Thursday, June 27, 2019

Q & A with Shari from Catholic Paper Goods {Guest Post}

In a world that craves the true, the good, and the beautiful, is a joy to host the fourth Why Make Beautiful Things series here at Look to Him and Be Radiant. You can read the original post with my thoughts on beauty here and read all the guest posts in the previous series here. Today I have the honor of sharing the work and reflections of Shari of Catholic Paper Goods, designer of unique Catholic cards, stickers, and printables (and an amazing growing collection of Saint art!). I think you'll enjoy reading her wisdom about the WHY behind her creativity. We'll be featuring guest posts all week, and a huge giveaway of beautiful things on Friday, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. We'd love to hear from you here or on Instagram why YOU make beautiful things- Chime in on today's post!!

Can you tell us a little about how Catholic Paper Goods got started? You have both a secular and a faith based business. What inspired you to incorporate what you believe into what you create?
I am a graphic designer, illustrator and photographer with 26 years of experience in the industry. Since 2000, I have run my own freelance design studio, Em-press Design ( I offer logos/branding/corporate identity, corporate marketing materials, brochures, annual reports, catalogs, sell sheets, t-shirt and specialty item design, trade show graphics, custom wedding invitations and baby announcements as well as portrait and product photography. While I love that line of work and the variety of clients I am honored to help, about 4 years ago, I started to feel like something was missing. When I was little, my dream was to be an artist at Hallmark so I could illustrate and hand-letter greeting cards. In college, I majored in fine arts and received my BFA in painting and drawing and went on to graduate with an MA in graphic design/illustration. I’ve always been drawn to the crisp lines of more graphic illustration, especially combined with elegant, bold typography and/or hand-lettering.

In 2015, I began attending the Walking With Purpose women’s Bible study at our parish and loved it. I am a cradle Catholic revert, the 1970s catechesis of my youth left me… shall we say, lacking!?! It wasn’t until I was almost 40 that I finally clued into how incredibly rich and beautiful this faith of ours truly is! It sounds silly to say that, but I honestly didn’t have even a basic understanding of it or appreciate it until a health crisis led me home. During WWP, I kept feeling a strong nudge to use my design skills for something Catholic, but I had no idea what that looked like. I asked the ladies at my table every week during our prayer time for clarity and kept asking God to please be extremely specific because I just wasn’t getting it! Two years later, I was blessed with an amazingly detailed dream with black and white hand-lettered Catholic greeting cards spread all over my coffee table. I jumped up and sketched them all out so as not to forget. I immediately started to produce all the ideas I was gifted in every free moment I could find for 6 straight months. I’m still in awe of that dream and its impact on my life.

At the end of 2017, I launched Catholic Paper Goods as an Etsy shop with digital downloadable cards, art prints, coloring pages, custom invitations for sacraments and vinyl stickers. I create everything when I can make time around my corporate design work and motherhood. This year, our family is planning a big move from the city to the country where we hope to find acreage to build a home, grow our own food and have chickens again (we had city chickens for a few years until a raccoon massacre). Oh, how I miss fresh eggs! I will also be a first time homeschooling mom to my 9-year-old son, Luke, this fall. He is a force to be reckoned with! He inspires me, helps me and loves it when new sticker designs arrive so he can plaster them all over his bike. He is so artistically gifted, it won’t be long until he contributes his own designs for the shop. Since I began to incorporate my faith into my work, I’ve never been more at peace or excited to create. The ideas never cease and I can hardly wait to keep producing them. I pray that I can continue to build and grow this new chapter and be fully open to the guidance of the Spirit. I am constantly pushed to keep creating and experimenting with new styles and this year, I’m working on more offerings for kids. I just launched the first of many saint and Marian coloring pages in time for summer break and more will be coming.

I'm so grateful for repeat customers and custom orders. The feedback I've received has been overwhelming and I'm so happy to be able to create custom designs for people, especially ordination invitations. My mission is to offer beautifully designed Catholic paper products that are hard to find or needed at the last minute and can be downloaded instantly. I have a sweet customer who recently messaged me about a last minute personalized baptism gift she needed for the the next morning and I was so happy to be able to help her!

How do you think the Church today could better use beauty to convey the truth within Her that is unchanging, while also meeting the modern culture?
I am so inspired by Bishop Robert Barron and his Word on Fire ministry. They superbly use technology and social media integrated with simple, beautiful art and design to convey the truth and that is exactly what I pray to be able to do. I am so grateful that programs like his exist, they are making our job as parents so much easier and richer. We love to watch his DVDs and listen to the podcasts of Fr. John Riccardo and many, many others. We also enjoy Catholic radio and our son is a huge fan of Catholic Answers. All of these offerings are so wonderful for a young person to better comprehend our faith and to form a personal relationship with Christ. My son knows far more than I ever did about Catholicism even in my forties! I recently turned 50 and am super sentimental (read: peri-menopausal!!). I got married at 39 and became a mom at almost 41. I’m so grateful to God for my amazing husband, his endless patience with me and especially waiting to receive the vocation of marriage and parenthood later in life. I wasn’t at all prepared for this in my twenties—God’s plan is always better than mine!

I hope that by expanding my line of digital downloadable artwork, I can offer educators, homeschoolers, young mothers and their kids access to beautiful Catholic art that will enrich their day-to-day lives. I’m such a poor planner, my goal is that moms like me who woke up and either forgot or ran out of time to prepare something for a given feast day can quickly go download a coloring page or art print, etc. and be ready for the day. Using the incredible tools of technology we have in a positive way to inspire our youth and encourage them to live out their faith (and hopefully also be inspired to create beautiful sacred art!) can only help us to grow the domestic church. I pray to design artwork and stickers that young people are proud to display in order to encourage them not to abandon ship as I did at their age, no matter what's happening within our Church, in our country or in the world.

What Saints inspire you most?
I have so many favorites, it’s hard to narrow them down, but St. Dymphna and Pope St. John Paul II are very special. St. Dymphna was of great comfort to me when I went through a medical nightmare as a result of a horrible reaction to a prescription medication many years ago. I experienced mild brain damage that caused severe depression and anxiety and I prayed to her fiercely during the full year it took me to recover from it. I recently completed an illustration of her for her feast day in gratitude and it's one of my favorites so far.

Pope St. John Paul II is special because he was the first Pope I witnessed being elected. I was 9 years old and attending Catholic school at the time, so we had a front row seat to the process and I was fascinated. His smile and gentle demeanor were such a comfort to me as a child and young adult. Even during my time away from the Church, he held a special place in my heart and his pontificate shaped me profoundly.

What projects for CPG are you dreaming about?
I’m designing an ongoing series of downloadable Saint trading cards that I hope will be helpful for educators and homeschool moms. I also want to expand custom invitation offerings to include personalized wedding invitation templates and I’d love to eventually offer t-shirts and more physical products. Most of my items are instant downloads, but I can ship actual prints upon request. I'd like to hear from your readers about specific products they would like to have, I know there are so many ideas out there and I’d like to bring them to life! For example, a customer contacted me asking for a small card to accompany a Mass card for the deceased that explains why Catholics pray for the dead/have Masses said. I was happy to be able to offer her a few versions that are now in the shop. I’m putting the finishing touches on custom portraits of priests either for their ordination or jubilee, they are a more modern style like the saint series and I hope they will make a fun, unique gift. I realize many of my ideas aren’t original and there are many other Catholic artists offering similar products, but I love that we are all so different and offer our own unique styles in how we convey our faith artistically.

I'm honored to get to share Shari's words of wisdom with you.  Please go visit her shop and social media, and join the conversation here in the comments or on today's Instagram post. And don't forget to come back every day this week for more creative wisdom from a set of beautiful women makers!
Find Shari:

And on Friday I'll be hosting the Beautiful Things Giveaway, an amazing collection of lovely items to bring the beauty of the Creator into your daily life.  Shari is giving away this awesome stack of Catholic cards, prints, and stickers! You'll be able to enter to win here on the blog and on Instagram, so check back Friday, 6/28/2019, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart!


  1. Thank you for sharing Shari's beautiful art. I am getting a new water bottle and have been on the search for an amazing Catholic sticker to personalize it. They are all so beautiful I can't choose!

    1. I know! Her stickers are seriously amazing!

  2. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for identifying this as a guest post in the subject!! I usually unsubscribe from blogs when I click over and the 'tone' just doesn't 'sound' like the writer of a blog I have subscribed to. I feel duped. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE that you have found someone you feel I would benefit from hearing from as a guest on your blog, but I want to know it's a guest up front from YOU and not because something feels 'off' in the tone and I have to discover on my own that it's not you. I hope that makes sense! Keep with guests, but let me know up front that it's not your post, but a guest that you 'believe in' who is sharing on your blog. Love that idea and as long as it is ID'd up front, I might even search out your guest poster's blog! If it isn't....I won't.

    1. Hi Juliette, I'm glad that resonated with you. I've been blogging for almost nine years and don't take the value of my readers' time lightly. Every post from this series which has stretched over four years is labeled as a guest post and the guest is first introduced by me at the beginning of the post. I hope that you do click over to the various blogs and shops- I don't invite someone to post unless I really believe in what they are creating!

  3. Is this where we can sign up for the giveaway. 10x??

    1. The giveaway is in the next post, but this can count as your comment :)