Anita Marra RogersShop Now
Anita Marra Rogers
Title: Hallmark Artist
Date started at Hallmark: 1987
Date started at Keepsakes: 1985
Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri
Horses, dogs and unicorns—typical subjects for children’s artwork. But Anita Marra Rogers didn’t draw like a typical child. Her mother quickly recognized that early talent, and she signed Anita up for oil painting lessons. At age 19, Anita used those paintings in her portfolio when she applied for a job with Hallmark. As good as those paintings were, she was turned down.
A few years later, a Hallmark sculptor looked at those same paintings of seascapes and landscapes. He saw talent. He told Anita that she simply wasn’t doing the kinds of images Hallmark wanted. He invited her to come in and see what the Hallmark Artists were working on—whimsical animals, warm Christmas scenes, wintry landscapes. Anita tried her hand at one, sculpting a deer and a bunny looking sweetly at each other over a snow bank. As soon as her friend saw it, he told her that her Keepsake Ornament career had begun.
Hallmark wasn’t Anita’s first sculpting assignment. As a child, she made animal shapes out of cotton candy for her brother and sisters. There’s still a touch of sweetness to every Keepsake Ornament she creates.
2014 Keepsake Ornaments
24th in the Puppy Love series
Anita’s inspiration for each new Puppy Love ornament comes from the official American Kennel Club list of dogs. She looks at which dogs are becoming more popular, always choosing an especially cute breed for her sculpt—and this year is no exception! “French Bulldogs have really grown in popularity, I have started to notice them in advertising and on TV as well.”
Not everyone would find the French Bulldog’s scrunched-up nose as adorable as Anita, so she added some accessories to make this pup extra kissable: If you look closely, you can see that her hanging mistletoe prop is actually a holiday headband, fit for a puppy that’s ready for a smooch.
Birch Log Snowman
Snowmen are popular holiday icons, but it’s always fun to give a a classic character a new design. Anita wanted to bring out the alpine woodland charm of this snowman’s birchwood body, so she added a few accessories. “I put a little snow in between the logs for glue, and I gave him a scarf and earmuffs to make him look warmer. He’s got a real fabric scarf and pom pom earmuffs. I just wanted to make him look really cute.”
Nifty Fifties Keepsake Ornaments
By Anita Marra Rogers and Rodney Gentry
Although Keepsake Ornaments didn’t make their way into stores until 1973, Anita dreamt up a few nostalgic trinkets to fit in with classic 1950s décor. Anita recalls, “A lot of times in the Keepsake Ornament Studio, we try to think ‘What would Keepsake Ornaments look like in 10 or so years?’ but the Nifty Fifties ornaments had me thinking about the past, and it was a long time ago!”
Anita collaborated with a number of designers to complete the box design and overall vintage look of the piece, tapping into a number of retro styles that have been growing in popularity each year.