Tracy Larsen

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Keepsake Artist Tracy Larsen

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Tracy Larsen

Title: Hallmark Artist
Date started at Hallmark: 1987
Date started at Keepsakes: 1995
Hometown: North Ogden, Utah

Like most preschoolers, Tracy Larsen spent a lot of time with cartoons—but instead of just watching them, Tracy studied them! He spent his childhood hours drawing characters from The Flintstones™ and Peanuts®. He also copied newspaper comic strips, but at the mature age of eight, Tracy moved to the more sophisticated material on the editorial page. The 1968 Nixon vs. Humphrey presidential race became a favorite subject. While looking through newspapers and magazines, Tracy started noticing the differences among artists' styles—another aspect of his self-described "knack for art." He studied everything he found around his house, from European magazine illustrations to his own personal favorite of the day: Mad magazine. Tracy did his first sculpting with clay-like kneaded erasers, but through his schooling, moved on to higher-quality materials and projects. He produced his first serious sculpture, a bust of Muhammad Ali, while he was still a teenager. During junior high and high school, Tracy kept honing his skills in his art classes, his primary instructor/mentor being the noted fantasy artist, James Christensen. What a great program those schools must have had, since Tracy is one of several classmates now working as professional artists.

Flight of Fancy Keepsake Ornament

Adorned with metallic finishes of copper, gold and metal-flake green, Santa steams into town in a most magnificent flying machine!

As a kid growing up in the ’60s, Tracy was influenced by movies like The Great Race and TV shows like The Wild Wild West. He remembers them all having a little of the steampunk aesthetic before it became a thing in the ’80s. “I just really enjoyed the cars and planes,” Tracy explains, “and the way they took familiar things and reimagined them in a fantastic way.”

When Tracy had the opportunity to do a Santa in a similar style, he researched the Victorian era from which steampunk draws much of its inspiration. “I looked at turn-of-the-century technology, like old lanterns and fire trucks, and incorporated some of it into this hot air balloon-powered sleigh for Santa.”

Tracy’s first sketch was a strongly steampunk version, with Santa in a top hat and goggles. From there, Tracy moved to the computer and printed out a 3-D piece to see what needed to be bigger, smaller or more detailed. “I worked with the engineers to make sure the components required for lights and other effects would have room inside a believable design. The look and feel evolved as we tweaked and refined the art and science.”

In the end, Tracy’s version of Santa in his steam-powered sleigh is a delightful mix of tradition and imagination. Lights give the old boiler a flame, a hint of exhaust from the tailpipe and a light show in the balloon. “It was a fun piece to work on,” says Tracy, “and I think collectors will enjoy it, too.”

Flight of Fancy Keepsake Ornament

Low 'n' Sno Lowrider Keepsake Ornament

Created in a first-time collaboration between Lowrider Magazine Editor Joe Ray and Hallmark Keepsake Artist Tracy Larsen, this cool cruiser adds authentic, lowrider style to holiday celebrations.

“Having a chance to spend a day with Joe Ray and talk about what this car could look like was a fantastic opportunity for me as an artist,” says Tracy. “We knew we wanted a look that would be reminiscent of the ’50s without representing a specific make or model, and Joe’s input helped make that happen.”

Tracy worked up sketches that he and Joe collaborated on before he started sculpting. “Lowrider cars have a number of different things that you don’t necessarily find on cars. There are eyelids on the headlights, unique grills, different skirts over the wheels, plaques on the back, and lighting effects. And the wheels are always important,” Tracy explains.

These little details will resonate with lowrider enthusiasts, and those who aren’t familiar with them will enjoy the extra touches. From the slammed stance to the custom paint to the shiny, wire-spoke rims, this ornament is destined to become a classic.

Low 'n' Sno Lowrider Keepsake Ornament

Old World Santa Keepsake Ornament

Here comes Santa, dressed in his holiday finest to bring us gifts of the season! A beautiful rendition in porcelain, fur and jewels, Santa looks ready to bring the joy of Christmas to the world.

“I had done a sketch of a Santa years ago and was asked to explore what I’d do with that idea today,” Tracy relates. “Because ideas are always evolving, I found I wanted to revise it a little bit from the original.”

The more traditional process required for porcelain was a satisfying change of pace for Tracy. And it turned out to be a satisfying interpretation of the Santa tradition, too. From the bottlebrush tree to the tassels and crystals, this decked-out Santa is primed to deck the halls!

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