We help you bring your story to your people when they need it most with:
Life Portraits, a mini-mural of what matters to you, art to show the real you.
artistic and customized urns and caskets so that you get a beautiful way to sidestep conformity say goodbye to your non-standard person with art from the heart.
How we got here:
When my mother died in 2012 I painted her casket. She was a creative musical whirlwind who loved color.
Bringing art to her big public goodbye, her funeral, was a way I could acknowledge and connect to her.
A way to show everyone else how proud I was of her, how she stood up and did her thing.
That's Mum on the left with her singing group. And we didn't tell anyone that why the seagull was painted on her casket was that Mum had always said she planned on reincarnating as a seagull so she could poop on the heads of people she didn't like. But we, her family, we all knew :-)
It wasn't until years later, when my ex sent me a video of the Kiwi Coffin Club, that it occurred to me that I could do this for other people.
We kicked off in August 2019 at the Red Hat Society's international convention in Nashville.
What better way to launch a service for bright bold individuals who are set on bucking the rules than go spend a few days with the ladies of RHS?
"That's the smartest thing I've seen in this whole show!"
- Convention Attendee
(yelled out in passing)
I've been painting murals, fine art commissions, and faux finishes for about 20 years.
My favorite jobs have always been for those with a bit of a stubborn streak and a passion in their hearts.
You want what you want, and it's annoying to be bullied into conforming. Or looked at like a crazy person because you want something just a bit different thank you very much.
Hi - my name is Paula Clayton. I'm a Chicago-based artist keeping company with other artists locally & nationally to create custom artwork for people with spark and passion.
How it works:
Do you need an artistic urn right now, or do you have time to personalize?
Ready to Order
You can order right now from our collection. We have about 20 designs available right now that are ready to go on the urn of your choice (Bamboo, Aspen with mahogany stain, or Aromatic Cedar). We'll ship or deliver locally within 2 days.
Personalize: magic with Photoshop
Free Creative Session to brainstorm the best ways to give your person a true send-off… ACTUAL choices, not limited to 25 characters and a piece of clip art... you can have whatever font, color, style, quantity etc. that please you. As long as it can print out OK and fit where you want it to... you're good.
Personalize your art prints and urn with your choice of fonts, text layouts and color: to share their story and values, poems and prayers, lay claim to the wonderfulness of your non-standard person or pet.
Use images from our collection, or BYO family artwork* to strengthen the bonds of family stories and connections. (*no copyright infringement, production assistance available for an additional fee).
Complimentary Fine Art Print ... Archival giclee print ($140 value/print) so that your family has an heirloom that shares your loved one’s light and soul with friends and family for years to come.
Custom: You work directly with an experienced artist to have YOUR vision realized.
This is for you, your family, your friends. We care about getting it right.
This is the big deal: Original canvas by a local artist to create a moment of memory for you that truly represents and reflects their vibrancy and passion. This means your family will receive a gorgeous piece of art by a trained artist, prints to proudly share with friends and family, as well as the connection that this is the art on the urn itself.
Free upgrade to an Aspen or Aromatic Cedar urn, made in the US, 10 trees planted for every urn, so that you can support buying local and eco-friendly practices.
2 Complimentary Fine Art Prints ... Archival giclee prints ($140 value/print) so that your family has an heirloom that shares your loved one’s light and soul with friends and family for years to come.
First you will schedule an informational phone call or zoom meeting with Paula to discuss your project. Paula will walk you through the project and answer your questions so that you can decide whether to move forward.
If you move forward with a custom artwork, whether an urn or a life portrait, the next step will be to meet with Paula by phone or zoom to brainstorm. You may consider questions like: "If I could have anything I wanted, what would that look like?" "What colors, textures, and styles of artwork do I like?" "Is there a particular artist whose work I really like?" "What kind of feeling(s) do I want to have in the piece?" "Is there any text, a poem, prayer or family saying that I want incorporated?" "Do I have any family artwork or photos that I would like incorporated?"
Next, you will provide Paula (Or another DGB Artist you would like to work with) with any photos, artworks, or other items that inform the final artwork that you’d like to see. Items may be delivered in person, by mail or emailed.
Paula will then complete a rough sketch for you to review to see if you like the basic layout for the artwork. You will supply Paula with your thoughts. At this time you will provide Paula with the first payment, a $250 deposit. This deposit pays for the next step, the rough watercolor draft, and is not refundable.
Paula will then complete a rough watercolor draft of the artwork for you to review. If you have changes you’d like to see made, you will inform Paula at this time. Anything not quite right? Want to add something? Not sure about the color? The more precise you are in communicating your desires or concerns, the better.
The second payment is made at this time and Paula will begin the actual painting. Depending on the project, Paula will show you the painting in process one or two times. You will be able to make final “tweaks” during this phase.
Final payment is made and the order is delivered.
We thrive on repeat business and referrals, and we love the people we work with and for. So we are always keen to do our best for you and yours as what we create with you is important both now & in the future.
"I just wanted to take a moment to write you a note to again tell you how much we've appreciated the work you've done for us over the past three years. The murals you've painted in our Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo locations were both eye catching and creative. They beautifully complement the carpentry and landscaping in the gardens and create an ambience that has inspired many patron compliments ... employees frequently commented that they "liked having their 'energy' around" during these projects ... I look forward to doing business with you again in the near future."
- Ken S., Oasis Gardens Corporation
I’ve worked at home for years before the Covid-19 pandemic, and I am lucky to have several of Paula Clayton’s original painted wall-hangings to brighten my surroundings. I love their dynamic colors and textures. Somehow Paula’s work manages both to energize and relax me, and her paintings have definitely made my home a more beautiful place.
"Thank you for coming and doing such a fantastic job on our new store mural, it creates a wonderful atmosphere for our clientele."
- Gloria L., Fido's Food Fair
"We had other options presented to us by other companies. After sitting down with Paula and seeing her enthusiasm for painting and finding a solution that fit our exhibit, not to mention the quality of their previous projects, we decided that a mural from Decovis was the way to go. Paula and her painters arrived on time and worked diligently to finish the mural ahead of schedule. The quality of the work was amazing! We were very impressed with aesthetic enhancement the mural made to our exhibit.
- Michelle W., Binder Park Zoo
“All I can say is WOW, WOW, WOW, Paula was so easy to work with and nailed the vision I had. She really listened to what I wanted and the final outcome is so whimsical and colorful.”
Will you funeral be anywhere near as interesting as YOU are?
We create beautiful Life Portraits, hand painted caskets, coffins and urns to honor and love the people in your lives.
Who Are We?
My name is Paula Clayton, I am an artist, and the owner of DGB here in Chicago, Illinois.
We believe no-one else gets the last call on your story.
No-one gets to tidy you up at the end there and make sure you’re finally acceptable to their world view.
You get to shine: you’re a beacon, an inspiration to those you leave behind.
Your story hasn’t stopped, you can still inspire a glint of rebellion, and bring the spark of subversity to the hearts around you.
You are not a thing, an object to be disposed of.
You are not irrelevant or inconsequential –– your story brings smiles to our souls and wealth to our lives.
Shout out your worth, have faith in what you have to say because you are woven into the lives of many, and touch more hearts than you realize.
If it can take paint, it can take art. At DGB, we transform functional boxes into pieces of art for you and the people you love and cherish.
I have over two decades of experience collaborating with clients and other artists in creating a feeling of love, joy, and connection with art.
A bit of paint and some conversation-- we make a plan together to sort out what’s best for you.
We can customize your special wood box to your personal taste. Yes, you are part of the process.
If you’re short on time, though, we have eight artistic designs available now, limited edition, hand-painted options in stock.
Where Are We?
We're on the NW side of Chicago, and happy to deliver your casket to you at no extra charge if you are in the Chicago area. Call us for details. You'll need two lifting-persons on delivery day.
What We Do...
Our caskets, coffins, and urns are all made by wood-loving people, who care for the world we are part of.
Our aspen, aromatic cedar urns, and caskets are handcrafted in Wisconsin by local craftsmen and women. Our bamboo urns are made in China.
Both are family businesses using sustainably sourced local timber and no chemical treatments. These people luuuurv wood, and work to be as sustainable as possible for their business and their families.
At DGB, we know both our clients and staff appreciate eco-safe environments and products. All boxes (caskets, coffins, and urns) are made by people who are real people, creative wood loving types who also care for the world we are part of. They too are artists.
The paints we use are water or alcohol-based, with no or low VOCs. We work with this stuff. We don’t like the nasties either.
We do use acrylics, though - which does mean resins and plastic. Usually fairly minimal… though depending on the style and look you want, when we are in the midst of full-on, intense creativity and working single-mindedly with sparkling bling or grungy, earthy, crusty goop, that’s more. We do love the extra stuff. The shiny colors, sparkles. The grunge, faux rust, and texture.
Our eco-est option is the one that looks like wood burning. It’s actually beer and pigment, sealed with shellac (beetle juice), so no plastics involved. Also, we can customize with this method-- using earth tones and muted colors. (see the eco casket)
And, finally, there are some metal bits. Small. Untreated where possible and kept to a minimum (nails, hinges, latches). These bits will decay at about the same rate as the wood.
It’s up to you, your comfort level, and your standards. You do what sits best with you.
It takes more time to make it more you, and it's worth it. Talk to us - this is what we’re good at, bringing your vision into reality. Customize. Free 45 min creative session: book here.
We have our window-seat base (the "Stealth Casket")design casket and a variety of wooden box urns available to get started as soon as you give the word.
We chose the window-seat option as an excellent paintable option to both make use of, and hide, your casket until final use. All-up, it will take about a month to go from "Go" to your doorstep.
Design time: do you know exactly what you want? Great! Let's move on! ... or, not quite? No problem, we can help.
Painting time: 1 - 2 weeks depending on your design.
Just sitting there. You're kidding, right? Nope... it needs a good 7 days after the last clear coat to sit and the paint to cure. Have you ever put a vase down on a windowsill that was just painted yesterday? Then picked it up in a week and it's left an indent, or worse, ripped the paint off? Eek. That. That's why it gets to sit around for a week.
Shipping: allow 10 days.
Arrival! Congratulations - you've joined the Underground Arts Movement!
You're absolutely NOT limited to the window-seat design, though.
We can special order fancier caskets and coffins, no problem. Different styles like the traditional curved lid casket look very stately and impressive, but you can’t sit on them. And shipping costs change some.
You might want a coffin. We do a nice toe-pincher, sturdy and simple. Flat surfaces very paintable. You can sit on that. But it definitely looks like a coffin, no 2 ways about it.
Prices are dependent on the materials needed as well as how individualized the design is.
Life Portraits start at $1,900 for a small canvas, up to $5,000+ for larger and mixed media creations.
Our standard caskets run from $5,000 thru $8,000 and are suitable for traditional burial, natural burial, or cremation.
Our standard urns run from $520 thru $2530. Also suitable for traditional internment or natural burial.
Commissions start at $6500 for a basic window-seat casket design. Add $1500 to upgrade to a fancier build of casket or a coffin.
feel free to contact us on any issue like:
“I like the idea of a unique, individualized casket, but what does that mean?”
“I want a casket that’s painted like a landscape of Mars. Can you do that?”
“I’ve already picked out and paid for my casket. I like it, but can you paint it to be more creative and personal?”
“I’m a funeral director, and your idea is genius! How can we work together?”
Give us a yell. We can work with you and get you what you want. That’s the whole point of our business. You should go out in a style that suits you. We can throw around ideas together and use what works best for your needs.
Click here to schedule a call for a free 45 min creative talk. What would be the most amazing and true send-off for you or your person?
Dead Gorgeous Box designs and creates custom artistic urns and caskets in Chicago. We primarily sell to funeral directors.
Please contact us (form below) to find out how we can work with you.