Crafty Cupcake Boxes — An Interview with Claudine Hellmuth

Posted by on Oct 22, 2014

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Claudine Hellmuth

I'm so happy to have a chance to catch up with one of my favorite designers, Claudine Hellmuth

Claudine is well-known for her whimsical illustrations, photo collage art commissions, as well as several craft product lines. 

Now she has ventured into package design and the wonderful world of cupcakes and treats ... and it's yummy!

Claudine Hellmuth printables oven cupcake box
What are your favorite kinds of treats to make (or buy) for gifts?

My favorite treats to buy and package up are cupcakes and cookies. I go for the cupcakes more often than cookies and other treats, because everyone loves a cupcake ... Red Velvet is my favorite! I think just about any occasion deserves a cupcake gift and celebration! A good day at work (and especially a bad day at work), birthdays, baby showers — there is no reason not to have more cupcakes in your life!

Do you consider yourself to be "totally Martha" about baking for gifts, or are you more of a shortcut queen like me?

I am definitely more of a short-cut queen like you, Lisa! But that is what's so great about having a cute box to deliver your cupcake or sweet treat in. Even if you didn't bake it yourself, you're adding an extra touch to make it special for the recipient! For example, we're moving in a few weeks to another apartment building here in DC and I plan to give cupcakes inside my little retro oven boxes to our new neighbors as a "Hello Neighbor" gift. While I won't be making the cupcakes by hand, it will have that special touch with the packaging!

Claudine Hellmuth printables house cupcake box
What inspired you to start designing custom printables?

If you had told me even two years ago that I would become a self-taught package designer, I would never have believed it! I'm always surprised at how my career has grown and evolved over the years. But having your own business means you need to be open to changing and growing as new opportunities come, and that's what I always try to do! 

When I started out in the craft industry, I was heavily into teaching collage and mixed media. I also had a papercraft product line on the Home Shopping Network and my favorite part about designing the products was creating the packaging. I designed boxes in the shapes of houses and cute little trucks. This gave me the idea to play around with converting my designs into downloadable, printable kits to sell online to see if people liked them. And they did!

Claudine Hellmuth retro car printable cupcake box
What do you love the most about package design?

Figuring out how to make my vision a reality. The challenge of of bringing together design elements and functionality is an exciting and totally absorbing puzzle. Each design begins with sketches and line drawings, then everything gets scanned into the computer and it's time to play with color and pattern (more polka dots please!). After a lot of paper folding, a little experimentation, and a few late nights, a new cupcake box is born! I'm developing a new area of my business to create custom cupcake boxes and packaging for small businesses such as cupcake shops, food trucks and bakeries. 

How do you come up with your ideas for imagery?

Most of my box ideas come from things that I already love to draw, like retro cars and ovens and cute little whimsical houses. I have been drawing retro ovens for my collages for over ten years, so it seemed natural to try and make that into a box! I never thought that my retro oven cupcake box would become my bestselling design!

How many different treat box designs do you have?

I have about 50 designs that are designed for cupcakes with tray inserts, but just about all of my designs will work well with all kinds of other wrapped treats. 

Can you share some tips for printing, assembling and embellishing your boxes? 

I have created assembly videos for all my kits so you can see how they go together and get tips before you buy. It's so important to me that all my customers have a great experience with my kits and having video instructions is so helpful! 

I like using Staples Photo Matte paper — it's a nice weight, it's affordable and it prints really nicely. I have seen people add cute embellishments to the oven, like mini buttons on the knobs or cutting out the window in the oven door and replacing it with acetate. Also adding glitter to the Christmas kits always looks adorable!

Claudine Hellmuth free printable cupcake box
What are some of the other ways people can use your printables?

Home bakers just love how the boxes make their display stand out at bake sales. I allow people to resell my printables as part of their packaging for a nominal one-time commercial license fee per kit. I had another customer who turned my Happy Houses into little banks by cutting a slit in the roof to put coins in. She used them as part of a local fundraiser to help her family raise money to bring their adoptive daughter home from Ghana. I was so touched to think that my little printables could play some small role in this family's life!

Click here to get a free printable cupcake box that you can customize with your own initial.

Be sure to visit Claudine's website to subscribe to her newsletter, shop for her products and read her blog!

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