By Brenda Young
Deep within a wooded area of the Durham Park subdivision in Liberty Hill stands a studio where ideas and artistry come to life.
In business only a few short months, Hobbit Hollow Workshop flows with the ideas of Roger Pierce and Michael Hubbard, both retired from earlier full-time careers.
The collaboration began when the two met last year at an art gallery in Georgetown that currently represents their work. One day, they started a discussion about their hobbies and mutual interests, and it was then they decided to combine their artistic talents. Their work includes greeting cards, personalized shopping bags for businesses and even restoration projects, such as a statue the duo has been commissioned to restore for an area Catholic Church.
“We’re kind of handymen who know how to do a lot of stuff. I have a commercial painting background with faux-finished murals all over Texas, and Roger has a photographic background with technician work at Eastman Kodak. He’s a sculptor, I’m a painter and we all have certain talents,” Hubbard said.
As you walk up to the studio, pieces of Formula One race cars are strewn about the property. The parts are remnants of Pierce’s restoration work, which at one time included owning his own company forming molds that provided shape and speed to the specialized cars on the track.
“This business really came about because we got bored. Michael has managed a lot of different types of companies, and I used to build Formula One race cars. So, whatever comes to mind, or whatever someone needs, we just do it,” Pierce said.
Custom-designed greeting cards have become the mainstay of their business. With Hubbard’s humorous, Christian themes and Pierce’s flair for depicting the Old West, the two said their cards have been well received at every business they have visited.
“The greeting cards are designed here and printed here,” Hubbard said. “We also have four artists who contribute to our portfolio, and one of our new projects is printing advertising for people on paper bags. Because we’ve dedicated our work to helping small business owners make a profit, and we have over 100 different selections, we’re finding small outlets that go through the selection of cards they want to represent, and we put together a compilation of those cards and set them up with a display rack so they can begin to sell them.”
Two other artists, Pierce’s wife, Kim Pierce, and Daniel Adams, owner of Daniel Adams Fine Art Gallery in Burnet, contribute to the artwork offered by Hobbit Hollow. Twenty of the cards on exhibit at Hobbit Hollow are signed, limited edition pieces created by Adams.
“He (Adams) created those for us, exclusively for Hobbit Hollow, so we can represent and sell them to entrepreneurs,” Hubbard said. “We have a master file of each artist, and from that, we can print everything in-house.”
Pierce said they never print until initial orders are placed, and often the turnaround time is less than 24 hours.
“We go in, set up the rack and provide them with signs to advertise the merchandise,” Hubbard said.
“When we return, we inventory everything and see what’s missing; that tells us what’s been sold, so we replenish those. We keep everything stocked, looking nice and prevent it from getting wrinkled or damaged. We do all the work of managing and displaying the cards for the entrepreneur where they don’t have to do anything but sell.”
The artists say personalization is the key.
“We’re doing things for them (retailers) that will create a rapport with their customers and draw them back in. All these things have value beyond the product itself, so they’re actually getting a piece of artwork, and it’s some really cool stuff,” Hubbard said.
Some of the artwork displayed on their cards and shopping bags were originally created as photographs or paintings.
Their work is available at four retail outlets including Tina’s Cottage in Liberty Hill, Tea-Licious in Burnet, Pink Poppy in Georgetown and Visions Hair Salon in Leander.
Despite their original plan to only market within Texas, they have one additional retail outlet — in Australia.
“Our other outlet is in Australia. My sister and her husband went to Australia to open a bible college on the Gold Coast, and she heard I was making cards. She said if I made her some Christian cards, she would put them in the bookstore, so I created 20 different Christian cards. When she opened the box, she sold one immediately,” Hubbard said proudly.