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.


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.

matt-kesler-woodworking-trophy-head-process(details for the trophy mount featured above)

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.


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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