Robert Chad

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Keepsake Artist Robert Chad

Robert Chad signature

Robert Chad

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."

Jolly Ol' Jumper Keepsake Ornament by Robert Chad

Jolly Ol’ Jumper Ornament

Keepsake Artist Robert Chad is the creator behind many beloved series and pop culture ornaments: Mary’s Angels, Warner Bros. and Santa Claus! In fact, whether you’ve known Robert for five minutes or forever, it’s easy to see how his distinctive Santa ornaments reflect so much of his own lively spirit and personality. Some people will even comment, “Hey, that Santa Claus looks a lot like you!” Robert says, “I’ve been told that for years. I can’t help it!”

Jolly Ol’ Jumper is one of his newest interpretations of jolly ol’ St. Nick. Originally hand-sculpted in wax, the merry North Pole native gets some extra exercise with a twinkling jump rope wrapped in holiday lights. Showing off a belly full of cookies and nothing but joy (and that snow-white beard) on his face, Jolly Ol’ Jumper is simply magical.
One unique aspect about the hundreds of Santas that Robert has so thoughtfully created is that Santa Claus wasn’t a part of his family’s tradition during the holiday season. Growing up in New Jersey, Robert and his family celebrated their Jewish faith during Hanukkah. It wasn’t until he was an adult that Robert added Santa into his “artistic traditions.” He says, “I love it. Santa’s a great character.”
And Robert, may we say, you are, too.

Devil May Hare Keepsake Ornament

Devil May Hare Ornament

As a kid, Robert loved cartoons. He’d go down to his basement, turn on the black-and-white television set and feed his imagination by watching Warner Bros. One of his favorite characters was the infamous Tasmanian Devil. Robert says, “I loved Taz because he was a monster and I was a boy. I could totally identify with him!”

Robert still loves relating to Taz and feels especially lucky to create Keepsake Ornaments of the rascally mischief-maker. To get into the world and mindset of this beloved beast, Robert pops in his ear buds, cranks up his music playlist and turns wax into Warner Bros. magic. He says, “Sculpting with wax is fun and meditative. And, the wax doesn’t talk back!”

Robert’s current Taz creation is a scene in which the wildling has just bitten a chunk out of a movie lobby card. With that impish gleam in his eye and an endearing fang peeking through his fur, this Taz expresses so much of what we love about him.

Robert has also designed a Keepsake Ornament for Taz’s bride. Decked out with red heels and lipstick to match, she perfectly pairs with her ruffian hubby.

Robert hopes that these characters will let us all be kids again this Christmas.

Mary's Angel Surprise

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.

What was the studio like back then? Well, it was long before rough sculpts and final designs could be finished out digitally. And although he has done a few of the Mary’s Angels designs digitally, he still prefers the tactile quality of working with wax.

“It’s what these things were made for,” Robert says, holding up his hands. “Pushing a pen or moving a mouse is fine, but to me it just never feels quite the same.”

And speaking of tactile rewards, whoever buys this ornament won’t know if they’ll get a “golden ticket” version (gold versus silver wings) until they open up the box!

Find Keepsakes at your local Hallmark Gold Crown store.


Buy Keepsake Ornaments online.

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