The Five Questions: Cat Seto

Thankfully, serendipity (also known as old-fashioned good luck) has played a big role in my tenure at Stationery Trends. Take our spring issue last year. It’s the biggest of the year for us, and not only did that for 2013 mark our fifth birthday, we were also debuting a much-sweated-over redesign. I began working on the articles to fill it about this time last year — and had not the faintest clue of who to feature in our designer profile.

Then, as fate would have it, Cat Seto emailed me. She first exhibited at NSS in 2005, and I’d always adored her work — as did a rather large clientele. At that point, her greeting cards, stationery and wedding invitations had been in over 800 retail boutiques — with Anthropologie an early client — and she’d licensed designs to Target, Minted and Tiny Prints. Meanwhile, her Russian Hill studio in San Francisco (just steps away from the infamous crooked Lombard Street) evolved into a boutique, and her attempts to juggle it all with motherhood evolved into the Chronicle Books title “Mom Inc.”

Cat was emailing to share then-brand-new Ferme á Papier  line. Translating as “farm to paper” and born during an European adventure, she described the line as having a French preppy, illustrative vibe. “I felt a real urge to go back to my roots in painting and illustration. I wanted to explore natural themes in contemporary settings … urban couples having a meal together, illustrated vegetable prints and Fauvist-inspired drawings of everyday life.”

She sent me a few sneak peeks of the line — shown below — and just like that, my quandary was no more.



You can find the profile we printed archived here. The entire issue & Cat’s profile in particular are amongst my favorites, and it was amazing to see the line in person — and Cat — at NSS a few months later. I was so flattered to find out later that Cat ran an Instagram pic of me right in front of the issue! I think of each issue of the magazine and the articles within it as my “babies,” so I guess it’s really a family photo in a sense.

Cat is such a natural for this column — I am always curious to see what’s on her mind and what she’s been creating lately. She sent me this amazingly styled pic of her holiday selections — available here —  and you can be sure I wasn’t disappointed!

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Wow! Right? I love their painterly qualities, use of color and thoughtful touches of gold foil. So without further ado, here are Cat’s responses to our Five Questions.


1. SS: How did you get into this crazy business?

CS: I was on a grant to supposedly write the “great novel” but ended up with severe writer’s block. To while away my days and nights I began crafting felt finger puppets until I had hundreds of them sitting in a drawer. From there I decided to illustrate them and then turn them into cards. I debuted a small collection of patterned notecards, illustrated greeting cards and imprintables and Anthropologie became one of my first clients. From there my business began!

2. SS: Are there any design or lifestyle trends you are finding yourself particularly intrigued with these days?

CS: Ferme à Papier is about the small joys in life. This was inspired by trips to Europe where I became fascinated by the chic Parisians translating plaid. I also recently visited Shoreditch, London and spent a few days hunting down favorite shops, including a Sunday stroll down Columbia Road flower market.

3. SS: What letter, card or invitation first comes to mind as the best you’ve ever received?

CS: A fellow designing mom, Jenn White of 13Creative always sends the BEST holiday and new year cards. One year she sent everyone a box with a black iron magnifying glass and what looked like a blank piece of paper. Of course when you looked up close it was the tiniest of script with an insightful message about taking time to enjoy the small things in life.

4. What’s your favorite paper line aside from Cat Seto?

CS: I’ve always been a big fan of R Nichols handcut cards. He is 14 years strong and the scenes are still whimsical and fresh as ever!


5. SS: Is there anything you do personally to keep letter-writing, card-sending and invitation using alive?

CS: I once needed to pen a hand-written letter and what ensued was a half-hour-long search in my home for a pen and some good paper. I realized I had been working so much electronically I didn’t possess any tactile writing tools near me! Now I always try to stash a good, black ink pen along with scrap stock from my studio within my reach. It’s a reminder when I want to email that I could just as easily write something by hand.

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