Hello! My name is Claudine Hellmuth, and I’m a full-time illustrator. I live in Washington, DC, with my husband, Paul, and our three very spoiled pets.
I graduated from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in 1997. After working in web design for a few years, I started my own business in 2001 and began illustrating and creating art full time. Since then, my work has been featured in the New York Times and has appeared on the Home Shopping Network, HGTV, the DIY Network, and the Martha Stewart Show — in addition to being sold in stores like Michaels, Target, and TJ Maxx.
I started my Etsy shop in 2007, but it wasn’t until 2011 that I listed the printables and downloadable kits I’m known for today. The idea for these kits came to me while I was working on a paper craft line for HSN. My favorite part about that project was making the packaging: boxes in the shapes of houses and trucks. This gave me the idea to transform the designs into printable kits and list them in my shop to see if people would like them. What evolved was so exciting — if someone had told me four years ago that Etsy would be my main source of income, I wouldn’t have believed them!
Most of my instant-download box ideas come from items that I already love to draw: vintage cars, whimsical houses, and retro appliances. Each design begins with a sketch and a line drawing on graph paper. Next, I scan everything into the computer; then it’s time to play with color and pattern. I do a lot of testing and revising along the way. My goal is to make boxes that fit together well and are easy for my customers to assemble. What I love most about designing paper boxes and packaging is figuring out how to make my vision a reality. The challenge of bringing together design and functionality is an exciting and totally absorbing puzzle for me.
I’ve been part of some amazing stories over the years. For example, many of my customers use my products at gender reveal parties or to announce that they’re expecting. One customer even used my Happy Houses kit as part of a fund-raiser to help bring their adoptive daughter home from Ghana. Knowing that I’m part of big moments like these means a lot to me. In the future, I’m looking forward to adding more printable kits to my shop (I have so many ideas!) and exploring licensing so I can offer pre-made boxes to bakeries and food trucks.