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Woodworking with Hallmark illustrator Matt Kesler

Hallmark Illustrator Matt Kesler has proven himself a versatile artist time and time again. With skills in various mediums, he’s talking with us today about his long-time curiosity for woodworking.

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My first experience with carving was as a young boy at scout camp. I mostly just whittled sticks to points, which then were poked into a campfire. Since my childhood, I have only returned to carving recently, within the past three years.

I have never shied away from creating in different mediums. My creative nature is to explore and try new things. Whether I am using paintbrushes, clay or chainsaws, it is all the same to me. Carving in wood is no different.

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By chance, I was asked to participate in a totem-carving workshop at Hallmark, led by a master carver. We were given half logs of Catalpa wood to carve whatever we chose. The only stipulation was that we express something about ourselves in the totem.

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When the workshop came to a conclusion, I was pleasantly surprised with the results. It was amazing that I could draw out from the wood these characters I had grown to love so much—including ones below from one of my favorite books, Maurice Sendack’s Where the Wild Things Are. The dimension and the detail came willingly from my effort.

Since that time, I have grown to passionately love carving. And I like carving big stuff! I am now into my fourth totem…with probably some smaller pieces to come as well.

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WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE MEDIUM TO WORK WITH?

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Artist Spotlight: Lettering Designer Amber Goodvin

If you’re at all familiar with Hallmark products, then you’ve probably seen some of Amber Goodvin’s beautiful work. She’s a lettering artist, illustrator, designer, and she even has a knack for the written word. The girl can do it all! We’re proud to call her our co-worker and friend. Read on for Amber’s story!

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Name: Amber Goodvin

Age: 32

Current role: Senior Artist, Hallmark Cards Lettering Studio

Education background: BFA in Visual Communication with concentrations in Graphic Design and Illustration from the University of Kansas.

What’s your Hallmark history? I started as an intern in our lettering studio. Hand lettering is a rare and special thing, and Hallmark is one of the only companies I know of that has a whole staff of lettering artists. I don’t have any formal training, so everything I have learned about lettering has been from co-workers here. The lettering artists all sit together, mixed up with the illustrators, too, so there’s a big range of talents to be inspired by in our studio.

What’s your creative process like here? I always start with the words. There may be some specific requirements the art director has given me (put a bird on it, don’t use blue, etc). Then I draw a LOT of bad versions until I find one that works. After that, I bring my drawing in the computer, and the second half of my process begins. My best ideas always come when I’m only half-paying attention, like doodling in a meeting or on the phone.

What kind of product do you work on? Tell us about a favorite product or line you’ve been a part of. Like anyone, probably, I love to work on products that I want to buy and send. Studio Ink, gift wrap and Signature products tend to be my favorite. I love Studio Ink because of the fresh visual style and casual, short messages.

Where do you go or what do you do to feed your brain/soul/spirit? To feed my creative energy, I like to journal and draw, go to antique places and boutiques, listen to podcasts and be alone at a coffee shop. I love the workshops at Hallmark. I really get inspired by working side-by–side with others or trying a material or process that’s new to me.

What kinds of trends are you seeing in the world that inform your work? Bold and brushy surface designs, washy watercolor lettering, fresh plush and embroidery. I love the “maker movement” and returning to traditional methods of making artwork. When you’re working as quickly as we do at Hallmark, it is easy to get too much into the computer. Anytime I’m feeling stale in my work, I start trying to make something with my hands.

Who are your artistic heroes or influences? Carson Ellis, Christopher Silas Neal, Margaret Kilgallen. Creative writing really stirs me too, especially children’s books authors like Roald Dahl.

How does your personal work reflect on your work at Hallmark and vice versa? They both inspire each other. I have found that diving into something I’m interested in during my personal time, like illustration or embroidery, usually finds its way into my work at Hallmark. And vice versa.

What are your favorite things about working for Hallmark? 1) Starbucks on tap.   2)  The community of artists and all there is to learn from each other.  3) That the products we make are all about relationships.

Where do you see our company going in 3-5 years? Any product that is all about enriching lives and relationships is fair game! Greeting cards are still needed and important, but I see us having a more curated selection and multiple ways to buy the same art (for a card, for a wall print, a tea towel, or share with friends digitally). As the maker movement rises, I could also see us doing more classes/demos and interacting more with our consumers. We can help them bring out their own creativity, so they can make things for the people they love.

Here are just a few of our favorite products from Amber (clockwise from top left): floral patterned gift box, cotton tea towel, Amber Goodvin artwork collection available at Gillham Studios, “In This Home…” Art From the Heart greeting card on canvas, Studio Ink collection, Walt-o-saurus collection from Hallmark Baby, stationery pack (available at your local Hallmark Gold Crown store).

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A bright color palette inspired by spring florals

A little over a week ago, trends forecaster and color guru Scott Butterfield showed us how to make our own chic tulip centerpiece. We’ve been dreaming in shades of yellow ever since. So we brought him back to help us recreate that tulip-y cheer in our upcoming projects. Join us—reference this spring-floral color palette to get your April glow on!
A color palette inspired by spring florals

Photograph and palette by Scott Butterfield. 

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A new-mom gift idea—and green smoothie recipe—from Gimme Some Oven

When we were in the early stages of planning Think.Make.Share, we knew we had to get advice from Ali Ebright, a super-smart blogger who founded the very popular Gimme Some Oven. Lucky for us, Ali has also done some photo styling for Union Hill, our in-house photography and video production studio, so we count her as a Hallmarker. She gets us, and we love her. Ali is guest-blogging for us today to share a Mother’s Day or new-mom gift idea and smoothie recipe—both perfect for spring!

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My mom is an amazing gift-giver.

All throughout my life, she has been there with the most thoughtful gifts for every occasion—from birthdays to holidays to graduations to promotions and all sorts of “just because” random celebrations in between, she always shows up with at least “a little something.” And whether that be a batch of homemade Chex mix, those earrings that I mentioned I loved on my blog, a gift certificate for a massage on a busy month, some new kitchen towels she noticed I needed, or even just coming to town for a few days to help with house projects, it’s obvious that she really puts a lot of thought and a lot of heart into giving meaningful gifts.  And without a doubt, her gifts have a way of making people—like her lucky daughter—feel incredibly special.

Of all the thoughtful gifts she has given me over the years, though, I’d say that my all-time favorite was something she gave me after graduation from high school before heading off to college: a homemade recipe box.

This was of course way back before anyone even knew what a food blog was. (And as she would tell you, back in the days when she never would have dreamed that her non-cooking, picky-eating daughter would one day become a food blogger!) But good recipes are meant to be passed down.  And so one day, she lovingly sat down and hand-copied recipe after recipe after recipe onto plain little notecards, and then popped them in a cute little wooden box to give me for graduation.

Fourteen years later, it’s still one of my favorite things in my kitchen. Granted, the box is now chipped and splattered after years of moving with me from kitchen to kitchen. The cards are splattered and marked up with notes and tweaks after years of re-making the recipes. And countless recipes have now made their way to my blog, so that Mom’s cooking can be shared with more of the world. But while I could easily pull up the recipe for her no-bake cookies online whenever I want to make a batch, I always find myself reaching for the old recipe box, just to see her handwriting and feel that little touch of love that she poured into that gift years ago.

As a food blogger who publishes recipes online for a living, I’ll be the first to say that I believe there will always be a place in life for good recipe boxes and cookbooks in the kitchen. There’s just something about being able to hold them in your hands and have them sitting on the counter while you cook that’s the best—especially when they’re handwritten.

So as a gift for a friend who’s getting ready to become a new mother herself around Mother’s Day this year, I thought I would nix the typical baby registry and give her a handwritten recipe book with some of my favorite recipes.  I know that time is precious when you have a newborn around, and I’ve had plenty of new-mom friends over the years ask for my favorite quick and easy recipes when they’re suddenly thrown into this new rhythm of life.  And I have plenty that I’m more than happy to share!

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So just like my mom did, I jotted down some of my favorites, and then left some blank notecards for her to be able to include some of hers over the coming years as well.  One of those recipes is a new favorite of mine that’s a delicious quick and easy “treat” for breakfast, a snack, or even a healthier dinner: this Chocolate Peanut Butter Green Smoothie.

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Well, I use the word “green” loosely. There’s a generous handful of spinach hiding in there, but the peanut butter and cocoa powder give the smoothie a more classic brown hue. It’s easy to make, packed with protein, made with healthier ingredients, yet it tastes just like a peanut butter cup. I mean, can you ever go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter?!? I think not.

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To make the smoothie, simply toss all of your ingredients together in a blender, and then pulse them until combined. Feel free to add in more honey if you think the smoothie needs to be sweeter, or extra ice if it needs to be thicker. But otherwise, this smoothie should come together in just minutes and be the perfect sweet treat to begin your day.

I highly recommend adding it to your next recipe book too.  ;)

Enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Green Smoothie
Servings: 2
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 0 mins 

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen chopped banana (peeled)
  • 1 cup tightly-packed fresh spinach
  • 1 cup ice
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey (if needed)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • (optional topping: mini semisweet chocolate chips)

Method:

Pulse all ingredients together in a blender until combined.  Serve immediately, garnished with mini chocolate chips if you’d like. And, of course, everything’s better when shared so this recipe makes two.

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Find the pictured recipe book (with matching recipe cards) in your local Hallmark Gold Crown Store. And make sure to come see us on Instagram today at @Think.Make.Share, where we’ll be giving one away!

Photos by Ali Ebright. 

Ashley Goldberg leads a workshop for Hallmark Cards artists

Ashley Goldberg hosts a workshop with Hallmark artists

On Monday, we introduced you to artist Ashley Goldberg and found out what makes her tick. Today, we’re showing some behind-the-scenes secrets from the workshops she hosted with Hallmark artists, and the magic that Ashley brought out of them. Bonus: She’s also sharing some warmup tips with us in the video below.

The results included some energetic new work, a few hours of artist renewal, and some starry eyes at our very special guest.

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Clearly a good time was had by all.

HOW DO YOU GET INTO A CREATIVE GROOVE?

Photos by Jane Kortright.