You got to know Ashley G. in last month’s Artist Spotlight, and now she’s back gushing over February’s most love-able holiday. As an art director at Union Hill Studios, Ashley collaborates and creates on the daily. Today, she’s sharing a workshop with us that’s filled with love and paper hearts in the form of love letters.
Seems like you can always find someone who suspects Hallmark is making up holidays. While we’d be happy to get credit for a day all about love, Valentine’s Day was around long before we started making cards for it. But you can be sure we’d never let one of the craftiest of holidays pass us by!
Valentine’s Day is a total DIYer’s dream. It’s an occasion wrapped around the sweetest of sentiments and one that’s filled with hearts, paper crafts and, of course, chocolate. What better time to bust out that red paper and pink washi tape than now?
We invited a few Hallmark artists together to do just that. We filled the table with all sorts of fun — paint, stickers, markers, scraps of paper, scissors, and pens — and let our crafters, illustrators, and lettering artists get to work. The energy was electric and the chocolate and heart shaped donuts were a-plenty. The end results of putting all this together were sweet! As you can see, love truly is in the details.
Where are you from originally?
Bradenton (Gulf Coast), Florida
How did you first get into painting?
I’ve been painting for as long as I can remember. My mom is an artist and she always encouraged creative hobbies when I was little. I always felt a need to create and as I got older, attending art school seemed like the right way to go. School helped me hone my illustration skills and from there it was constant experimenting until I found my voice.
Does your background in photography affect your painting at all?
I think it does. I carry my camera with me most everywhere I go. I am always finding random things that inspire me. I love having my own photos to paint from, especially pictures from my travels.
How do you keep yourself inspired?
Inspiration comes from all over for me. I love looking through magazines, reading other artists’ blogs, making time to see the world and plan trips, and constantly experimenting with my craft.
What’s your work process like – do you sketch first?
Depending on the project, I sometimes sketch first. If the end result is going to have lettering or cleaner lines, then penciling my ideas first is helpful. Sometimes I feel inspired solely from a color palette I’ve seen and in that case, when I already have certain colors in mind, I go straight to paint!
You paint a lot of flowers; do you have a favorite? Do you grow any yourself?
Poppies are my favorite flowers, close after are anemones. Those are what most of my florals are based on. I’m just drawn to their floppy appearance and I like adding texture and interest in the center of them. We grow herbs for cooking. I have succulents and cacti around my house and office since they are easy to maintain. I keep fresh flowers from the grocery store or clippings from our yard around as well!
What’s your work space like?
My workspace has designated areas for each element of my work; a desk that my grandfather built for me that I use for my computers, a clean area for packaging prints and organization, and my messy table where I paint. I also have an inspiration wall where I hang magazine clippings and my favorite / current works in progress.
Who are some of your biggest inspirations from the art world and beyond?
Georgia O’ Keefe and Frida Kahlo are huge painting inspirations for me. I have always loved the mix of extreme femininity and heavy florals combined with a darker element.
If you took the day off tomorrow, how would you spend your time?
Probably a coffee date and a very long brunch with my three best friends who are also creative entrepreneurs. Then maybe complete that with a walk through the rose garden at Ringling Museum where we love to get inspired and do some sketching.
What are your 3 favorite songs on your playlist right now?
I could never narrow down to a few favorite songs. I love all music way too much. But I’ve really been into Hozier’s album lately and I’ve had it on repeat for months now.
What’s your favorite meal?
A big fresh salad with spinach or kale, strawberries, beets, goat cheese, walnuts, and balsamic.
What was your inspiration for your Hallmark Signature collection?
I first became inspired by the unexpected color palette we chose and by using some offbeat colors to compliment the traditional red and pink of Valentine’s Day. Thinking about the addition of gold foil made me really excited as well.
What is your idea of a perfect Valentine’s Day?
Spending the evening with my love, Hunter. Going to one of our favorite restaurants on the water and then splurging on ice cream. That sounds ideal to me!
It’s probably not surprising that many a couple is “created” within these Hallmark halls. After all, we’re all about relationships! Rarely do these lovebirds get to collaborate at work, but it can be pretty amazing when they do! Case in point: Justin and Tuesday Spray, whose Valentine’s Day greeting card collection is the perfect marriage (!) of their artistic stylings.
Justin and I, as a husband and wife creative duo, have together made a home, a family, a bunch of greeting cards, and the occasional dinner (but we get a lot of take-out, too).
I tend to be the more free-spirited, whimsical artist and Justin is the more refined and tailored designer. I bring home a weird lamp from a flea market and he does a great job pairing it with a tailored leather chair and ottoman. I’m typically the mess-maker and he polishes things up.
That approach carries over into our design collaborations as well. When we were asked to create a line of Valentine’s Day cards for Hallmark, it was important to us that our real, chaotic, and fun lifestyle was captured.
Valentine’s Days used to be romantic and sexy. We’d share a bottle of wine as we lingered leisurely in one of our favorite local restaurants. Now our Valentine’s Day moment takes place in the fancy dining room of our home (that only gets used for holidays) after the kids have been tucked into bed and the baby monitor is in place on the table. Fortunately, it isn’t the roses or fancy dinners that keep the spark alive for us, but rather our love and passion for all the things we make together.
Coffee or Tea?
Tuesday – Coffee. Five cups of coffee. What’s tea?
Justin – Coffee. I love coffee.
Sweet or salty?
Tuesday – Salty. Capers are my favorite. And sunflower seeds…mmm…and peanuts. I guess I really like salty stuff, which is weird because I always forget to add the salt when I’m cooking at home.
Justin – Both. I love both of them. I love candy sweet tarts and I love olives.
I’ve been at Hallmark:
Tuesday – Almost five years.
Justin – Fifteen glorious years.
If I weren’t a _____, I’d probably be…
Tuesday – If I weren’t an artist, I’d be a dog rescuer. I love dogs. And it breaks my heart more than anything to see an unwanted or unloved animal. I follow a lot of the animal rescues on social media and Justin is constantly rolling his eyes at how weepy they make me. I’d especially love to have a rescue or sanctuary for senior dogs that have been discarded in their old age. Who does something so mean? I’d also love to have a little bit of land to keep the dogs on, along with a pig and a donkey. That’s another dream that makes my husband’s eyes roll. Probably because with two tiny kids we’re making miracles happen just by getting our lawn mowed weekly.
Justin – If I weren’t a designer, I’d be an architect. It’s very similar to graphic design. I love ancient architecture, Baroque architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright, and cathedrals. I’m in awe of the time and detail put into some of those really old cathedrals.
Favorite tool or medium:
Tuesday – Black micron pens. I also love watercolor but any time I get the paints out, I make a mess. And any time I make a mess, ol’ you-know-who (winks and secretly points to hubs) gives me that furrowed brow look. Meanie.
Justin – Photoshop. I love being able to manipulate artwork and change it in different ways for designing.
Best color (in the crayon box):
Tuesday – Deep cerulean blue. I am in love with that color. Give me all the cerulean blue!
Justin – A light olive green, kind of a more acidy green.
Ideal way to feed your brain/soul/creative spirit:
Tuesday – I’ve always had a little bit of an obsession with anything French. I just took a trip to Paris and I woke up in the middle of the night wanting to draw. I felt like my brain was going to explode. So, Paris. Paris is the best way to feed my brain and soul. I also love talking through ideas with other artists. I love collaborating and talking to amazing artists because it fills me up with inspiration.
Justin – Collaborating with other people. I also always get inspired at a local Kansas City home decor shop, Nell Hill’s.
Current trend obsession:
Tuesday – Illustration trend…hmmm. I had a really unhealthy obsession with mermaids. Like, I knew I needed to quit them, but I just couldn’t. Now I think I’m gonna get pretty obsessed with peacocks.
Justin – I’m really into big, bold, and bright patterns. I’m a big fan of Andy Gilmore. He does these great kaleidoscopic images with color and geometric shapes. I also really love vintage signage style lettering.
Favorite aspect of working on this collection:
Tuesday – When we began working on this collection, it was important for the writers to get a feel for who we are as a couple so that the writing would be authentic. We’re heavy in the baby-slinging phase of our relationship. We have way too many conversations about kid potty and how to trick babies into sleeping. That being said, when you’re so busy and so tired caring for other people it’s really, really easy to forget about the initial reasons you fell for this other person. I mean, I know I adore who he is as a dad, a husband, and an all around family man, but there are so many more things I love about him and us, so it was really great to get to reflect on that.
Justin – I’ve never really worked with Tuesday’s illustration before. I loved getting the opportunity to take her illustrations and design with them in my style.
Most delightful thing about working for Hallmark:
Tuesday – This place is a creative mecca. It’s chock-full of amazing creativity from the beautiful artwork on the walls, to the libraries full of supplies and books, to the people. The people are where it’s at. I love being surrounded by creative, funny geniuses all day long. I mean, one day we had an extended and serious conversation about unicorns. UNICORNS, people!!! I get paid to talk about unicorns sometimes.
Justin – The people and the freedom I have as a designer. For the most part we’re encouraged to design in the styles that we’re most passionate about personally. I feel like my aesthetic is trusted so I get a lot of freedom to design how I want.
What is your day-to-day like as an artist at Hallmark?
Tuesday – I start in the a.m. with a big ol’ coffee from the cafe and a little eye candy surfing trendy blogs. Then I probably draw or paint something. Right about here in my day, someone might pop in and ask me to quickly scribble out some hand lettering. Then I mess around with my artwork in the computer. And in between all that stuff, I have lots of great conversations with other artists. You know, about unicorns, mermaids, the color pink…big, worldly stuff.
Justin – Coffee, first thing, coffee. Next, some headphones. Then I get to it. I’m usually processing multiple designs at one time so I like to just get focused. But I’m always up for taking a break for an office prank like turning a co-worker’s phone ringer to the highest volume when they’re not looking. I’m kind of like your annoying brother around the office.
Learn more about the Sprays and check out their full greeting card collection here. You can also catch them on Home & Family airing Friday morning at 10amEST.
We’re excited to have the design power trio of Ashley H., Lindsay T., and Tobe R. on the blog today to teach us how to style the perfect Galentine’s Day popcorn bar for your besties!
Since Valentine’s Day is all about showing affection for the people you love most, girlfriends need not be left out of the equation. This applies whether you’re single or not. After all, these ladies have probably seen you through a break-up or two! We put together the most stylish, no-fuss Galentine’s Day setup we could think of – a champagne and popcorn bar for a night in with the girls!
It really doesn’t take much to pull this party off. (You know we wouldn’t lie to our friends!)
+ Popcorn (duh)
+ Popcorn mixers. We opted for chocolate, mints, cinnamon candies, and sprinkles. Consider sweet treats that are as good on their own as they are combined with salty popcorn. (And on top of ice cream if you really want to go all out.)
+ Petite champagne bottles with custom labels (find our free template below!)
Of course we shopped our local Hallmark Gold Crown store to dress the bar. We started with brightly colored gift bags from our Maker collection and adorned them with glitter heart gift tags to serve the popcorn from. (We recommend lining the bags with butcher paper or paper towels to keep them grease-free throughout the night.)
To make the heart wall art, cut a large heart shape from a scrap piece of cardboard. Layer strips of Hallmark tissue paper and cut them piñata-style before taping them onto the heart from the bottom up. Trim the tissue to fit your heart shape. We kept it simple with pink and gold tissue, but there are tons of adorable patterns and colors to explore in our Maker collection!
You can see we added some of our blue pom pom string gift wrap to the red and pink balloons for a little pop of color.
Single serving champagne bottles can double as party favors if you snag a few extras to send home with your friends at night’s end. Download our custom labels, wrap them around the bottles, and secure with patterned washi tape. We also added playful washi tape stir sticks to the glasses which make for easy labeling if you want to keep track of who belongs to which glass.
]Hallmark designer Ashley H. is a DIYer and craft enthusiast who you may remember from her awesome Father’s Day tabletop and DIY back-to-school lunch bags. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Ashley is sharing a quick and easy displayable heart to create with your little ones.
At my daughter’s first back-to-school night, I thought I was Super Mom and signed up to create all of the crafts for all the holiday parties throughout the year in her classroom. Lesson learned. I am not Super Mom and crafting with kids during a candy-infused class party needs to be quick and easy. Now I only sign up to be the Craft Mom for one holiday party a year. By focusing on one party, I can help the kids create something they will be proud of and their parents will want to keep…for longer than a week.
The first step in making this displayable heart is to gather your supplies.
You will need…
Wooden heart (found at the craft store in the wood section)
Begin by cutting strips of tissue paper into 2” x 12” strips. Apply Mod Podge® to the front of the wooden heart with the sponge brush. Gently place the tissue paper strips on the heart. You can overlap and crisscross the strips however your heart desires.
Once the tissue paper is to your liking, apply a layer of Mod Podge® over the tissue paper. The tissue paper might be a bit bumpy, but the heart will still look great.
Trim the tissue paper around the edges of the heart. Once dry, drill a hole in the top of the heart.
Thread a piece of twine through the hole and tie a knot to make a loop (this will be used to hang the heart). Cut the string of the pom poms. Thread one side of the pom pom string through the hole and tie in a knot around the back. Add as many pom poms as you would like using the same method.
Cut strips of ribbons into 12” lengths. Slide a ribbon under a pom pom and tie it in a knot. Add as many ribbons as you like! Trim the ribbons so they’ll hang evenly.
Now your handmade creation is ready to display. This work of “heart” looks great on a door or in a window. All that’s left to do after hanging it is to step back and enjoy the view – and the compliments!