Title: Master Artist
Date started at Hallmark: 1979
Date started at Keepsakes: 1983
Hometown: Long Beach, California
Most of us doodled in our notebooks during high school, but Ken Crow's drawings were a real learning experience. In his 11th grade history class, he discovered that his pictures were worth a thousand words. History teacher, Mr. Ciriello, began letting Ken use creative illustration instead of taking class notes.During a civil war lesson, Ken drew battle scenes. When Ciriello explained how an economy works, Ken sketched his teacher running a treadmill turning the cogs of an economic engine. Ken calls Mr. Ciriello's encouragement the "green light" for his ability to express his artistic sensibility. Ken always understood the power of communicating ideas through art, and he became an editorial cartoonist for a newspaper. Now he conveys a sense of history and emotion in the expressive and complex work he does with Keepsake Ornaments. In 2005, Ken created the magical Keepsake Ornament City Sidewalks. Christmas comes to life in this bustling city scene. As the shoppers move about the snow-covered sidewalks, a trolley and cab pass by on the street. The lights in the buildings and on the town's Christmas tree glow softly. Each time you press the bells on the front of the base, you'll hear the music for a verse and then the chorus of the popular Christmas song "Silver Bells" (they alternate each time you press the bells). You'll also hear various city noises and even Santa's jolly voice in the background. But how did Ken go from drawing to becoming an expert in mechanical Christmas ornaments? As a child, he tore apart every toy he ever had to see how it worked. He even made other toys out of the spare parts. For Ken, Keepsake Ornaments will forever keep him connected with that inquisitive kid inside.
When asked what was the most important thing he wanted to bring to the design of this magic ornament, Ken’s answer was, “Storytelling, storytelling, storytelling!” Ken hoped that the story he conveyed through the artistry would bring people back to a wonderful moment that made them smile. “Because I can’t be there in person to do that,” he said, “I see my work as translating that happy moment to you through the ornament.”
The little houses and buildings featured elves loading toys onto Santa’s train. And to really make this ornament about Christmas day—because Santa and his elves build toys all year—Ken placed Santa with his bag of toys to be delivered in a miniature, reindeer-powered sleigh at the top of the ornament.
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