Artist Spotlight : Keion Jackson, Hallmark writer

Hallmark writer Keion Jackson is known for his big laugh, quick wit, and filmmaking skills. We’re really excited to introduce you to him today, in our first ever Artist Spotlight post. 

behind the scenes with Hallmark Cards writer Keion Jackson

Name Keion Jackson
Age 28
Current Role Senior Writer, Hallmark Cards Creative Writing Studio
Education Background B.A. in Mass Media Arts, Clark Atlanta University

What’s your Hallmark story? When I was a senior in college, Hallmark held a writing workshop on my campus.  At that point, I hadn’t thought about a career in greeting card writing.  Honestly, I didn’t understand that actual people wrote the cards.  I thought the cards just happened.  Like precipitation. The workshop seemed interesting, so I checked it out.  I really got into the writing prompts they gave us and thought Hallmark might be a cool place to work.  I started as an intern in 2008.  I loved the work.  It let me put my male sensitivity to use without having to join a boy band. I am currently a writer in The Creative Writing Studio. I write greeting cards, children’s books, and copy for gift products.

What’s your creative process like here, as a writer? I pretty much write freely.  I have accepted that everything I write will not be beautiful.  I have accepted that everything I write will not be clever.  And that’s fine.  I’m sure if you found Shakespeare’s old notepad, there would be some pretty awful stuff in there, too.  It can’t all be Romeo & Juliet.  There’s a Romeo & Tammy somewhere in his parents’ basement.  Understanding that some of my stuff will suck gives me the freedom to experiment, which sometimes means failing.  But I’ve found that when we create freely, we often stumble into something wonderful within ourselves we didn’t even know existed.  And so I take chances.

Where do you go or what do you do to feed your brain/soul/spirit? I have become very protective of my peace.  I need quiet for thinking, praying, and napping.  Sometimes it means saying no to party invitations, or pretending not to feel my phone vibrate when I get a text.  But it’s necessary.  I’m at my most useful when I’m well-rested and balanced.  Which means I’ve got to chill out every now and then if I want my head and my heart to operate at maximum potential. However, I need community too. There are times when I need to be around friends and family.  They keep me grounded. They enhance my capacity to care.  It feels great to be on the receiving end of love and acceptance, but there are also great personal benefits of extending kindness to others.  That cycle is super rejuvenating.  I’m sure science would back this up.  (I am not a scientist.).

Have you spotted any recent trends that interest you? Yep! I’ve noticed that most people online express themselves in extremes.  For example, if a new movie comes out, it’s either called an “instant classic” or an “epic fail.”  This is bleeding over into real life.  Perhaps, in an effort to validate our voices in an increasingly noisy world, we feel that we’ve got to be intense to be heard.  I worry about the future of the middle ground.  What about the in between?  What about the “meh”?  Why is nobody talking about the “meh”?!  I fear that we’ll miss out on a lot of information, emotion, and meaning if we ignore the middle and only communicate in terms of “best” and “worst.”  There’s a lot of life between the extremes.

Who are your artistic heroes or influences? When I was in college, a friend randomly gave me her copy of Chris Rock’s book Rock This!  I didn’t know it at the time, but that book would change my approach to writing.  Up until that point, I didn’t understand voice.  I didn’t understand how much an artist’s personal perspective could shape their creative identity. But when I read Mr. Rock’s words, I could hear his high-pitched gravel yelling jokes at me. I realized that his key to writing such brilliant material was being himself and writing from his perspective. The book also helped me understand the power of conviction and the inherent originality of simply writing the way you talk.  I still look to his work for creative inspiration and lessons in structuring really tight concepts. While reading Rock This!, I had another epiphany: The written word could be funny.  Not just witty, or clever, but actually funny.  I laughed so hard my ribs hurt.  Then I put the book away because my health comes first.

Tell us about a favorite Hallmark product or line you’ve been a part of. I really enjoy writing for Mahogany, Hallmark’s African-American card line.  It’s cool because I get to take a deeper look at my culture and try to figure out how to help people connect.  As a writer, I’m always chasing authenticity.  But being real isn’t enough—there also has to be an element of artfulness.  And I love working to marry the two.

Photo by Ashley Gaffney, quote lettering (left to right, top to bottom) by Amber Goodvin, Lynn Giunta, and Sarah Cole.

Comments

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  1. 3.9.15 | Reply
    Diva M. wrote:

    Simply amazing! I enjoyed reading this. My soul has been warmed for the day

    • 8.19.15 | Reply
      Fay McAthur wrote:

      I am in love with this book, “Because Jesus”. As a Hallmark Store Manager, I am delighted to promote your book to my community in Clinton, MD. I pray that one day you will visit our humble town for a book signing at my Hallmark Store. Until then, I will continue to promote and sell, “Because Jesus” and wait for your entire product line to reach my store.

    • 7.5.16 | Reply

      Heard a lot of wonderful things about you.Really excited to READ and SEE more.Keep your head to the sky.

  2. 3.9.15 | Reply
    Anita fleming-Rife wrote:

    Your creative and authentic self showed through in this interview. I enjoyed the introspection that influences your writing. I am striving for that as I write my memoir. As my great uncle used to say, Keion, “Keep on keeping on.”

  3. 3.9.15 | Reply
    Nikki wrote:

    Very nice! Great work, Keion.
    -William and Tanika Roberson

  4. 3.9.15 | Reply
    Jeanette Countee wrote:

    Keion
    I love your perspective you are awesome

  5. 3.9.15 | Reply
    Knolues G. wrote:

    I, too, worry about the future of middle ground. This trend of extremes annoys me, yet I find myself following it sometimes. Good to see you still enjoying what you do.

  6. 3.9.15 | Reply
    Deidre McDonald wrote:

    So many truths. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughtfulness and joy!!! You’re a treasure.

  7. 3.10.15 | Reply

    I want to this job. Where do I sign up? 🙂 Seriously.

  8. 3.10.15 | Reply

    CORRECTION, I want to DO THIS Job 🙂

  9. 3.10.15 | Reply
    Jill Smith wrote:

    Great interview!!

  10. 3.10.15 | Reply
    Tyra wrote:

    Wow! What a wonderful blog from Hallamark!! I love seeing the profile of people behind the cards.

  11. 3.10.15 | Reply
    John Pleasant wrote:

    Great read bro! Proud of you

  12. 3.11.15 | Reply

    Great! Can’t wait to see more of these spotlights.

  13. 3.11.15 | Reply
    Chandrika Jones R. wrote:

    I am so proud of you, Keion!! Never lose your voice!! Your Greatness is shining!!!
    ~Chandrika

  14. 3.12.15 | Reply
    Sarah Jones wrote:

    Keion, excellent job!! Words can’t express the Joy that fills my heart. Praise God for the path He has set you on. Please continue to bring glory to Him. I pray GOD WILL continue to lead ,guide, protect and keep you always in His loving care.

  15. 3.12.15 | Reply
    Maria wrote:

    Congrats to you Keion this was amazing warm feeling you are blessed. Great talent the Lord gave you. We miss hanging out with you. God bless all your talent keep up the good work my man.

  16. 3.13.15 | Reply
    Helen Wong wrote:

    Mr. Jackson, my name is Helen Wong, I am hopeful to one day write for Hallmark . How do I submit some of my work? Ever since I recieved my very first Helen Steiner Rice card I have been hooked on writing whatever feelings , emotions, and happy thoughts that not only apply to me but so many others. I have been asked to write for friends and family. I have had a little work published. I also have had several rejection letters. I.E. poetry contests and such. I also have taken writing classes. It is exciting and fun. It would be an honor to at least hear from you.I have also painted my own cards with my original writings. So curious as to what you think. Thank you for sharing.Helen Wong.

  17. 3.13.15 | Reply
    ron thornton wrote:

    Love it man!! Keep up the excellent work

  18. 3.14.15 | Reply
    Jacqueline Payne (Gregory) wrote:

    I’m so very proud of you! Continued success! I also believe the written word can be funny or humorous. I got it. Thanks for the laugh I received from your statement “The written word could be so funny. Not just witty, or clever, but actually funny. I laughed so hard my ribs hurt.Then I put the book away because my health comes first.” Really funny, clever, and cute! : )

  19. 3.15.15 | Reply
    Reva N. wrote:

    SIMPLY AMAZING! You have always been a loving, kindred soulful artistic person. You deserve all of the blessings that God has bestowed upon you! I absolutely adore your work, and you too dear friend. Keep up the great work!

  20. 3.19.15 | Reply
    Terrell Smith wrote:

    I am from where you come (Port Allen) and I would like to say while reading this I believe that I have a chance of doing big things when I get older.

  21. 3.20.15 | Reply
    Jermol Thomas wrote:

    I believe that
    have a chance of doing something big

  22. 3.24.15 | Reply
    Verna Dogan wrote:

    I’m so proud of you nephew. God’s glory is all upon you, and I can’t wait to see where it takes you. Keep him 1st in all that you do and he will continue leading you in the right direction. I love you so much!

  23. 3.24.15 | Reply

    I enjoyed reading your spotlight! Great job! I love your point on trends!

  24. 3.25.15 | Reply

    Keion,
    I’m very proud of the good work you are doing. Happy to see you walk in the path God has laid before you just keep trusting in Him.
    MUCH LOVE TO YOU!!

    Your Godfather
    Mr.Mike

  25. 4.12.15 | Reply
    Keion wrote:

    Thanks, y’all! I appreciate the love.

  26. 8.15.15 | Reply
    Andrea wrote:

    ThiS book warms my soul. You say what we all know, but you say it so well. I bought the book and enjoyed it so much a rushed back to the store and bought 5 more copies for my friends.

  27. 8.17.15 | Reply
    Anita Fleming-Rife wrote:

    I have had such a hard time keeping your book. I keep buying them in twos and finding occasions to give them as gifts, so many people who I know deserve to be inspired by your words, thank you for being a blessing to my friends and me.

  28. 8.19.15 | Reply

    “Stay prayed up.” Love it. I really enjoyed this wonderful interview and wishing you continued success in your work at Hallmark, Keion. Looking forward to more artist spotlight features. 🙂

  29. 5.26.16 | Reply
    Karen Davis wrote:

    I was given *Because Jesus” as a Mother’s Day gift in 2016. I have never been so inspired by your words! You have touched my heart- opened it up and at almost 60years old in awe of how Jesus’ love is so uncomplicated! You are truly inspired- keep up the great work! Each page should be a T shirt or poster or on business cards to give encouragement for all!

  30. 5.27.16 | Reply
    Tia B wrote:

    I want to start writing greeting cards and wanted to figure out where to start, so I’m reading the bios and what do I see? A fellow Panther!! Keion, it makes me extremely proud to see a man of color writing greeting cards and of course, a fellow CAU grad! I’ll Find A Way or Make One really is not only a portion of our motto, but our mantra! Continued success and many Blessings!!!

    Sincerely,
    Tia c/o ’02

  31. 6.1.16 | Reply
    Emma Dunham wrote:

    My absolute favorite book. Laughed soooooo hard!!! ?

  32. 6.1.16 | Reply
    Emma Dunham wrote:

    Because Jesus is my absolute favorite book.

  33. 7.5.16 | Reply
    Adolph Everson wrote:

    Heard a lot of wonderful things about you.Really excited to READ and SEE more.Keep your head to the sky.

  34. 8.18.16 | Reply
    Candy Gonzales wrote:

    A friend gave me your “Because Jesus” book and I just loved it. I shared it with my sister and she to also loved it. We thought we give copies to all our friends and relatives for Christmas presents this year. It has struck a cord with so many people, perfect blend. Thanks for sharing your talents with us. God Bless You !!

  35. 9.5.16 | Reply
    emmy wrote:

    Received your book as gift and just read it. Thank you! I needed a laugh and voila! several came. I needed some encouragement. You delivered. What a great gift! I will definitely pass this blessing on.

    emmy

  36. 1.8.17 | Reply
    Bbrowne wrote:

    Great insight on feeding the brain/spirit/soul. To re-boost my spirit I like to do random acts of kindness for others. Moving a grocery cart to enable a person to park or assisting someone reach an item on a top shelf (I m almost six feet tall) keeps me grounded and emphatic of others. I have been rejected twice from greeting card companies, but will not give up. Will continue to learn/improve writing skills to comply with the format required!