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Meet Cate Roman of Cate Roman Studio

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cate Roman.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Honestly, I stumbled on art making and communication design when I segued from performing to visual arts. My first career as a dancer began at age 16 here in Los Angeles where I performed on stage and in music videos. In my early 20s I moved to London, attending drama school and continuing to perform in theatre, film, and television. I toured with the Cambridge Theatre Company, performed in a rock n roll musical in Liverpool, and played a dancer in a German/English co-produced TV series.

When I retired from performing, I spent a few years taking classes to figure out what I was going to do next. It was a really rough time for me, until I enrolled in a graphic design class at UCLA Extension. This lit a fire in me that I had not felt since I began my dance career. I studied there and received a Certificate in Communication Design, began to work and well… the rest is history.

It was only later, after working and teaching for a few years, that I returned to school to get my BA in Art at Pitzer College and later my MFA from Claremont Graduate University.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Great question. And I wonder if anyone says it’s been a smooth road. It has been quite an adventure, so far. I am so process driven that I am able to tolerate the rough patches, but certainly, at times I have wondered what the hell I was doing.

Each challenge has had its own character and personality (and still does). Most notably is the blessing and curse of having diverse interests within the world of visual art and communication. It took decades to work out the hybrid practice that I currently enjoy.

But, this had not always been met with acceptance in the industry. What I found was that if I accepted my practice for the diverse work that I do, everything else would follow. This has allowed me to work authentically and from a deeper place.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Cate Roman Studio – what should we know?
Cate Roman Studio is a hybrid practice with an underlying intention – to explore and expose how humans communicate; whether through art making, design for social impact, or teaching. I am fascinated by language. I believe this comes from growing up as the daughter of a writer. From an early age, I was exposed to the craft of communicating with language – successfully or otherwise. There was also a strong sense of social responsibility in my family and I bring this together in my communication design work.

My art practice explores language as visual structures that replace verbal communication. These objects are abstracted and ambiguous using both the presence and the absence of letterforms to articulate a visceral experience of communication. My social impact design practice takes many forms but always strives to support the needs of a community.

Currently, I am working with the National Health Foundation (with business partner, Jeanine Centuori of Urban Rock Design) to create interiors for a Recuperative Care Center for the homeless in the Pico-Union area of Los Angeles. Previously, we worked to create Walk Watts: a self-guided walking tour of the community of Watts that combines three integrated components involving sound, sight, and touch.

The tour is punctuated by stories from the past told by community members via a downloadable app. The living archive I curated for the UCLA Center for Jewish studies Mapping Jewish LA project, is a survey of the history of Jewish run grocery stores in Los Angeles from 1900-1950. I have a deep fascination with stories from the past and finding ways to preserve them.

Finally, teaching gives me a forum to mentor young designers and explore new ways to think about art and design in an ever-changing world. I am a full-time faculty at Woodbury University and have taught at Otis College of Art and Design, Cal Poly Pomona, and UCLA Extension. Not surprisingly, I teach courses in experimental typography, as well as design for social impact.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
My father was a Broadway playwright and a Hollywood screenwriter. My mother was a portrait artist. They were both examples of tenacity, passion, and purpose.

Building on this, I really got where I am today by trusting my instincts and balancing that with a strong work ethic, while putting up a good fight, and using my experience as a performer to push past my fears.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Phone: 626-755-7009
  • Email:

Image Credit:
Monica Nowens

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