*You have been working as an artist for 11 years now and are best known for your ‘retro-whimsical’ collage art.. You have a BFA from the Cocoran College of Art and Design in DC. You have dabbled in many mediums and still do, what was the attraction to collage and how has your artistic voice changed or grown over the years?
I was always creating collages in my sketchbook as just for fun type of things. Then in my senior year of college -- I was creating large scale oil paintings at the time - I felt free to create what ever I wanted because I was done with my Thesis! So I started playing around with taking the collages out of the sketchbook and I really fell in love I was collaging up a storm. Then my professors saw my collages and told me those should also be in my thesis show so I added them and adjusted my paper to fit! After that I never looked back. Even though my collage style has changed over the years from a more Victorian look to a whimsical one, It’s still collage and I can’t see a time when I won’t enjoy combining paint and paper together!
Sneak Peek of Claudine's New Scrapbook Line for HSN*You are working towards more licensing of your artwork. I can see fabrics, home goods, paper goods...how about a Claudine Hellmuth for Target line? Ooo...I’d buy that! Can you speak to that, and how it’s been unfolding for you as you pursue this new professional avenue?
I have actually been licensing my work since 1998 but it was always in fits and starts. I really had a love hate relationship with the licensing industry. no sooner would it seem like things were heading in a great direction then a deal would fizzle out. I had a line of posters in 1999-2000 sold at Target stores, Linens N Things. Some horribly ugly blankets were also made from that artwork too, I even had ceramic rooster plates!
The licensing thing had always been a door I would keep knocking on and I would get a deal for some greeting cards and maybe a calendar but not much else. I don’t know what has changed in the universe but in 2011 things really started clicking. I now have contracts with 10 companies for products ranging from gift items with Demdaco, to a new scrapbooking line on HSN, embroidery kits, and even whimsical folk art and then a fabric line too. It’s very exciting! The tricky thing with licensing is you create all the artwork up fronr and then hope it sells well so you can get paid. So a lot of work up front and a delayed pay day. But I am excited to see if I build more on my licensing opportunities. it’s really a direction I want my business to grow in.
Claudine's Embroidery Line for Dimensions/EK Success
* You are always so upbeat and positive. I can’t imagine you grumpy or sad. I’m sure you have those days like we all do when it feels like a slog. How do you weather the stormy skies? At Craft. You. we’re all about making lemons into super tasty strawberry fizzy lemonade, can you share your recipe for creating joy in the face of adversity?
A lot of days I feel freaked out and scared about the direction of my business. I think that’s the nature of being self employed. I thought after 11 years I would get used to it and not worry, but I still do. You are right I am usually very happy. It takes a lot to make me mad. I do get flustered with all the hats I wear and there never seems to be enough time.
How I weather the stormy skies is usually by taking a nap. When I feel totally overwhelmed or disappointed in a lost job or deal that has fallen through or I'm just having a bad craft day-climbing into bed for an hour under the covers is the best medicine for me! Or second best is an evening in my robe with a good movie! I always feel better after that!
I think the main thing is when you are feeling scared or frustrated is to remember we are some of the rare people that get to do what we love. Even if what we love has sometimes turned into work and feels more like work than play. When you get down to it, we get to create stuff for a living and how amazing and cool is that?!
Claudine's Studio* Why photos? The combination of illustration and images is really compelling. I am fascinated with the idea of taking parts of faces and putting them together into new faces, when did you start doing that? I’m assuming this is something you do digitally, did it take a long time to figure out how to do it and have it come out looking natural? Can you talk just a bit about your creative process?
The photo altering came from a need to have copyright free photos. So it was really necessity that drove me to even try it. Sometimes I’ll combine someones eyes on another person's face and then create different hair. It is time consuming to get it to look right but the best thing is that I can create expressions, so not everyone has to be smiling for example. I do it all in Photoshop and it really can be fun and also hilarious too. Sometimes I feel like one of those crime scene line up people. Where I am picking out eyes and noses and hair.
I am actually moving away from having the people in my work quite as much. I have been enjoying drawing objects in a series. A bunch of kitchen tools, typewriter, tea pots etc. All with lots of pattern and collagey feel. The ladies still appear here and there, especially in my illustration work but it’s fun to see where this new work is headed!
Claudine's Embroidery Line!
* I know you are a big believer in creative visualization. Can you share your take on crafting success? You do what you love and love what you do for a living; can you give us a little insight into how you made that a reality?
I am a believer in the “Secret”. I do like to visualize what I would like to happen in my career and then start working towards it. When I got my first book deal 6 months before that, I decided it would be a great thing to write a book. So I visualized me having a book and my book being at Barnes and Noble. But I didn’t stop there. I worked for 6 months straight on a proposal that then I shopped around to publishers. And after I submitted it, two were interested at the same time! Hard work or visualisation? I still practice this method with each new thing I would like to try my career. Visualize then do what you can to make it happen. Not everything happens as I hope or planned and some things don’t turn out how I would like, but that’s the fun part of the journey. Seeing where it leads.
* What’s next for Claudine?
I have my new line on HSN launching on February 9th. I am super excited about this and it has been months and months of hard work in the making. I’ll be releasing a Scrapbook Kit, A rub on Kit and a Chipboard kit all with my illustrations! Here’s a link to a sneak peek video.
You can find out more about Claudine and see her retro-whimsical work on her website. She pens a wonderful blog that gives great insight into her work and her process. Claudine tweets and Facebooks too!