Sharon Visker has been a Hallmark artist for over 35 years. In that time she’s worked as an illustrator, and become an accomplished Keepsake Artist with experience in many mediums. What Sharon loves the most about her job is the kinship she feels with her fellow artists. “We’re such a tight-knit group,” she says. “We help each other and can call on each other when we’re working on something to get other’s input. I landed in a good place.”
Her mother seemed to be taking an art class or immersing herself in an art project during every spare moment. Her brother seemed to be able to draw just about anything. And in an atmosphere where art seemed like a part of everyday life, it was only natural that Sharon Visker would want to give it a try.
She quickly discovered she was unusually good at it. So good, in fact, that her friends would offer to buy the bubble gum cards she copied for fun. Which made Sharon realize she had the ability to be an artist who could make people notice her work.
Throughout grade school and high school, the opportunities for Sharon’s work to be noticed occurred frequently and took various forms. She created elaborate bulletin board displays, designed yearbooks, entered—and won—numerous art competitions.
Her exceptional talent eventually brought her to Hallmark, where, after 15 years as an illustrator, she participated in a woodcarving workshop and discovered a knack she didn’t know she had. A knack for sculpting—which she’s been exercising ever since for the enjoyment of Keepsake Ornaments collectors.
Tradition, craftsmanship, quality: all words that describe Keepsake Ornaments. How about “fun?” You bet! And perhaps no other Keepsake Artist has put fun at the center of her work than long-time artist Sharon Visker. In 2019, Sharon brings us a beautiful Heritage nutcracker, and makes two more big additions to the fun category with Fleece Navidad and Tiki Tidings.
Charming Nutcracker (2019)
Because they’re blown glass, Heritage ornaments are already done a little bit differently than most Keepsake Ornaments. On top of that, Sharon added her own twist to the process. “Normally, the artist creates a sketch or digital render, and that image is sent to our partners in Poland to recreate the ornament in glass. But instead of a sketch, I sculpted and painted a piece that our partners then used to create the glass ornament.”
Sharon was pretty sure that her love of color was a factor in her being asked to work on this year’s Charming Nutcracker. “I have a real passion for color. As you can see, this isn’t very traditional coloring for a nutcracker. I loved adding my spin on it. It seems to give him a little bit of a different character than most other nutcrackers.”
Some features that are easily done in a sculpt can’t be recreated in glass, so the collaboration between the artist and our artisan partners is often ongoing throughout the process. “You can still tell it’s from my original sculpt,” Sharon explained, “but it’s a glass version, so it takes on the attributes of that. It was fun to work on, and I enjoyed the ways that it’s different from everything else we do.”
Fleece Navidad (2019)
“I like puns, and even though this one is an oldie, it’s a fun one! I like being able to incorporate humor into my work wherever I can,” Sharon shared. “This one is so different from our usual take on Feliz Navidad, and I hope a broad audience will enjoy it.”
Sharon has worked on ornaments that have used the song Feliz Navidad, written and performed by José Feliciano, several times. “They’ve typically been more serious and culturally specific. Though one year I did a mariachi snowman that played the song. There’s nothing deep underlying this one, it’s just meant to be fun!”
Tiki Tidings (2019)
Keepsake Artist Sharon Visker has visited Tahiti a couple times, and on her visits there, she found herself drawn to the tiki carvings displayed in the markets. “I love wood carvings, and I’m fascinated with Polynesian culture,” she explains. But the journey from inspiration to ornament wasn’t exactly a straight line. “The first thing I was inspired to make was a giant cardboard tiki. I built it in a workshop as a costume for my boss to wear in our Hallmark Halloween costume contest.”
After posting pictures of the finished costume on the Keepsakes Community page, Keepsake Ornament Club members told her how cool they thought it was and that they hoped to see it as an ornament one day. So, when the opportunity arose, Sharon took a photo of it to a design meeting and proposed it as a Keepsake Ornament. Given the go-ahead, she naturally took the opportunity to reimagine her creation.
“It’s similar to the giant tiki in some ways. The mouth is generally the same, but of course I had to add the color and the Santa hat and the Christmas tree to make it fun and festive!” Sharon shared that traditional tiki aren’t usually colored like this one, so that’s her personal touch on an age-old tradition. “So many things came together in this ornament. Culture, color, carving, costumes—it was great to be able to incorporate all of those things into this one, fun piece.”