Vicki Oster interviews Donna McCarty-Estep

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Donna McCarty-Estep is the driving force behind the collective arts group known as Cap City Creatives, a talented painter and photographer and has become a friend over the last couple of years through our many meetings at art shows and my attending some of CCC’s meetings. I was fortunate to feature her on my blog in August 2013 and I’m psyched to write about her once again on the CAW blog so here goes!

Originally from a small town in southern Ohio’s Highland County (New Petersburg), she has always been drawn to creating art. When she entered college, she chose to major in pre-law but quickly changed to Visual Arts before finally setting on Art Education. Donna made her way to the central portion of the state after graduating from Wilmington College in 2001. She and her best friend decided to get the heck out of small town Ohio so allowed a coin toss to direct their future. Heads was Columbus; tails would be Cincinnati. Guess we know how that turned out!

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Although she is professionally trained as an art educator with a BA in Art, she has never actually taught in a school setting. After interviewing for several positions, she got a job working for an art and educational dealer and liked it so much that she chose to follow the retail path. She is now the store manager for United Art and Education at Mill Run. As she states: I love working the other side of the teaching coin. I work with teachers and artists on a daily basis and feel that I have made my impact there, all while being able to do my own art as well.

Most of her duties in her day job are not art related. Instead she runs the store, mentors her department managers, ensures that they increase sales and provide excellent customer service, trains personnel and every once in a while gets to make demos and art to display when she works the register!

She is married to her best friend, Ryan, who she met at a pub in Dublin in 2003 while out with a friend. He was there with his brother and when his brother showed some interest in Donna’s friend, he and Donna struck up a conversation (he was shy!), they had a date over Independence Day and got engaged that Christmas!!! Not only is he her best friend, he is also her biggest supporter. They live with 2 fur babies: Vincent Van Dogh, a Yorkie-Rat Terrier mix and Vienna, a mini-Dachshund who are also frequently her studio mates….love those names, don’t you?!

When asked what inspires her art, Donna quickly replied FUN!!!
Donna categorizes her art as eclectic because she has struggled for a long time to develop a style or technique. Although she has done lots of pop art in recent years, she doesn’t consider herself to be a pop artist. Her art conveys a cartoon-like feel and reflects her 80’s upbringing…with much influence from the popular culture and TV of that decade. Although many people are under the impression that artistic expression stems from pain, hurt or anguish, Donna’s art is an extension of the things she likes, a celebration of life, self-growth and reflection. She doesn’t believe that every artist has to be ‘damaged’ to create art that speaks to an audience. She also states that the process of creating is just as important for her as the art itself. While discussing techniques she may employ in her work, she said that she uses a couple of techniques but the one she enjoys the most is something she likes to keep under wraps. Suffice it to say that what might appear to be a print actually is a painting without incorporating printmaking!


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When asked about Cap City, Donna said:
My art group, Cap City Creatives, is a dynamic group of visual artists, musicians, photographers, performers, designers, and art enthusiasts from all over the Columbus area that meet up to NETWORK, PROMOTE local artistic talent, and to PLAN collaborative art events. Our goal is to build a network of talent geared towards helping each other artistically and have fun while doing it. Check out our blog for up to date info on events and meeting days!

Whitney Works actually started the group back in 2009, as a labor of love for the arts and artists of Columbus. Meeting Whitney and becoming a member of CCC was the impetus she needed to start showing her art (aren’t we lucky!) Donna joined the group in 2010, and helped take over in 2011 when Whitney went on to begin her Master’s Degree in Arts Administration in Pennsylvania. Since then, CCC has established a larger steering committee with Derek Stewart (who will soon be taking the reins from Donna so she can focus on her art), Jenn Ross and Aina Turiaga. The committee tries to plan various activities throughout the year: street festivals and art shows, along with always finding a way to uniquely celebrate CCC’s birthday on August 9th and this year it will be working on revamping this committee as Donna steps down.

Since 2010, Donna has been busy exhibiting her art in a variety of venues including: Max the Saloon, The Village Idiot and Travonna Coffee House. 2014 was a very busy year for her with solo shows at Short North Tavern and Big Fun Columbus and displayed her art at Short North Coffee. In addition, she participated in Urban Scrawl, The Big Local Art Tent, Independents’ Day and Franklinton Fridays…whew!!!! But wait, there’s more!! She also had photography displayed at Exposure: Mobile Photography and the Columbus Museum of Art’s Instagram Ohio Photo Hunt. Busy and then some…I think she said she created over 200 pieces of art last year! During the last year, she also began sharing studio space at 400 West Rich with some awesome artists from Art Party (Tona and Randal Pearson, W. Ralph Walters and Dave Ungar) and joined the ranks of CAW.

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Her plan for 2015 is to explore her artistic style with mentoring from Tona Pearson and other artist friends. She has begun to branch out into mixed media and assemblage and wants to begin a series that merges her pop art stylings with mobile photography imagery. “What that means in the end, I am unsure. Only time will tellif it ends up going into the scrap heap.” If it does go well, she’s plans on debuting it at the CAW Remnants show in May.

In the meantime, she will continue to participate in Franklinton Fridays with the goal of getting folks out to enjoy the Franklinton Arts District’s growth. She’ll also be updating her blog in the near future with more events and art.


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If you are interested in obtaining any of her art, you can contact her for commissions by e-mail or you can head on down to the studio at Rich Street!

Contact info for readers:


Facebook: artist page listed under Donna McCarty-Estep

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