Hallmark Illustrator Ken Sheldon draws what he feels—and when it comes to his three daughters, the feeling he draws on most is love. Today, we’re talking to Ken about his Hallmark history, his varied creative inspirations, and his beautiful Hallmark Gold Crown collection that highlights the significant gestures of joy and love that define our lives.
First, your details:
Ken Sheldon, 44 years old, Senior Artist in the Visual Studios, BFA in Illustration from the Ringling College of Art and Design.
What’s your Hallmark history?
I was a creative Intern in Illustration the summer of 1995 and started full-time in 1996.
What’s your creative process like here?
Lately, I am always on a mission. In other words, I have a vision of where I am going and a deadline. And I am busy! All this helps me to edit, focus and produce work both I and my clients are happy with.
What kind of products do you work on? Do you have any favorites?
As an illustrator, I work on just about everything we do that is two-dimensional: greeting cards, gift presentation, stationery and gifts. I have also recently done some three-dimensional product. My favorites include recent work for Mahogany, Hallmark Gifts and Hallmark Books, where I have been able to do both illustration and lettering.
Where do you go or what do you do to feed your brain/soul/spirit?
Often I go outside. I go walking. I try to be as quiet as I can and just watch. I also try to spend as much time with my family and friends as I can.
What kinds of trends are you seeing in the world that inform your work?
Perhaps the biggest trend that informs my work is “the busy” we all get caught up in. I don’t know anyone who is immune. Each of us needs to eat and sleep. We also need to be emotionally healthy and connect meaningfully with each other. The busier we are, the more we notice that need. That need is the place I create artwork out of.
Who are your artistic heroes or influences?
Well, it used to be artists like Sargent and Wyeth, but lately I have realized more and more that they did their work in their time. Now is my time to do what I do. I still look to my heroes for inspiration, but I am also trying to put my finger on essential truths and answers to questions.
How does your personal work reflect on your work at Hallmark and vice versa?
My schedule outside work is even busier than inside. All the drawing, painting, lettering and other work I do happens in-between more important things. A busy, full life is a good editor—at least that’s what I tell myself!
What are your favorite things about working for Hallmark?
What I enjoy most about working at Hallmark is doing artwork I love and doing it with great people who make the process and the product even better. I owe a lot to the magic mix of being a part of this creative staff. Another favorite is making things that bring joy to people and help them celebrate and reflect on important times in their lives. Also, we have an ice rink next door to our studios here in downtown Kansas City. I love to skate.
Putting this collection together was the sum of everything that drives me. It was collaborative (with great people), it was personal, and the styling was a new direction. The process challenged me and caused me to dig deeper and go in new creative directions. I had an opportunity to explain it all in this video:
Photography and video by Hallmark’s Union Hill Studio.
Learn more details about Ken Sheldon’s featured artist collection here.