Technique Talk: Pop artist Donna Estep

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Technique Talk is a weekly online Alive feature that spotlights the process of a Columbus artist. Know someone we should talk to? Send tips to

So Marilyn Monroe and Frankenstein walk into a bar… no way they wouldn't fall in love, right?! Painter Donna Estep's pop art pieces take cultural icons and give them new story lines. Super fun. She's currently got pieces up at Travonna Coffee House, The Village Idiot and Hilliard's Sweet Salvage Shoppe. Stop by Short North Tavern to check out her work in July. In the meantime, read about why she loves pop art - and Frankenstein.

What kind of art do you make and why?

I do a lot of different types of art. Over the last few years, I have been very interested in Pop Art and have been creating portraits of famous iconic people. I've also done a few memorial portraits and portraits of family members for clients. I've always been drawn to Pop Art because of its bright colors and ties to popular culture. Growing up in the '80s and '90s really impacted the way that I see the world. Pop Art is also something that everyone can relate to easily without having to dig deep for a meaning. It's an immediate emotional response. It's that response that it brings me closer to the people who buy my art. The human experience is the key for me and why I make art at all.

When do you make art?

I actually spend a lot of time in my home studio making art. I work a full-time job so I usually paint after work. It's a great stress relief for me and a way to release a lot of my nervous energy. I can get bored pretty quickly when I have nothing to do and art is the perfect thing to fill that time.

How often do you make art?

I make art pretty much every day. Whether it's building a support, planning a piece, taking photos or actually putting paint to canvas, I do art daily!

Where do you make art and why?

Since I'm not a full-time artist and making my living that way, I have a studio in my home. My husband has built me two amazing workstations to accommodate whether I am working on the computer or painting on an easel. I love to be able to come home and work; it keeps me close to my family.

What has been inspiring your work lately?

Oddly enough, Frankenstein has been one of my biggest inspirations in my work over the last two years. I've painting blue ones, green ones, pink ones, and ones with Marilyn Monroe. I think that people can relate to Frankenstein in many ways, from the Universal Monster character to the deep symbolism from the story by Mary Shelley. He's become my hallmark!

What advice would you give a new artist that you've found invaluable?

Put yourself out there. Keep trying and keep working on your craft. You don't have to only show your art in an art gallery, there are many other venues available especially when you're starting out. Oh and be professional. Make your wall tags, put your contact info on your art, give the venue selling your art a price list and if you're hanging your own pieces take care of the venues walls like they are your own. You might want to show there in the future.

What do you do while you work?

I like to try to work while watching TV, but I end up only watching TV instead of doing any work. Pandora or Spotify is usually playing on my computer.

Do you ever experience artist's block?

Yeah, sometimes…though mostly I think it's procrastination. I find other things that I would rather do than art, like catch up on my DVR or go outside and enjoy my back yard.

Three artists, living or dead, that you would invite to a dinner party.

Frida Kahlo: Her life and art have always been an interest of mine. Such a sharp mind with so much determination. I'm sure she would be the belle of the ball.

Aminah Robinson: I was able to meet her for a brief minute at the museum during one of her recent openings and wow; that's all I can say. Such presence! You want to cling onto her every word.

And my final one would be Columbus artist, Amy Leibrand. She is absolutely hilarious! She's an amazing artist in her own right and is also becoming a driving force for arts in Columbus, with her curating two shows in the last year.