Hallmark Production Designer
Started at Hallmark:
July 10, 2000
Started at Keepsakes:
Kansas City, Missouri
Jake Angell has lived in Kansas City his entire life, surrounded by the likes of G.I. Joe and He-Man as favored playmates in his childhood. It didn’t take long for Jake to pick up drawing as a hobby, teaching himself illustration between lessons. “In school, classwork was self-paced, so I’d finish my work and just draw all day long.”
He studied graphic design in college, eventually learning illustration techniques in his own time that strengthened his passion for art. He’s worked for Hallmark for over a decade, but 2013 was his first year designing Keepsake Ornaments. “After working with packaging and game design for Asteroid Andy and various other products, I kept using and teaching 3-D programs on the side. Finally, I bugged the Keepsake Ornament team long enough for them to say: ok, we’d really like to get Jake up here to try it out!”
Today Jake is stilling trying out new things and dreaming of his favorite characters.
“I’ve got two kids and it’s really amazing to see my little boy discover all these great characters that I grew up loving, too.”
What kind of animal would love to fly but can’t? A penguin!
That’s the image that kept popping into Jake Angell’s head when they were brainstorming new music ornaments and he heard the song “Fly” performed by Sugar Ray.
And how do you help a penguin fly? Well, with a jet pack, of course!
Jake, who usually works with pop culture characters from superheroes to Star Wars™, had a lot of fun coming up with a character that was all his own. And after a bunch of different sketches, his team finally found the one they all loved.
“This was one of the characters I developed, so I was really glad they picked it,” Jake said. “It’s nice to put your own style into it, a refreshing change of pace. He has more of a simple, cute look to him than a lot of the things I do.”
In the end, it was the perfect match with the 1997 hit song, which plays when you push the button on his green scarf. Previously, Jake had worked a head-bangin’ snowman featuring “I Want to Rock and Roll All Nite” performed by Kiss and a glittering western-wear Santa that plays “Rhinestone Cowboy” performed by Glen Campbell.
“We design with the songs in mind,” Jake says.
One of the other great things about creating an ornament like this? Sometimes one of your business partners comes back from a concert in Florida with a signed copy. Hallmark District Manager Vanessa Frederick often brings ornaments to shows on the off chance she can catch one of the band members.
“Her son is a drummer, so they love going to all those shows,” Jake said.
One year she took a white elephant ornament (“I Want You to Want Me”) to a Cheap Trick concert. In the case of the flying penguin, Sugar Ray’s lead singer, Mark McGrath, was more than happy to sign a few and fly home with a couple extras for himself.
Touchdown Snoopy (2016)
Like a lot of Generation Xers, Jake grew up reading Peanuts® comic strips in the newspaper every morning. He liked to cut out his favorites and save them. He also got a kick out of the original animated specials.
Fewer kids read the newspaper today, but Jake’s still teaching the next generation of fans to appreciate Peanuts®—and not just with ornaments. He took his 7-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter to see The Peanuts Movie in 3-D when it came out last fall.
“My son really got into it,” Jake says. “They both really liked it.”
One of the most beloved Peanuts characters, of course, is Snoopy. And this personalized Snoopy ornament allows football fans and Snoopy fans alike to make it their own. The ornament comes with stickers that let you add a name.
Jake said one of the biggest challenges was finding the perfect balance between Snoopy and the large ball. And speaking of 3-D, Jake used the studio’s 3-D printing machine to test the size combinations and get it right.
The ornament is part of a quartet of Peanuts® personalized ornaments, the others featuring baseball, soccer and basketball.
Lights! Grandkids! Action! (2016)
When Jake started working on concepts for a photo holder ornament, he thought about all the time his son and daughter get to spend with their grandparents. From playing games to watching movies, they’ve had a lot of quality time together over the past decade. Jake’s parents live close by in Kansas City, and his wife’s parents are just a couple hours away in Belleville, Kansas.
“It’s so cool that they can hang out together so much,” Jake says. “They see my wife’s parents probably three or four times a year, and they see my parents quite a bit.”
The Keepsake Studio makes several photo holders every year, and they usually go through a lot of ideas before they settle on just the right ones.
“We’re always wanting to change it up a little,” Jake says.
The final design symbolizes all the fun times they’ve had along the way. Jake did the initial sketches for the design, and another Keepsake Artist, Matt Johnson, helped him finish out the concept.
“Since my folks are in town, they see all the ornaments I do,” Jake says. “Now I have all the grandparents asking for one of these.”
When Jake made his debut into the Keepsake ornament line it was quite spooky!
It was 2013, he had already worked at Hallmark for 13 years, and the ornament was the Halloween “Stand Up Skeleton!”