________________________________________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."
Date started at Hallmark: December 1982
Date started at Keepsakes: June 2003
Hometown: Avon Lake, Ohio
By ninth grade, 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, literally, hundreds of greeting cards later, Tom joined the Keepsake Ornament 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.
ROCKIN' AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE
"I’m a frustrated musician, but my brother is a great guitarist. He was teaching lessons to adults when he was still in high school, and he tried to teach me, but I was young and stupid and now I kick myself. So this is how I have a toe in it—I get to design guitars but nobody has to suffer because I can't play them.
I want these to look real no matter how outlandish they are. It may look like a Christmas tree, but I want it to be playable—like you could pick that thing up and play it. They're all about the same size, they all play a song and they all have real strings."
WISHIN' I WAS FISHIN'
"I grew up right on Lake Erie, and everybody fished. There was a power plant in our town that brought in lake water and spit out warm water. There were kids who, instead of having paper routes, they’d just stand there and catch a bucket of fish and sell it for five dollars—a lot of money back then. And my brothers and I were Boy Scouts so every camping trip you went on you took your tackle box and your pole.
For this ornament we worked hard to make sure the fish, the pole and the gear all looked right together, and felt like something any fisherman could relate to."
"As a Boy Scout and an Eagle Scout I spent my whole childhood camping. I've always been a tent camper, but with this ornament I had some fun playing with how the other half lives, so to speak. I got to play with how I thought a camper from the '50s or '60s could look.
I also took some liberties. For example, there aren't any buses that slope that dramatically in the back, but with these I can do whatever I want, so I did."