Matt JohnsonShop Now
Title: Hallmark Designer
Date started at Hallmark: 2012
Date started at Keepsakes: 2012
Hometown: Fresno, California
Matt has designed for companies all over the United States, but his appreciation of toys has stuck with him since childhood. Toys play an especially important role in Christmas, a holiday that gives Matt the inspiration he needs when it comes to crafting tree-worthy trimmings in the Keepsake Studio. He admits "there's just so many people around here that make it feel like Christmas all the time!"Matt graduated with an Industrial Design degree from the University of Kansas, and continues to be a student of product design as he follows his passion for ornaments, toys and games. As someone who appreciates fun, creative and offbeat entertainment for kids, the Keepsake Studio was just the place for Matt to work, but an opening wasn’t so easy to come by. After a few years of working in the Midwest and along the East Coast, Matt made the move back to Kansas City with his family—and, as luck would have it, an opening in Keepsakes was waiting for him. The work of a Keepsakes designer is a challenge, but Matt is happy to see his designs inspire wonder for kids and kids at heart.
Hallmark Heritage Collection
Meet Matt Johnson, time traveler.
When he set out to make this nostalgic nod to a vintage Santa, Matt took a trip through the Hallmark archives. That’s where he found the Victorian-era postcard that inspired the look and feel of his latest creation.
“We have a huge collection of postcards, and what was so striking about this one in particular was that it had been printed with actual metallic ink,” Matt says. “It was already embossed and they hand-inked some of the details in gold. It just looked really beautiful, and we wanted to carry that through to the new version.”
He updated the styling and made the face more expressive, the eyes more pronounced. But as he moved from concept stage to the finished blown glass version, Matt wanted to maintain some of the character’s classic qualities—not just the tone of the piece but its sense of movement as well.
Red Poinsettia Ball
Hallmark Heritage Collection
Something else Matt enjoyed about working on the Hallmark Heritage Collection was the connection to the artists who created the images.
Case in point: One of his Keepsake Studio colleagues recently reached out to an Italian artist who had created an iconic reindeer in the 1960s. That reindeer became the inspiration for a new ornament, and she wanted to confirm the original creator’s identity. She wrote him a letter (he doesn’t have an email address) and he wrote back to say that it was, in fact, his design.
Matt, however, was not as lucky. His poinsettia ornament was also inspired by a design from the Hallmark archives, but the identity of the artist who created the design remains an intriguing mystery.
“It could have been done for wrapping paper or a card—it’s hard to say,” Matt says. “It looks like it was done on red paper with gold metallic ink. I just thought it would look beautiful on an ornament.”
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