as a journalist at the Portland Business Journal. He is also a published author. As a copywriter for Gard, he writes a little bit of everything: press releases, op-eds, blog posts, communications plans, advertisements and anything else our clients may need.
We asked Jon about his path and what keeps him going.
What do you like about working at Gard?
Even though I’ve only been here about a year, and even though COVID sent us all to our home offices in March, it’s been great. The team here is awesome: creative, smart, fun to hang out with and rewarding to work with. I also love having more time to spend on each piece I write. Journalism can be fun and exciting, but relentless deadlines can make the work rushed. At Gard, I have more time to give each piece the proper attention.
What led you to writing?
I grew up with a librarian for a mother and a father who was an avid reader and staunch supporter of the local library. I started writing in journals in high school, regularly wrote letters, and always enjoyed rather than despised writing term papers and essays in college. Back in the late 90s, my wife, having seen how much I was writing, suggested that I might try to make a living out of it. That eventually led me to a lucky break and a freelance story in “Backpacker” magazine. From there, it was into community journalism and freelance work.
What work are you most proud of?
That would have to be my book, “On Mount Hood: A Biography of Oregon’s Perilous Peak.” It was the result of years spent exploring the mountain – hiking, paddling, skiing, camping, climbing. That mountain is one of the reasons I have stayed in Oregon, and being able to combine my love of Mt. Hood with my affinity for writing made for an ideal passion project.
If you were not doing this job, what would you want be doing?
Traveling. The Himalayas, Patagonia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Caribbean, the Azores, the Alps. The list is endless. Or I might like to work outside. At one point I wanted to work for the Forest Service.
What’s one thing about you that would surprise us?
I once won a three-day trip to party with the band Megadeth on the beach in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, including a private concert for me and a handful of other winners from around the country. The band had all sobered up by that point, but we partied for them and ate steak and lobster and smoked cigars with them. It was wild.
I’ve also climbed most of the major Cascade peaks and had one of the most memorable naps of my life on the summit of Mt. Rainier.
What is your favorite movie? “Shawshank Redemption” is probably my favorite movie. Not only is it a great story with some memorable lines – “How can you be so obtuse?” – but it was filmed at the old prison in my hometown of Mansfield, Ohio. The historical parts of the prison are still there, and I’ve toured it a couple times. I know a few people who were extras in the movie, and whenever I watch it, I’m taken back to my hometown, even if I’m 2,000 miles away.