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Art Makes Columbus: Ty Owen Puts Creativity to Work

Walker Evans Walker Evans Art Makes Columbus: Ty Owen Puts Creativity to Work
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columbus-makes-artArt Makes Columbus. Columbus Makes Art. The Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) is launching a new five-year marketing campaign to highlight the innovation and connectedness in the local arts community. The new program will highlight both individual artists and organizations from a wide variety of visual and performing arts mediums, with a goal of increasing awareness and boosting arts patronage all across Columbus.

This week, Columbus Underground is presenting a series of interviews with local creatives to find out what being an artist means to them, what they face as challenges, and what their hopes for the future are.

Columbus native Ty Owen has been fascinated by sound since a very early age.

“I’ve been playing music since I was a kid, and I still find myself obsessing over a specific two seconds of a song, or tuning in to a way something is mixed,” he says. “I get inspired by the idea of recreating experiences… recycling or recreating or rearranging.”

When Owen graduated from Ohio University with a degree in media arts, he decided to return to Columbus. He made a short list of the places he wanted to work where he felt he could explore his creativity as a multimedia artist.

“COSI was at the top of my list, and six years ago I applied here and tricked them into hiring me,” he laughs. “I’ve been really fortunate to do some interesting things here while they’ve made some big leaps in tech and innovation. Being a video nerd, it’s amazing to have a 60 foot dome and a 70 foot flatscreen to play with.”


As COSI’s Manager of Technology and Innovation Programs, Owen creates interactive experiences that stimulate the mind, create curiosities, and gives audiences young and old an interesting way to engage new ideas. As someone who grew up visiting COSI, he sees his role as coming full circle in providing creative ways to interest the next generation of visitors in the world of arts, science and technology.

“My mom would pull me out of school some times and take me to COSI because she knew I would learn more there than I would sitting in a classroom,” he recalls. “Science is the best way of becoming a well-rounded human being and discovering your place in the world.”

In addition to science, Owen says that creativity is equally important for the human experience.

“People are naturally creative. People who think they aren’t just have had that idea beaten into them, but that’s not true,” he explains. “The way we look at things in the world and solve problems — that’s inherent creativity.”

Owen says that he’s fortunate to be able to use his own creativity and artistic talents to support himself in a full time career in Columbus. But he also admits that other people who work on artistic endeavors as passion projects sometime create the most interesting work.


My favorite local artists and musicians are people who have day jobs, which enables them to create art in their spare time,” he says. “But COSI is an amazing opportunity for me to be creative on a daily basis. I can come up with an idea and try it out. Having time to have experiences and do what you really want to do — that should be your number one thing in life.”

While most Central Ohioans are well aware of what COSI is, Owen says that not everyone knows about the larger breadth of programming that takes place in the building, especially for older audiences. He hopes that it’s something that the new Art Makes Columbus / Columbus Makes Art marketing campaign can draw more attention to.

“I think most people think of COSI only as a children’s museum, but we actually engage people of all ages,” he says. “We have a teen tech studio, digital maker programs, a recording studio, 3d printers, and a staff who can show you how to use this equipment. We host 21+ adults-only nights, maker fare events, and we’re doing some cool night time events with our planetarium too. It’s really a place for everyone.”

Owen says that getting locals to discover new experiences is a challenge that Columbus faces, but it’s not one that can’t be overcome.

“Seven days a week you can go see live music, performances and everything from a CAPA show to watching a band at Ace of Cups,” he says. “I like the phrase ‘Columbus sucks because you suck’ because that means if you can’t find something to do, you need to just stop complaining and make it happen yourself. Get outside your normal three or four spots and experience the city.”

To read more of Ty’s story, CLICK HERE to visit www.columbusmakesart.com.


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