Title: Hallmark Artist
Date started at Hallmark: 1982
Date started at Keepsakes: 2003
Hometown: Avon Lake, Ohio
Tom Best grew up on the shores of Lake Erie, just west of Cleveland, Ohio. The youngest of three boys, he was surrounded by creativity. His brothers and father were all accomplished musicians, but Tom says music didn't come naturally to him. It was his artistic abilities that, in grammar school, gave him the reputation as "that kid who can draw."By his freshman year in high school, he had decided to focus his studies on art. In 1982, he received a bachelor of fine arts degree from the Columbus College of Art and Design. Tom's career at Hallmark started immediately after graduation when he became an illustrator and graphic designer in the greeting card department. He also worked in Hallmark's business-related loyalty marketing department and had a short stint in the licensing studio. Some 21 years and hundreds of greeting cards later, Tom joined the Keepsake Ornaments department in 2003. He now truly enjoys developing 3-dimensional product for Keepsakes. "It's a thrill seeing your ideas and drawings come off the paper or computer screen and into your hands!" Outside of work, Tom enjoys running and keeps very busy with his daughter, Madeline; wife, Denise (also a Hallmarker); and three very active dogs.
Growing up in Ohio, Tom Best vividly remembers fishing on Lake Erie.
“Basically everybody fished in my hometown, especially kids,” Tom says. “We’d catch night crawlers for bait, or we’d find crayfish in the creek behind our house.”
He grew up in Avon, a Cleveland suburb about 18 miles west of the city on Interstate 90. Tom and his brothers, who were Eagle Scouts, spent many summers along the lake on camping and fishing trips.
“We’d always pack our Zebco spin-cast reel and a travel-size tackle box,” he says. Other times they’d just head down to the water with a stringer line and a bucket—whatever worked. The lucky kids caught walleye, but mostly they caught perch, white bass and carp.
“If you visit anywhere along the shoreline, you’ll want to have perch or walleye for dinner,” Tom says. “Just wonderful, classic, mild white fish.” Just don’t eat the carp: “They were fun to catch. It was fun to fight ’em as long as they didn’t break your line,” Tom says. “But you certainly wouldn’t want to keep one.”
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