Women of Wisdom

Catalyst art director’s farewell: 28 years behind the mouse

By Polly Plummer Mottonen

In 1992 when my years working in the adventure travel world came to a close, my Aunt Greta hired me to help CATALYST with ad sales and collections. A few months into my new job, mid-production, our art director left. How would we get to press?

I remember it like it was yesterday. In those days, at this stage of production, large, cardstock flats were everywhere. The wonderful scent from the hot waxer filled the air, Exacto knives and spools of graphic tapes were strewn across the light table. Rows of mostly empty coffee cups and take-out boxes piled up near fancy china saucers with bits of chocolate, nuts and exotic looking ginseng bottles.

Making stained glass windows was my avocation; I had design skills. I stepped in to help and, with a couple quick Quark lessons, became the new graphic designer/ art director. Twenty-eight years later I’m putting the finishing touches on our last issue.

The most important part of my job has been finding or creating our beautiful cover art. Although you have seen 400 of them, there have been many, many more. Each month, the cover is selected from a number of contenders which, because I lay them all out, are, to me, every bit the covers as the ones you’ve seen…thousands of them.

Each cover has its back story. Four years ago I asked Stan Clawson to create an image of the Oval Office the way it would look if a woman were in charge. With obviously misplaced confidence, we went to press before election day. This is probably now a collector’s item. (Note the little Bernie bird on the window sill.)

I have always felt proud to be part of Greta’s vision and humbled to be the more mechanical half of our shared brain. Decades of work in the company of Utah’s artistic, academic and progressive vanguard have led me to expect excellence. The good life one can create when surrounded by rich talent and bold living has made my life in Utah beautiful.

Thanks to CATALYST, I also found my sweet husband on a blind date arranged by our then assistant editor, Barry Scholl. Our boys, Miles and Max, “grew up CATALYST” as they call it. It has been very good.

The time has come to put down the computer and take up my stained glass tools again. As my friend and mentor Pilar Pobil told me once, “You must do your art every day!” and so I shall. My life’s joy has been working with my amazing Aunt Greta all these years. Now we can play.

This article was originally published on November 30, 2020.