SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — If you have seen an artistic Facebook cover photo with a saint and a powerful quote, there's a good chance it came from Cassie Pease.
The 22-year-old South Dakota native's designs have been floating around social media and phone backgrounds for more than a year now.
While Pease has always been interested in design, she did not realize her saint art would be so popular. The first composition she made was of St. John Paul II, and she shared it on Facebook for her friends to enjoy.
“I started putting these designs on Facebook, just to kind of share with my friends, so they could know what I was up to,” Pease said. “About a week later, I checked it, and it had over 300 shares … and I was just astonished.”
Growing up, Pease said she enjoyed creating designs with characters from movies and TV shows. While attending college for graphic design in Sioux Falls, her art began reflecting her growing faith.
“I started falling more in love with Jesus and the Catholic Church, so for different projects, I would do things for the Newman Center or youth-ministry office in our diocese, and I really loved that. I wanted to use my talents in design for the Church in some way,” she said.
After college, Pease tried to get a job working for the Church in design, but it didn't work out. A job at a winery paid the bills, but when she got home in the evenings, she continued creating designs on her computer with her favorite saints. When they started taking off on Facebook, Pease looked into creating her own design business.
“People started asking, 'Do you do print?' or 'Do you have your designs as posters that I can hang up?' So it was through those questions that I started looking into … could I actually do this as a job?” she said.
Pease started the printing side of her business after finding a good sale on posters, which she then sold online. She now has her own design business, Cassie Pease Designs, which includes free saint designs for Facebook and computer backgrounds, as well as print designs such as posters, postcards and wallets for sale, among other things.
St. John Paul II is Pease's favorite saint, so there are several designs with different quotes from the late pope.
“He’s also pretty easy to find pictures of,” Pease said.
Other favorites of Pease include St. Jose Maria Escriva and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassatti. “He’s such a vibrant young guy; he’s really inspiring for young people,” Pease said of Frassatti.
Pease said she likes to take requests from people who enjoy her designs about which saints they’d like to see. Her inspiration also comes from powerful quotes from the saints.
“Every once in a while you just get those quotes that really hit home, and you want to remember them and keep going back to them,” she said.
Tied for the oldest of nine children — she has a twin sister — Pease said she thinks her home-schooled background has a lot to do with how artistic she and her siblings are.
“[My parents] were great teachers and great examples in the faith growing up, [although] neither one of my parents are very artistic,” Pease said.
“But I think being home-schooled really played a part in all my siblings’ lives,” she said. “Everyone’s kind of got their own little [creative] niche.”
Pease’s twin sister, who is now a sister with The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, loves to draw with pencils. The next sister down was really into music and taught herself piano, and she is now a religious sister with the Capuchin Sisters of Nazareth.
“It’s really cool because she can sing all the time with the sisters; their voices are all so beautiful,” Pease said. “I go visit her, and it’s like, ‘Yeah, you fit in here.’”
Another Pease sister creates her own designs and sells clothes and owl purses on the e-commerce site Etsy. “All the rest of my siblings are pretty artsy,” Pease said.
She said her designs create opportunities to share her faith with others
“A mom emailed me through the website, and she said her daughter didn’t really seem like she was that interested in her faith, but she found my designs and she showed them to her mom, and she was just really excited about them,” Pease said.
“And that was a gift, because it provided them an opportunity to talk about the saints and the Catholic Church.”
Pease said her design business will likely continue to grow organically as she learns more about design and receives more requests from people who love her art. She’s thinking about adding journals or diaries to her store soon, but the Facebook and computer background images will remain free for people to download and use.
“Because, at the end of the day, I really just want to share that message of the saints and let Jesus Christ work through them to touch people’s lives.”