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Matt Johnson

Hallmark Designer

Date started at Hallmark: March 2012
Date started at Keepsakes: 2012
Hometown: Fresno, California

Matt has designed for companies all over the United States, but his appreciation of toys has stuck with him since childhood. Toys play an especially important role in Christmas, a holiday that gives Matt the inspiration he needs when it comes to crafting tree-worthy trimmings in the Keepsake Studio. He admits "there's just so many people around here that make it feel like Christmas all the time!"

Matt graduated with an Industrial Design degree from the University of Kansas, and continues to be a student of product design as he follows his passion for ornaments, toys and games. As someone who appreciates fun, creative and offbeat entertainment for kids, the Keepsake Studio was just the place for Matt to work, but an opening wasn’t so easy to come by. After a few years of working in the Midwest and along the East Coast, Matt made the move back to Kansas City with his family—and, as luck would have it, an opening in Keepsakes was waiting for him.

The work of a Keepsakes designer is a challenge, but Matt is happy to see his designs inspire wonder for kids and kids at heart.


1st in the Family Game Night series
By Matt Johnson & Rodney Gentry.
Available beginning in October.

Talk to Keepsake Artists Matt Johnson and Rodney Gentry and it immediately becomes apparent—these guys have a blast working together. So it's only fitting that they collaborated on the first ornament in the Family Game Night series—Sorry!

According to Matt, "I think there’s been a resurgence in families getting together and playing board games. And since we didn’t have much in the way of video games around our house, I have fond memories of summer nights playing with families and friends."

When asked why they chose Sorry! as the first in series, Rodney replies, "During our brainstorming phase, we talked about a lot of different games, and Sorry! just kept rising to the top. It has stood the test of time...and nearly everybody we talked to remembers playing it as kids. So we went with it."

As they collaborated, Matt provided a series of 2D sketches of the game. The design was chosen. Then it was up to Rodney to bring it to life as a Keepsake Ornament. "My biggest challenge," Rodney says, "was to translate the level of excitement that Matt brought to his sketches into a 3D model."

The real game’s packaging and design has evolved over the years. So the two went to great lengths to keep it relevant to game-lovers both young and old. They even combined the original game pieces along with the newer board design. Adjustments were also made to make it work at such a small scale. According to Rodney, "We tried to stay as true to the game as possible but as it gets smaller, you have to make sure it’s sturdy and everything reads clearly."


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