Artist Profile: Orville Wilson

Hallmark Production Artist
(Sculptor IV)

Started at Hallmark:

July 19, 1996

Started at Keepsakes:
December 2006

Kansas City, Kansas

Ever since Orville was in grade school, he wanted to be an artist. Because his mother liked to draw, she encouraged him to pursue a career in art. While in high school, he always participated in art fairs with his drawings and paintings.

After college, he held a variety of design jobs ranging from working for a screen print company to one that produced sports trading cards—all of which prepared him for a job at Hallmark. He started his career at Hallmark in season cards, but was always interested in Keepsake 3—D designing and was happy to be selected to work with this group.

Outside of work, he enjoys travel, martial arts (Kung Fu) and video gaming. Not surprisingly, one of his favorite ornaments that he has worked on was based on the Pac-Man® arcade game which he always loved playing!

Orville’s Ornament Gallery
Orville’s Ornament List


Family Truckster Takes Flight (2016)
National Lampoon’s Vacation

Whenever Orville Wilson starts working on an ornament that celebrates an iconic pop-culture moment, he always goes back to the source.

Family Truckster Takes Flight

“I have to get back to that scene to make sure I’m remembering it correctly. And it was really fun just to go back through and watch the actual movie again,” Orville says. “I’m a big fan of the whole series.”

He saw the original Vacation with his mom back in 1983, when it first came out. He and his mom loved going to movies together at the historic theater in downtown Kansas City, Mo., that used to be called the Empire (now the Alamo). It’s where they saw Jaws, Star Wars, and The Empire Strikes Back.

Since becoming a Keepsake artist, Orville has worked on a number of ornaments representing legendary scenes from movie history. For the Vacation series, Orville also created A Bright and Merry Christmas, which shows Clark Griswold lighting up his entire house.

To capture the sense of motion when the Griswold family Truckster goes through the barricade in the middle of the desert, Orville used an animation program. He put a specific filter over the image of the barricade to show the wood splintering. “That gave it more of a real feel, with the parts and pieces broken up. It looks the way it would look if it were cracked open in real life.”

The ornament also features the sounds from that memorable scene.



Orville’s not just interested in recent cinema. He remembers seeing THE WIZARD OF OZ™ as an 8-year-old, visiting his grandparents’ house. He thinks he’s seen it 20 more times since then. “They play it every year,” Orville says. “It’s a classic.”

He describes this ornament as a memorable snapshot. The YELLOW BRICK ROAD™ winds toward the city, which lights up and plays a portion of “We’re Off to See the Wizard.” LED lights shine through the green-tinted, glittery structure to create the city’s inner glow.

To create a prototype, Orville used a combination of techniques. For the main part of EMERALD CITY™, he used a graphics program called MODO. For the more detail-oriented foreground, with the YELLOW BRICK ROAD™, the poppies, and grass, he paired MODO with a program called ZBrush. He wanted to make sure the field looked as if it were full of flowers, just like in that sleepy scene with Dorothy and her friends. “It gets you as close as possible to a hand sculptor,” Orville says. “It’s like digital clay.”

Ollivanders Wand Shop (2016)
Harry Potter™

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), Harry visits Diagon Alley to find a proper wand. Orville was more than happy to take on the challenge of paying tribute to that early scene in Ollivanders Wand Shop.

Ollivanders Wand Shop

He gathered any image that showed the shop’s rich detail. Then he started by visually unfolding the main section of the shop as if he were taking apart a packaging box. He put the unfolded image through Photoshop and used individual bricks to create the pattern. As he moved those images back through MODO, it acquired the look of real, sculpted brick.

The shop lights up when the ornament is placed over a standard bulb on a light string. Through the windows, you see the wands stacked up on shelves. And if you look into the “magic” window viewer on the back of the ornament you can see the inside of the shop!

Orville, who has also designed a Hogwarts castle ornament, says he’s a fan of all the movies and enjoyed being able to capture the lighthearted sense of discovery early in the series.


“My 2015 Color Me Happy Keepsake Ornament brings back fun memories of my grandparents’ farm at the holidays—a winter wonderland filled with sledding, snowball fights and snow angels.”

Cinderella’s Castle (2013)
Disney Cinderella

“Everything I do, even sculpting, is on the computer. I do some animation here and there, so I got to create the animation for the light up effects on this ornament. I had to watch Disney’s opening scene with the fireworks display over and over again and I got to look at some of the old Walt Disney cartoons, too. It brought back some good memories from when I was a little kid.

Cinderella’s Castle
Disney Cinderella

This ornament was especially fun to show off during signing event sneak peeks. I asked, ‘any Disney fans out there?’ The Keepsake fans got all excited, I hit the button and when I played it you could just see their jaws drop! The fireworks display goes off with the sound, so it’s really cool.”

Wagon Queen Family Truckster

Wagon Queen Family Truckster (2013)
National Lampoon’s Vacation

“This ornament shows one of the funniest scenes of National Lampoon’s Vacation, but I can’t believe that I was allowed to keep the aunt on the top of the station wagon! There’s a guy here in town that has a replica of the car from the movie, so I actually went out and took pictures of his car for reference. Some of the actors from the film had signed the glove box, so it was pretty cool to get to see that in person. I looked at those photographs for all the little details of the car. I’ve done all the National Lampoon ornaments from the past few years. This year’s plays ‘Holiday Road,’ the theme song from the movie. I have all the National Lampoon movies and I’m a big fan.”


I find inspiration in the work of other 3-D artists—the amount of detail and the creative imagination of the characters and imagery that they come up with.

Themes I’m Drawn To

Sci-fi and toys from my past top the list.

Best Advice

For me, it was, “The learning never stops.” Never stop trying to improve yourself and never say or think that you can’t or won’t make it in this career of art.

Happy Place (when I’m being creative)

I love listening to music when I work. It helps me to focus—to drown out the world and get into my own head space.

Favorite Work of Art (so far)

I really like them all, but the one I really like is the Transformers Megatron.

When I’m Not Working

I have a wife and stepson, and we like to go out to movies and just hang out and enjoy our time off from a busy workweek.