Latest News: Artists

Latest News: Artists2020-04-11T17:36:55-06:00

Artist Insights

Here are some Keepsake Artists’ insights into an ornament each has created for 2020.

Holiday Parade
2nd in the series.

Tammy Haddix: “In creating this series, I imagined a holiday parade of vintage trucks that represent business in a nostalgic town–each named after one of my fellow Keepsake artists. My inspiration for this year’s parade entry, Sharon’s Bakery, is Sharon Visker’s sweet series, Season’s Treatings.”

Rocking Horse Memories
1st in the series.

Matt Johnson: “What an honor to reimagine this popular series from the 80s and 90s. I spent a lot of time researching the history of rocking horses and then digitally sculpting for authenticity, balance and scale. I kept the stirrups. bearing rein and tail true to the original series.”

Black-Throated Blue Warbler
The Beauty of Birds
16th in the series.

Edythe Kegrize: “When I consider which bird to add to my series, I look for striking colors and patterns that will show up nicely on a Christmas tree. I was thrilled to run across this charming little bird who just happens to be the first warbler so far in the Beauty of Birds series.”

June 17th, 2020|0 Comments

Experience the Magic: The Art of Sculpting

2019 Keepsake Ornament Club Convention

Last summer, almost 2,000 KOC members gathered in Kansas City for the 2019 Keepsake Ornament Club Convention. Some fan favorite games and seminars were held, including a new sculpting seminar given by some of our Keepsake Artists!

“The idea for the sculpting seminar actually came from our KOC Convention planning team,” said Keepsake Artist Nello Williams. “We had to figure out how to hold the seminar so attendees could follow along while making their own sculpts.”

With only 40 minutes to complete a full sculpt, Nello and other artists were challenged to help attendees create a nice complete piece. After brainstorming with the team, one of Nello’s personal hobbies gave him an idea.

“I like to create custom candy molds and cookie cutters in my free time,” he said. “We decided to investigate having a mold or cutter that would get attendees started, but also let them add their own touches with help and direction from the artists. We found that what worked best was using a stamp or cutter and a clay that Sharon Visker found at the craft store.”

Seminar attendees ended up leaving with a one-of-a-kind design that tied in with other exclusive ornaments available only at the 2019 KOC Convention.

“I was able to take a computer file that Tom Best created for a convention lapel pin and have Rodney Gentry do a 3D print that Kris Gaughran, Anita Rogers and Sharon Visker then used to test with clay,” said Nello. “Once we had it working, Robert Hurlburt took it to our molding shop to get a bunch of duplicates made for the seminar. And there were SO many more artists involved, too. It was a real team effort!”

In in the end, almost 700 people signed up for the seminar and left with a fun, exclusive piece they created themselves!

“I turned out to be a lot of fun,” said Nello. “The best part was just talking and interacting with the people who came. And who knows…maybe we’ll do it again at the next convention!”

– By Hallmark Senior Editor,
Lindsay Evans

Reprint of: “Nello Williams on the KOC Convention Sculpting Seminar,” Keepsake Community

Experience the Magic: The Art of Sculpting Workshop

May 6th, 2020|1 Comment

Artist Journal: Matt Johnson (Super Bowl LIV Ornament)

Monday, February 17, 2020


Matt Johnson

All of Kansas City shouted for joy on February 2nd this year as the Kansas City Chiefs won the title of Super Bowl LIV Champions. For fellow Kansas Citian and Keepsake Artist Matt Johnson, that day was made extra special by being the artist who got to design the Keepsake Ornament celebrating the win! “I am a Chiefs fan and Hallmark is such a huge part of Kansas City and the Chiefs Kingdom,” he said. “It’s just incredible to think we have been waiting 50 years for another Super Bowl! All of the history and traditions passed down from the generations really make this special. Between the Royals winning the World Series after a 30-year drought and the Chiefs winning the Super Bowl after 50—my kids couldn’t have picked a better time to live in Kansas City for sports. It’s amazing to be designing a Christmas ornament for the Super Bowl Champion team to begin with, but to have it be your home team winning makes it all the more incredible!”

Designing a championship ornament took months of work and preparation, and even meant designing for multiple teams. “I began working on a variety of concepts for the graphics and then landed on a final solution that was submitted to the NFL way back in March of last year,” said Matt. “I used a 3D sculpted football that Keepsake Artist Orville Wilson had created for personalized Keepsake Ornaments and then designed the printed piece that could attach to it. I wanted the typography to be center aligned with the football and ‘Champions’ to be a strong read. I chose to use the team’s color as the background to create contrast and help the graphics really pop off of the ball. I also wanted the winning team and the Super Bowl LIV logos to be prominently featured. After all of that work, we then waited anxiously until the playoffs to submit each remaining team to the NFL for approval.”

But even though multiple designs had been submitted, Matt was hoping his home team would bring home the trophy. “I was always refining the design and looking at it through the lens of the Chiefs being the team that would win and that would be the official ornament,” he said.

So did he have a good luck charm to ensure a Chiefs win? “Catrick Mahomes is our lucky cat,” Matt said. “The statue was originally decoupaged in a burnt orange patchwork design and had been traded around at multiple white elephant gift exchanges in the Keepsake Studio. In 2018, a few people in the studio painted him gold and dressed him in a red Mahomes football jersey and headband with hair. I brought him home during the playoffs to create a Chiefs shrine and took him everywhere we watched the team play! I think he was good luck and he now sits back in my office awaiting the 2020 season!”

February 17th, 2020|0 Comments

Artist Journal: Gregor Benedetti

Friday, January 31, 2020


Gregor Benedetti

Keepsake Artist Gregor Benedetti is still fairly new to the Keepsake Studio, but many Hallmark fans may already be familiar with some of his other work for Hallmark—especially when it comes to licensed properties. In fact, his latest gift line just released! “My ‘Mickey and Minnie in Love’ collection is currently in Hallmark stores and online for Valentine’s Day,” he said.

So how has his former work at Hallmark helped Gregor as he’s started working in the Keepsake Studio? “Developing concepts for licenses such as Disney and Peanuts is similar to the previous work I’ve done on Hallmark’s licensed gifts,” he said. “There are certain guidelines an artist must adhere to when utilizing any licensed character in a design on any given format, from ornaments to salt and pepper shakers.”

Now that he’s fully dedicated to the work in the Keepsake Studio, Gregor has learned that innovation and collaboration are key. “The Keepsake Studio is different from some of the other work I’ve done at Hallmark because it allows for more innovative thinking within my design process,” he said. “Developing all the sound and movement that emanates from this small little ornament can be quite an undertaking, but also an exciting and rewarding experience. I enjoy collaborating with the Engineers and Editors through the development process. Fans should know it takes a village to get an ornament design on track and ready to go out into the world!”

One of the first steps in getting a new ornament out into the world is coming up with the idea. For Gregor, sketching is a good place to start. “Typically, I sketch up new concepts and ideas very loose and fast at first with pencil and paper,” he said. “I sometimes start by drawing a series of boxes on pages in my sketch book. The boxes represent dimensions I’m shooting for. Then I get wild and draw anything I want within those boxes.”

From there, Gregor starts to think about what those sketches might look like as a 3D object, like an ornament. “As the concepts become more and more fleshed out, I start to see them in 3D, which is fun,” he said. “Afterward, I scan everything into the computer and continue to work on the ones I like most digitally.”

Gregor may be new to ornament creation, but his love for art began at a young age in his hometown of New York City, and it’s still the place where he goes to be renewed creatively. “When I return back home and hit the museums like the MET and The Museum of Natural History, I tend to be creatively renewed,” he said. “I love sketching there, whether it be medieval armor, Greek statues and anything prehistoric. As a child, I would be in awe staring for long moments at those Charles Knight murals all over the Museum of Natural history, only to try and emulate them in my sketchbook many years later as an adult.”

So how is he enjoying his time here in Kansas City? “I am really excited starting this new creative chapter in my life in the Keepsake Studio,” he said. “Anyone who knows me is aware that I always tend to love a good adventure! What I am really enjoying about being an official member of the studio is by far the fans. It’s helping me grow as an artist. Being able to connect, especially in person with your audience, is a rare and special opportunity. We are so fortunate to have it.”

January 31st, 2020|0 Comments