Thursday, February 14, 2013

Retro-Inspired Art - Artist Claudine Hellmuth

In my travels I sometime meet some interesting people and artists. They make beautiful art and products. Sara of Julian Quilts Plus is one of them, a very talented lady who I just met in Julian, California - an historical landmark where I stopped for lunch. She makes quilts in her shop and the one below for Valentine's day is a beauty. Her prices are very reasonable too - she asked me to please design more fabrics with red on beige or ivory backgrounds because she has a hard time to find them for her quilts, so I am posting this request for all textile designers and quilt manufacturers to take this great feedback into account for their next collections :). You can contact Sara directly at if you want one of her beautiful quilts!
Quilting Artist Sara
What makes people get inspired? What do they like? My new guest this week, Claudine Hellmuth, talks about retro-inspired art and licensing.

Artist Claudine Hellmuth
TMFMA: Please introduce yourself - Hi and thanks for having me here for an interview! I'm Claudine Hellmuth and I'm an artist and illustrator. I live in Washington, D.C. with my husband Paul and our dog Maggie and our cats Mabel and Brian.

TMFMA: What's exciting about your creative work? I love the challenge of solving creative and visual problems for my clients. Each new illustration has its own challenges and it's always exciting to think of solutions that fit with my clients needs and incorporate my own artistic style.

© Claudine Hellmuth
TMFMA: Who or what has inspired you in your art? I am always inspired by the retro campy magazine ads from the 1940s and 1950s. I love how over the top they are with women showing how excited they are by their new oven or dishwasher. I have an old Sears catalog from the 1940's that is endlessly inspiring. I also am inspired by folk art, too. The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore is my favorite museum!

TMFMA: What's your favorite medium or tool/s you create with? For illustration and licensing work I create with a hybrid of computer and by hand. I prefer to use Photoshop for illustration and licensing because that way I can respond quickly to art director's requests and almost always there are some changes needed so this way I can quickly adjust color, size etc.

© Claudine Hellmuth
TMFMA: How long have you been doing art licensing? I have been licensing my art for use on products since 1998. In the early days I was more in the home decor markets and now I am licensing to the craft and gift markets as my work has evolved to a more whimsical look. Licensing is a tricky business. As soon as I feel I am making good headway in it something falls through. I often feel like with licensing it's two steps forward and one step back. If you are interested in licensing your work, artist Tara Reed has some great information on her web site to get you started. 

© Claudine Hellmuth
One thing that is good to know about licensing is that it isn't as much money as it appears to be! It looks like an artist who has her own stationery line would be raking in the $$ but when you look at the numbers, she's probably only making $0.15 per notepad sold. You've got to sell a lot of notepads to pay the rent!! Still, there are some artists that make 6 figure incomes on licensing so there is the possibility to really make a good income if you hit the right markets.

TMFMA: What brought you to exhibit for the first time and how many shows have you exhibited in? I have only shown at Surtex a couple of times and both times were with an agent or rep and were quite a few years ago. It is enormously expensive to do it on one's own but many artists go for it and have great shows! I began attending CHA in 2003 to promote the release of my first book. Since then I have attended every year but under the umbrella of a manufacturer or publisher. 

© Claudine Hellmuth
I have never had my own booth but my products have been in manufacturer's booths. This year I am having a designer table which is a table display in a special section on the booth floor. We'll see how that goes!!

TMFMA: Do you work with an agent or do you represent yourself? I work with an agent for my illustration work; her name is Jennifer Vaughn and she is fabulous. We have been together for nearly 7 years!

TMFMA: Please give us your analysis of the market based on your own experience and contacts. Illustration continues to be slow. So many companies that used to hire illustrators are now relying on stock. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of illustrators out there getting work, but the jobs are not as plentiful as they once were.

© Claudine Hellmuth
TMFMA: In your view, what was of major interest to manufacturers this year? What do you think the main trends are for 2012-2013? I think the collage mixed media art style is still very strong. Manufacturers also love quotes and text with artwork and that trend seems to be holding steady as well.

TMFMA: What advice would you give other artists that are considering the illustration or/and art licensing fields and that maybe want to exhibit in a show (like Surtex for example)? I would advise them to walk the show before exhibiting. Follow the artist Tara Reed, she has tons of information on her web site about licensing and also hosts great phone calls with experts that you can listen to.

View more of Claudine's work and follow her at:

1 comment:

Maria Brophy said...

I love Claudine's artwork! This was a great interview. And I agree with Claudine about illustration jobs - they have dried up in the past few years. There have been many changes in this biz, and we all are scrambling to find new ways to create value for customers. Excellent post, thank you!