You Belong

The Story: The Why of It

Being an artist never quits you. I have never met an artist who just “retired” from creating. Most artists express their creativity in many disciplines and I am no exception – I move from painting, to gardening, to drawing, to writing and back again. In 2019, I expanded my studio practice to include design and assembled a talented team to take the studio in a new direction. We took our inspiration from the Wiener Werkstätte and Bauhaus movements who never distinguished between art, design or craft – beauty flowed into every detail, every stitch, every paint stroke and every product. We believe great design should not be an afterthought but a starting point. Each of our products is a limited edition to keep our aesthetic fresh and original. Our small batch approach also maintains our commitment to sustainability and low waste.

Isa Catto Studio team
blue watercolor peonies arranged in a circle

Anyone who visits our studio steps over a welcome mat that says “You Belong.”  We mean it. Belonging is one of the hardest and most poignant parts of being human. We designed a showroom that welcomes our customers on our small farm nestled across from the Elk Mountain Range. We craft products that celebrate both the beauty and sanctuary of the natural world and our place in it.

Isa Catto Studio is located in Woody Creek. The studio is open by appointment and is also staffed by numerous studio dogs. Want to visit the studio? Here’s how:

a photo looking down at a barn with mountains way in the distance and a sunflower nearby
pink and red table setting with turquoise table and green background

The Process

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 transforms the original art into a product. It takes a variety of steps to reach the final composition. They 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, and as such it is only responsible to consider our impact. Our product development phase includes research on materials and processes with the goal of the least harmful outcome. 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 nonprofits to raise awareness on certain distinct conservation issues. We believe that design can elevate and educate. Learn more about our sustainability here.

Our creative process includes generating all of our photography, videos, social media, website content and marketing.

black ink paint brush and brushstroke

Our Studio Crew

Isa Catto

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.  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

  1. I hike the hills at every available opportunity to peer at things. 
  2. I carry my sketchbook everywhere.
  3. I am a ruthless backgammon player.
  4.  I think curiosity is a vital organ.
  5. I have a great many ideas and then forget them. 
  6. I hate to pack.
  7. I would own ten more dogs but want to stay married.
  8. I am crazy about Tom Petty.
  9. I am always the wrong temperature on airplanes.
  10. There are never enough flowers.
Isa Catto sitting next to Isa Catto Studio sign
paintbrushes and bowls, isa working in background
bright purple flowers

Jennifer Roberts

Studio Director

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

  1. Dogs are my favorite people.
  2. My preferred podcast is Hidden Brain and I’m fascinated by the possibilities of neuroplasticity.
  3. I use the curved needle technique for Coptic stitch bookbinding but would like to relearn the two needle method.
  4. Alain de Botton is my favorite contemporary philosopher and I think The School of Life is genius.
  5. A wide-mouth Mason jar is my vessel of choice; without it I don’t drink enough water.
  6. I strongly admire professional makers and artists. I, personally, am stuck in The Gap.
  7. I wish my plants would just tell me where in the house they would like to live and how often they want a drink.
  8. I hope to retire on a small farm of rescued animals including goats, sheep, some mini-donkeys and lots of cats and dogs.
  9. Print periodicals are a guilty pleasure.
  10. A well-constructed sandwich is my favorite food.
jennifer standing in garden leaning on a rock wall and looking out in the distance
Jennifer's dog gunner
man in a black jacket standing on the edge of a sand dune in Great Sand Dunes national park with shadows
blue sketch of a branch with seed pods reversed

Ted Maertens

Studio Manager

Ted Maertens is our resident photographer, sustainability guru, and gallerist. After graduating from university, he moved to our little valley and joined the team. For any inquiries about art, or sustainability efforts 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

  1. I am chronically task oriented.
  2. I sneeze very loudly.
  3. Whitewater is my amusement park.
  4. I have a vested interest in the well-being of white-lipped peccaries.
  5. A measuring tape is indispensable.
  6. East of Eden is my favorite book.
  7. I have no less than four pairs of Chacos.
  8. “Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.” – John Muir
  9. I am always prepared.
Ted Maertens
ted on a hike
ted white water rafting

Studio Dogs

red dog sleeping on a couch on top of a blue and green floral pillow

Luna

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 the studio dog

Rose

HUMAN RESOURCES

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 studio dog

Gunner

LOSS PREVENTION

Gunner is a plott hound mix who helps Luna out on security detail. His bark could also wake the dead and has a serious case of bedroom eyes.