The Story: Keep Art in Hand
Being an artist never quits you. Most artists express their creativity in many disciplines, and the team behind Isa Catto Studio is no exception – our principal, Isa Catto, moves from painting to gardening, to drawing, to writing, and back again. In 2019, her studio practice expanded to include design, and a talented team came together in the joyful spirit of evolution. Great design tells a story and can reflect a curiosity about, and a connection to, our planet, not to mention each other. We want our designs to celebrate both the beauty and sanctuary of the natural world and our place in it. This is “the why of it”—we keep art in hand.
To keep our aesthetic unique and original, each of our designs is a limited edition. Our small batch approach also maintains our commitment to sustainability and low waste.
Anyone who visits our studio steps over a welcome mat that says: “You Belong.” We mean it. We designed a shop and working studio that welcomes our customers on our small farm nestled across from the Elk Mountain Range.
Isa Catto Studio is located in Woody Creek. The studio is open by appointment and is also staffed by numerous studio dogs. If you would like to visit the studio, you can book your appointment online.
The painter Wassily Kandinsky once quipped that everything begins with a dot, and we couldn’t agree more. Isa starts with that dot, then moves into a sketch, and then onto a painting. Then the team translates the original art into a bespoke, functional product. It takes a variety of steps to reach the final composition. These steps may include additional sketching, painting, or color exploration. Every member of our team pitches in to keep the design moving forward.
Many of our designs are inspired by the natural world, so we constantly consider our impact. Our product development phase includes research on materials and processes with the goal of achieving the least harmful environmental outcomes. But celebrating the natural world with our approach to design and production is not enough. We believe that we can always give a bit more, so we partner with several conservation nonprofits. We believe that design can elevate and educate. Learn more about our sustainability practices here.
Our Studio Crew
Founder and Creative Director
Isa gathers inspiration from a variety of sources: the cultivated landscape of her high altitude garden, the wilder landscape of her native Colorado Rockies, and the more subterranean territories of mythology, literature, and poetry. These sources are conduits to more universal terrain, where she explores the rigors of loss, belonging, authenticity and connection, all the while examining the arenas of motherhood, sanctuary, and redemption. Her Creative Rummage blog augments this creative process and can be read here.
Left Brain Bio
Isa has spent the last twenty-five years working in watercolor and mixed media, as well as teaching workshops at arts institutions around the country, including Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass, CO, and the Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. She is represented by Harvey Preston Gallery and Kristy Stubbs Gallery. She also writes a regular column for The Chronicle of Philanthropy and advocates for arts education, social justice, and conservation. You can read her column here. Catto lives outside of Aspen, Colorado, with her husband, the writer Daniel A. Shaw, two children, and various dogs, on a small farm where she stewards the award-winning Mojo Gardens.
Right Brain Notes
- I hike the hills at every available opportunity to peer at things.
- I carry my sketchbook everywhere.
- I am a ruthless backgammon player.
- I think curiosity is a vital organ.
- I have a great many ideas and then forget them.
- I hate to pack.
- I would own ten more dogs but want to stay married.
- I am crazy about Tom Petty.
- I am always the wrong temperature on airplanes.
- There are never enough flowers.
An appreciation for how space design combined with commerce and genuine hospitality can create transformative experiences drew Jennifer Roberts into retail. She is a passionate advocate for small creative businesses and deeply enjoys the diversity of her role that is in constant rotation between product development, operations, marketing, customer interaction and the frequent opening and closing of doors for the studio dogs.
Left Brain Bio
After graduating from Colorado State University with a degree in civil engineering, Jennifer worked as a water resources engineer for nearly a decade. Inspired by urban travels and a love of modern design, she opened a lifestyle boutique in Denver which challenged, educated and delighted her for over 7 years. The subsequent years were filled with some geographic and career exploration before returning home to Colorado and settling back into retail, as part of the ICS creative team. Jennifer lives near Carbondale, above a woodworking shop with her artist partner, Thomas, their embarrassing spoiled dog Gunner and too many houseplants.
Right Brain Notes
- Dogs are my favorite people.
- My preferred podcast is Hidden Brain and I’m fascinated by the possibilities of neuroplasticity.
- I use the curved needle technique for Coptic stitch bookbinding but would like to relearn the two needle method.
- Alain de Botton is my favorite contemporary philosopher and I think The School of Life is genius.
- A wide-mouth Mason jar is my vessel of choice; without it I don’t drink enough water.
- I strongly admire professional makers and artists. I, personally, am stuck in The Gap.
- I wish my plants would just tell me where in the house they would like to live and how often they want a drink.
- I hope to retire on a small farm of rescued animals including goats, sheep, some mini-donkeys and lots of cats and dogs.
- Print periodicals are a guilty pleasure.
- A well-constructed sandwich is my favorite food.
Ted Maertens is our resident gallerist and raft guide. After graduating from university, he moved to our valley for its outdoor and artistic community and joined the team. On the weekend, he is either on the river, climbing, hiking, or skiing. For any inquiries about art, please email him at [email protected].
Left Brain Bio
In May 2020, Ted graduated from Vanderbilt University, majoring in Ecology and Art. During his time in Nashville, he worked in opera and dance production, while developing his interest in sculpture. The rest of his time was devoted to vegetation and ungulate research in Brazil and in forests throughout Tennessee. This combination of studies has made him a great fit for our studio.
Right Brain Notes
- I am chronically task oriented.
- I sneeze very loudly.
- Whitewater is my amusement park.
- I have a vested interest in the well-being of white-lipped peccaries.
- A measuring tape is indispensable.
- East of Eden is my favorite book.
- I have no less than four pairs of Chacos.
- “Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.” – John Muir
- I am always prepared.
DIRECTOR OF SECURITY
Luna is a cattle dog mix who has a bark that could wake the dead, but the gentlest of dispositions. She is inspired by treats. And more treats.
Rose is a malamute mix from the Navajo Reservation who prefers the snow and cold. She does not bark but instead directs the studio team by crying or giving withering looks.
Gunner is a plott hound mix who helps Luna out on security detail. His bark could also wake the dead and he has a serious case of bedroom eyes.