Bob Holt is the voice of yoyo and the animator of hoops&yoyo. Mike Adair is the voice of hoops. Bob and Mike graciously shared their stories with me, including how what they do as artists and creators, how they got started, and what it's like working at Hallmark, along with suggestions on finding a job as a greeting card artist.
What does a voice-over artist and creator of Hallmark’s hoops&yoyo do?
Mike: We lend our voices to our ‘characters’ for e-cards and the hoops&yoyo homepage and our roles aren’t very ‘typical.’ We do a lot of recording "off the cuff." Also, Hallmark gives us an idea (Valentine’s day, Thanksgiving print or e-card, etc.) and then we’ll just take that idea and run with it. We really play off each other’s reactions in the recording booth.
Bob: I think of the e-cards as the actually "work" and the homepage as our "play-time." On that homepage, we can really get creative with what we do. For instance for Valentine’s Day, we decided to go completely untraditional – no lovey dovey stuff like we’ve done in the past. We did a whole bit on pirates! We just keep talking until we think of something funny to say, or at least, until we say something that makes us laugh!
How did you get started in your careers?
Mike: I’ve always liked drawing characters and making up stuff for them to do. When I realized there was such a thing as a professional artist, I never wanted to do anything else. My parents were always very supportive and there was just never a question in my mind. I started in graphic design at Hallmark, hired as an ‘artist one, ’which is a beginning illustrator position. I illustrated mostly kids’ cards and then a few years ago got involved with the e-cards.
Bob: Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be an artist (and play baseball). I never did that well in school except for art classes. That was my only chance. Both Mike and I were greeting cards artists long before we did hoops&yoyo. We’ve been working with greeting cards our entire careers so it just made sense to do the whole package with the voices and illustrations.
How did you find your current jobs? And what’s involved in what you do day to day?
Mike: I was recruited right out of college. I tailored my portfolio to fit Hallmark. I think that goes for any job that you want. You have to become a virtual student of the company.
Bob: I agree. You should learn anything and everything you can about them. Not only will it help immensely during the interview process, but it will also help you realize whether or not that company is truly right for you. I found out about a job at Hallmark through my sister’s college. I did what Mike said. I tailored my portfolio to what I believed Hallmark would like and the rest is history.
What’s it like to be the voices and creators of hoops&yoyo? Is it hard to continually come up with new ideas?
Mike: We haven’t hit any creative road blocks yet. We take circumstances from our lives and things we see and hear on a daily basis and use those circumstances for our material. I also try to put myself in the position of the person receiving the card. If it was my birthday or graduation or whatever the event may be, what type of card would I really want to get that would make me laugh? Those are the things we think about.
Bob: Recording is the most fun part of the process. We really just get to talk and do whatever we want (within certain boundaries of course). When it comes down to it, we just love to laugh and we want to spread laughter to everyone who reads hoops&yoyo e-cards!
If someone is interested in a job as a greeting card artist, what advice can you give them? How can you break into the field?
Mike: Hone your skills as an artist and know who you are as an artist. For example, don’t go after a job at a company that only does cartoon animations if your love is drawing scenery.
Bob: I would also suggest getting internships. Not only does it look great on your resume, but it’s a great way to really learn the ins and outs of an animation/illustration company. Hands-on work is sometimes more valuable than anything you’ll find in a drawing book!