Title: Hallmark Artist
Date started at Hallmark: 1987
Date started at Keepsakes: 1987
Hometown: Fair Lawn, New Jersey
Robert Chad's drawing style took a turn when three-dimensional art captured his attention. He began sketching with the goal of making his images look like they were coming right off the page. He then tried three-dimensional pieces but never liked how they turned out.Not one to give up on a challenge, Chad kept trying until he succeeded. Today, he makes rough sketches of Keepsake Ornaments that jump off the page and onto people's Christmas trees. Chad began his career at Hallmark with the start of the Mary's Angels Keepsakes Ornament series. In 1987, Chad was a freelancer. When the Keepsake Studio asked him to bring Mary Hamilton's designs into a new medium, he was willing to give it a try. It was trial by fire—if Hallmark liked his work, there would be a job waiting for him. Chad became inspired by Mary Hamilton's angels and her ability to blend colors with interweaving accents and tones. It's been a beautiful partnership ever since. At signing events, ornament enthusiasts often share with Chad what makes Mary's Angels such a meaningful part of their Christmas celebration. "Collectors tell me about the personal connection they have with the series. The angel often symbolizes a family member, sometimes a child, that has passed away. The robe's color reminds them of something they loved about that special person," Chad says. "Memories become all the more vivid during the holidays."
29th in the Mary’s Angels series
Since working on his very first Mary’s Angels ornament 30 years ago, Robert has designed every single one in the series. Through the years, he’s developed plenty of experience adding subtle variations. And since it’s one of the most popular series in the Keepsake Ornaments line, he wants to make doubly sure the fans are getting something special every time.
“I’ve got sketchbooks upon sketchbooks of different situations, and every year there are three or four finalists that our team picks from,” Robert says.
Each angel is named for a different flower (Zinnia this year) and the color of the clothing reflects that flower. He created this year’s ornament as somewhat of an homage to vintage china dolls (the angel is holding its own doll).
Robert felt a little nostalgic when he saw this year’s Mystery Ornament, a golden-winged version of the very first Mary’s Angels ornament he designed 30 years ago. Back then, Robert freelanced for Hallmark and hoped to get a wing in the door, so to speak.
“It was my trial by fire,” Robert says. “At the time, I was barely a sculptor. It took me 10 weeks to make this.”
Until that point, Robert had worked on stuffed animals and Hallmark’s Little Gallery figurines, which is how he first heard about a job opening in the Keepsake Studio, known back then as Trim a Home.
“All that started to change around the same time that I started,” Robert recalls, adding that the Keepsake Ornament Club is also about to turn 30.
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